School: Wilkinstown (roll number 1917)

Location:
Wilkinstown, Co. Meath
Teacher:
Máire Ní Failcheallaigh

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Food in Olden Times

Archival Reference

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0711, Page 067

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In olden times meals were not so varied or dainty as they are now, as people had not as much foreign food at their disposal.
Their chief food consisted of oaten porridge or "stirabout, wheaten, oaten and potato bread and, when they were introduced into the country, potatoes became a very important part of the people's diet. Tea, cocoa or coffee were not even heard of in Ireland in olden times and a lot of milk, both fresh and butter milk, was used. Goats' milk was thought a great deal of.
For meat, bacon has always been popular with the Irish and it is said that there was scarcely a farmhouse in Ireland in which there was not "a pig hanging in the chimney." This phrase was was used because, when the bacon had been salted, the "flitches" were taken and hung from the ceiling by iron crooks over the open fireplace, so that the smoke, going up the chimney also "smoked" the bacon, thus completing the curing.
Dinner very often consisted of bacon and cabbage and potatoes. Poor people, however, could not always afford even this, and had to be content with "praties and salt", with a noggen of butter milk for a drink.

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Language
English