Four

CONNEMARA

Spicy Chipotle Chorizo Tacos w/Pineapple, Jack Cheese, Lettuce

Connemara, the Internet tells me, is the only Irish whiskey to be “peated” like Scotch. Readers of this blog know I’m all for peat smoke in my drinks, and this one instantly landed on my “favorites of the 69” list. I’ve been a Jameson’s man for many years, mostly because you couldn’t find much else in the Irish whiskey aisle in the liquor store or on the shelf in a bar. During the winter, or at least the cooler months, I like to stop at the Penny and order an Irish and a side of coffee. It’s no use ordering an Irish coffee as they put them in froo froo glasses and serve them with whipped cream, just like every other bar. Not for me.

The Penny is situated square in what you would think of as the center of town, though the town is barely large enough to have a center. There’s one main street with four stoplights, three excellent restaurant bars — including the Penny — a couple of churches and a group of government buildings, many old and some newer; Hillsborough is the county seat for Orange County. Charming is the word most people would probably use to describe the town, though I prefer “historic.”

Parts of my drinking habits have been formed and deepened by my love of history. Some of the reason I like drinking scotch is that it has a deep smoky past. I like things that are old. I have written many novels set in the past, and I love reading and researching history.

I live in a very old house, which suits my love of history. Although the origins of the house are a bit misty, it was probably built in an early form around 1842. Rooms of the house were added over the intervening years. When I am settled in my overstuffed armchair in front of a gas fire surrounded by the craftsmanship of men who lived more than a hundred and fifty years ago, drinking an 18-year-old, Speyside whiskey, I feel connected to the past, my surroundings, to history, to life and the lives of men and women long dead.

I’m new to the south, but it is undeniable that one feels closer to the past here than in other places I have visited and lived, historically and spiritually. And in my house, everywhere I look I am reminded of this. The other day I noticed that the hardware on all the doors is from a number of different styles, from “japanned” copper doorplates to pressed bronze strikeplates and locks. I believe it would be possible to date various additions to the core of the house from these clues alone. Every room in the house has a lock on it, interior and exterior. The keys, most of them the type we think of skeleton keys, are long lost. One has to wonder why there are locks on all the interior doors, even the closets. What were they trying to keep out? Or keep in? This is just one of the many small mysteries that surround me when I’m at home.

There is a larger mystery that concerns the origins of the house. Let’s take a sip of Connemara and I’ll tell you about it.

9 thoughts on “Four

  1. Really enjoy your Penny visits. Looking forward to going with you one day. The food sounds interesting as well. Glad I know you as well as I do and gives me more insight in your writings. Glad you both decided to relocate to Hillsborough. It was the best choice for you. We so enjoyed our visit to “your little town”. B

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  2. I’m with you re Irish whiskeys: When I lived in Ireland, I never found an Irish whiskey I liked as much as scotch, and for the reason you mention: Lack of smokiness. But then I never tried Connemara, more’s the pity.
    You and I are also on the same page re houses and history, too. I think by the time a structure gets some years on it, it embodies as many—or more—narratives as the people who inhabit(ed) it.
    Thanks for the “69drinks” blog, Allen. I’m enjoying it very much.

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  3. You better watch it Allen, your burgh is going to have droves of folk moving in from everywhere if you keep writing about it, and dang it, I am envious. 🙂
    I spent the first 18 years of my life trying to leave small towns, now I must have spent decades hoping to get back to a small town.

    Looks like some other folks were pondering the lock question on 19th century homes. Take a peek..

    https://little-details.livejournal.com/2774793.html

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    1. It’s a great small town. There are many good places all around this area. Interesting about the locks. The locksmith was here today working on my front door and I asked him the same question and he said it was probably because of slavery and the owners wanting to keep them out.

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