distillation from grain and water. Now, while it is true that the original record is incomplete and indecipherable in places, it has nevertheless been possible to piece together a pretty clear chronological picture of what this ancient distiller was about. His name, roughly translated, was Pah-Dee, and he lived on the southern bank of the river Liffey. It seems to have been very cold while he was alive and he mentions wearing fur garments. There are drawings of large creatures, probably elks and bears. Although he records that other people lived nearby in the region (which would become the city of Dublin), it is apparent that Pah-Dee was a scribe, wise man and inventor rolled into one. I have exercised literary licence in modernising the original text to make it readable:“Resumed heating the murky bubbly mixture of grain and water, and collected a fiery liquid through worm and reed pipe. Tastes bad. Made me dizzy and sick and I had to lie down. Later, chieftain Gurk and his retinue came by. I showed them my two wooden discs joined by a straight branch I made yesterday. Gurk said he could see no use for such a device, so I threw it in the fire.I reheated the first runnings of fire water in the pot and collected through the worm as before. Taste is better, but still not good. Chieftain Gurk, tax collector Froo and others came by and I gave them some. They were not pleased. Froo became threatening but fell asleep before he could kill me. Terrible things today – a large boat arrived and savage red-haired men landed, ravaging and pillaging all morning. Dressed in coloured skirts, they shouted in strange tongues, sounds like ‘och aye the noo’ and ‘haggis, haggis’. I ran into the reeds and hid. They stole all my things – grain and bubbly brown mash and also my second-run fiery spirit. Everything. They found me in the reeds and banged me on the head with a reindeer horn. That is all I remember.Woke with sore head. My hut in a mess, everything gone. At least the strangers have gone in their boat.
They took Gurk’s wives and others with them, and all my pots and pipes and the rest of it. I will have to start all over again.Finished assembling new pot and worm to replace stolen things. Started new batch. Going to run firewater three times through this time.Gurk and Froo and the others very happy with three-times firewater. Lot of singing and dancing, some ravaging. Gurk even took some spirit away with him to share later with his new wives – but he will probably forget about it, he’s that dim. While they were over, I showed them my metal device for cutting up bread into thin slices, but they all said they preferred to eat their bread in a lump, so I threw the device into the river.”It is clear from the above that Pah-Dee’s description of three-run ‘firewater’ is the first record of Irish triple whiskey
distillation – settling the row about who was first to make uisge beatha. The sea raiders may have been from Scotland, but there is no way of telling now. Only the scribblings of a long-dead wise man survive to tell a strange story.