Peader Ó Flaithbertaigh was renowned throughout Ireland for his poitín. People came from far and wide to sample a drop of his prestigious brew. His was the finest Uisce Beatha. The King of the Faeries had decreed it so, and it was said that he had once bested Fionn Mac Cumhaill in a game of Fidchell.
Peader’s magical brew jokingly referred to his poitín as ‘Writers Tears’.
The secret recipe had been handed down from father to son for twelve generations, and Peader wasn’t going to be the one to let the secret recipe of the Ó Flaithbertaighs fall into the greedy hands of another distiller.
Peader kept his whiskey still hidden away in a cave, high up in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. He would climb the mountain in the dead of night to avoid prying eyes. Once he was sure that the coast was clear, he would slip through the narrow opening that led into his secret hideaway, and disappear from sight.
On more than one occasion he had been followed by cunning unscrupulous men, but he had vanished so quickly and quietly that they swore he had been whisked away by the faerie folk. Search though they might, they could not find the cleverly hidden entrance to his lair.
Deep within the warren of caves, Peader would light a small peat fire over his copper still and wait patiently for his magic to work.
Often, he would fall asleep, safe in the knowledge that the peat smoke would seep out through the many cracks in the rock and dissipate harmlessly, without detection.
Only one other person knew of the location of his still, and that was his close friend and confident, the Leprechaun King: Oisín MacCreight.
Oisín arrived a few hours later, for it was the night of the full moon and time to brew another batch of poitín. Oisín had the soft feet of his race, but Peader still heard him coming and was awake by the time the leprechaun appeared.
“Ah, MacCreight, a chara! You’re just in time. What have you brought me this time?”
Oisín licked his lips in anticipation. One of the joys of helping Peader with his magical potion was the quality assurance. Each batch had to be vigorously tested before it was released for public consumption, and who better to test it than the king of the leprechauns. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.
“I think you’ll be happy with my contribution this time, Peader. My lads have worked tirelessly over the last moon to capture only the best ingredients for you.”
Rummaging around in his small sack, Oisín produced a number of small vials. “Firstly, I have some of the finest melancholy from Patrick Kavanagh himself. I gather he’s working on a new poem at the moment and it’s not going well. These tears were collected while he slept.”
Peader examined the first vial, which was half full of clear liquid. “Excellent, Oisín! Kavanagh has always produced a fine delicate flavour. What else have you got?”
Oisín smiled. “I have three vials of the best from Behan! The poor devil is tormented at the moment. He hasn’t written a single word in weeks, and drowns his sorrows in the cursed porter. One of my lads collected these from him while he was sleeping it off on a park bench in Stephens Green.”
“Ach, the poor crater! He truly is the last of the great bards. Still, his loss will be our gain. He will give body to this brew.”
“Finally, I have something special for you; a rare potion of despondency from one of Ireland’s finest writers,” declared Oisín, showing his final vial.
“Who is it from, a chara?” asked Peader, feeling a tingle of excitement.
“I captured this sample myself,” boasted Oisín, “While he was writing a new piece he is working on. He didn’t even know I was there, so lost was he in his woes.”
“Tell me more,” coaxed Peader.
“These sacred waterworks are from none other than W. B Yeats himself! He was working on something about a shepherd at the time. I didn’t hang around to hear the completed poem, but it was clearly a mighty powerful piece of prose. I do hope he finishes it.”
Peader smiled. “I think we have enough magic here for something really special; something my father, may he rest in peace, would have been proud off. This might even compare to the batch he brewed while Oscar Wilde was rotting away in that cursed English gaol. By God, let’s get started!”
Eagerly, they set to work.