Watergrasshill is a small picturesque community of about 1,000 souls with an old stone church and several pubs. Its Gaelic name (Cnocan na Biolraighe) means little town of the water-crosses
When Laetitia and her group arrived there, a wake was in progress for Kathleen, a woman known for her hospitality, especially to bachelors. She fancied herself a fine cook, and several times each week had one or another bachelor from the town or countryside over for dinner. She had started this in the 1930s, long before the days when one could simply put some prepared food product in the microwave, and when cooking was mostly done by women. In those days, bachelors were generally believed to be congenitally unable to prepare decent food for themselves. Those who could afford it ate in pubs or restaurants, and those who could not had meager fare indeed.
Many of the bachelors were regulars and universally praised the food she prepared. However there was a bit of a discrepancy between the rave reviews her cooking received from her regulars and what the rest of the townsfolk observed. At parish church potluck dinners, she usually contributed soup and soda bread. The soda bread was so hard that some suspected that she had used a recipe for hardtack from the Napoleonic naval wars, and the soup was an unseasoned gruel of mashed root vegetables more fit for livestock than people.
There was occasional gossip about her in the town among groups of grinning men and groups of women with raised eyebrows, but there was a general consensus that her hospitality provided a public service. Laetitia talked to an elderly man who came out of the wake. He had been a frequent dinner guest for many years, and what he whispered became the subject of the day’s limerick.