There is a famous dialogue in Irish by the poet Raftery between himself and Whiskey, and it may have been known to Patrick Brady, "The Bunnoe Poet" who wrote this ballad. In each case, as might be expected,the drink wins. Poteen is illicit whiskey (Notes by DMacD)One night as I slumbered in Cavan's strong jail
Where I was confined then in prison,
My crime it was such that they would take no bail,
Thank God it was not for High Treason!
One hundred pound fine they imposed upon me
From such depredation I own I was free,
From robbery, villainy and larceny,
'Twas all for the selling of Poteen.
I heard something speak at the end of my cell,
Saying surely I see poet Brady?
I saw him before and I know him quite well
A man that is certainly ready
At composing a verse as occasion my call
But now he's a prisoner in Cavan's strong wall,
I'll wager my life its for no crime at all,
But all for the selling of poteen."
I lifted my head from my cold bed of straw
The moment I heard of the poet,
Saying, "What gracious neighbor is pinned by the law?
Tell me now, I am anxious to know it."
'Twas in your own house in the town of Cootehill
Where I got admittance at your own free will
Each morning at daybreak your glass I would fill,
My name and my title is Poteen."
"If you be the villain that has sent me here
The curse of my children light on you.
Your name brings destruction and trouble and fear
For the rest of my life I will shun you,
You banished me far from my children and wife
You followed me here now to aim at my life
And so in defiance of your malice and strife
Forever I'll swear against poteen."
"You poor silly poet you seem in a rage,
You know that a glass in the morning
Is quaffed by the learned, the wise and the brave
Just as the daylight is dawning,
But their licensed liquor is poison you know
It burns out the entrance through which it does go,
But our healing balsam has never done so,
The health of old Erin is Poteen."
"Your boasting of Poteen - destruction you mean!
Just think of the fine you just brought on us!
The army was sent for our goods to distrain
Our comfort and heat taken from us,
Our cattle were auctioned in the public street
Which leaves us to go without brogues to our feet
And twice as much more I could throw in your teeth,
So quiet now your boasting of poteen."
"Indeed old acquaintance, you're certainly right
They would surely do all in their power
They begrudge us to have one sweet moment's delight
Or in leisure to pass a half hour;
But I vow and declare let them do what they will
If ever you live to go back to Cootehill
Yourself and your Kitty will have a full gill
And a shake of the hand over Poteen."