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POTEEN (or potcheen) is a strong drink originally made in rural Ireland from malted barley and potatoes. It is now legally produced and the name protected under EU law, but for centuries was made illegally.

It still is and is known as the hard stuff for a reason: It's strong. I mentioned in a recent light hearted column that UFOs had been seen over Ireland and suggested that if aliens did land there, they would receive a grand welcome, with a drink or three of poteen to cement inter galactic relations.

Old chum Mike Shaw, former editor of the Colne Valley Guardian, told me of his own experience with poteen. He was a frequent visitor to Ireland with his late wife Shirley and, on one occasion, in Killarney, their coach driver diverted from the normal day trip to stop on a mountainside.

A drop of the hard stuff to keep out winter chills "A chap jumped out of the hedge with two or three bottles in his hands," says Mike. "He offered anyone interested a free nip. Before you knew it, everybody on the coach had bought a bottle and he had sold out. The driver warned everyone to hide it when they took it back on the boat to England."

My first encounter with poteen was at a National Union of Journalists conference in Port Rush, Northern Ireland, when a fellow Yorkshireman succumbed to the lure of the stuff carried by the Irish delegation.

He lost 24 hours, and was sure he'd had a great time even though he couldn't remember it. Perhaps it's best saved for alien visitors.

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 26, 2018
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