Between 1920 and 1933 alcohol was banned in the U.S.A. Almost immediately the sale of illegal alcohol – bootlegging – soared and the ban became increasingly ineffectual. While the likes of Al Capone made a fortune bootlegging, ordinary folks, including one Irish nun also turned their hand to it.


In 1926 my grandaunt, Sister Genevieve Dwyer a nun in South Dakota returned to the USA after a visit to Ireland. In Chicago she wrote back to my grandparents to inform them that a mysterious cargo had been delivered. As she passed through US customs she went on to say

           “I met the brothers. I put the xxx inside my bosom, it must have been boiling point when I took it out, we laughed more over that.”

IMG_3278Given this was right in the middle of prohibition, its hard to see what else she could be referring to other than booze.

For over 40 year Genevieve Dwyer wrote letters to my grandparents about her life as an emigrant in early 20th century America. These featured her longing for home, World War II and her battles with depression. You can hear her stories in my latest podcast ‘Letters from Dakota’.

Letters from Dakota.

I am currently planning a major series on the Great Famine for 2017. To make this series I am asking listener like you to support my work by becoming patrons. When you become a patron (for as little as  $1 per month) you will get lots of bonus content. Find out more in this video