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By Caoimhín Mires

In another exclusive, The Drone News can report on a disturbing new drugs craze that is sweeping Ireland’s traditional music community: Turf smoking.

Reports of the mysterious drug with the street name ‘turf’ began to circulate last year after the All-Ireland Fleadh and hospital admissions arising from the misuse of the heady, herb-based substance have been on the increase ever since.

One fleadh-goer explained to a Drone correspondent how turf affected him. Pat Mulduff, who is described by Garda sources as “an habitual guitar abuser”, tried smoking the drug after being offered a turf reefer (know as a ‘hopper’) on a side street during the Cavan county fleadh.

“Well, I took a toke of the hopper, you know, and I felt me head liftin’. T’was grand. But then I took another few pulls of it and I started to feel pure quare. I started talking strange like, telling jokes that weren’t funny and all and everything started to look funny too. People must have thought I was cracked, but sure I didn’t give a shite, I was comin’ up on turf and gettin’ the head rushes.

The tunes in the session I went to after sounded awful different. Scary like. I couldn’t think of a single chord that I might play with them, and usually I can think of two or three, but it didn’t stop my lashin’ it out. Next thing I know I’m waking up in a stolen Fiat Punto outside a Centra in Mulligar with a bag of Tayto burst all over me and me havin’ pished meself!”

CCÉ narcotics expert Thomás MacQuinas said that the organisation is monitoring the turf epidemic, “it goes without saying that we do not condone the ingestion of any dangerous substances at CCÉ events. Fleadhs are intended to be safe, enjoyable occasions where people can go to play music and peacefully smoke and drink all day and all night, and possibly enjoy a nice reheated burger from a quality street vendor.

Turf is a dangerous drug; it makes people incoherent, uncoordinated and sexually aggressive. For this reason a turf user is very difficult to detect among traditional musicians, particularly string accompanists. The message from CCÉ is quite clear however: Don’t do turf! ”

Sadie O’Jammin, the landlady of ‘Turfy Mulligan’s’, a popular traditional music venue in the Co Cavan village, said that turf is readily available in most rural areas, “aye, sure you can pick it up anywhere for next to nothin’. The reason they’re all at it now is because we had the good few weeks early on in the summer. That means the turf burns faster, and sure it puts the young ones off their heads when they can smoke it quick like that. I might start growing a bit of it meself, cos the price of drink and the end of the drink driving down here is scandalous. Sure how can I compete with people staying home to smoke turf of an evening?”

The Drone News will be sure to report further on this worrying issue as it unfolds.


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