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Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1997-12 > 0883448589

From: John Giacoletti <>
Subject: RE: Charley Read 's PA Whisky
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 1997 21:23:09 -0500


Thanks for the reply. I had no idea moonshining was as widespread as you
indicate. Guess I've been sheltered from one of life's pleasures, but it
just has never been a "thing" with me.

Linda Merle wrote in a recent on- line post that culture was learned. Wow,
what an opening. I'm reading Jonathan Bardon, A HISTORY OF ULSTER, one of
the standard references on Ulster.

"Nearly all the barley in the north-west was grown for making whiskey and
by the 1780's there were no fewer than forty legal distillers in Co.
Londonderry, with Coleraine second only to Dublin in importance."

Later in the same paragraph ..."the making of illegal poteen flourished in
the north-west, particularly on the Inishowen penisula and at Magilligan,
where stills could be hidden behind the dunes ... The Ordnance Survey of
1835 reckoned that thirty years earlier there were no fewer than four
hundred illicit stills operating in Magilligan alone, and in 1791 a
correspondent of the Londonderry Journal wrote that no legal distilleries
had survived in the area 'and yet whiskey is as plenty and pernicious as

Finally, " it was stated in 1808 that 'Loch Foyle was generally covered
with boats, transporting illicit spirits from Inishowen to the County of
Londonderry, from whence their cargoes were smuggled over a great part of

The culture seems to be that laws are fine if they don't conflict with
one's self-interest! Charley Read probably did have an ulterior motive in
seeking election as sheriff. Most of what I typed was direct quotes from
the county history, so his activities were probably not illegal. I believe
it was 1839 that the upper part of Armstrong west of the Allegheny was made
into Clarion County. The quoted article was clear in its references that
his activities were at that time restricted to agriculture. Even I have to
smirk at that.

Thanks again. And a good new year's to you.

John Giacoletti

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