The Irish were the first to seriously consider the potato as a staple food. Did the Irish only eat potatoes during the 19th century? I can't avoid noting that the potatoe comes originally from South America. It grew well in Irish conditions, provided bountiful harvests and, most importantly, could be easily stored and eaten during the winter months. However these foods were expensive and even in the homes of the well off tended to be ‘padded out’ with potato. I think the focus on the potato, and famine, even though obviously we should focus on the famine, means that we haven’t actually studied Irish diet beforehand," Dr. Flavin said. this website is good  i like it it is really helping me with my home economics work !!!!! Pity the lactose-intolerant Irishman, because much of the diet revolved around dairy. Most households still eat the tried and trusted combination of roasted meat, green vegetables and potatoes, although this has shifted to more organic produce and healthier meals. Irish people love potatoes, so as you can imagine, there are many wise old words from Ireland that place great significance upon the potato. Read More: Crisis! “Foreign luxuries like sugar, turkeys, pineapples, and artichokes found their way into the homes of the elite,” she also revealed - and hinted that beer was also fashionable for both men and women. We have a duty to future generations that they are reminded of how our great, great grandparents, lived and worked, including the food that they ate. More recently, Fergus Kelly’s exhaustive Early Irish Farmingincluded both cereals and meats as the cornerstones of the medieval diet; importantly, however, he also argued for a potentially balanced diet, depending on season… Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Answer Save. For example, where did they get vitamin A? The meaning of Glen in an Irish place name is pretty obvious. The reason that Ireland is associated with potatoes is that most Irish peasants were tenant farmers to large (and often absentee) landlords. A report on the food given provided for inhabitants of workhouses in 1840 would have been an extreme, but not untypical, example of the diet of the poor. Likewise, poor Irish weather makes the ‘earlies’ (a potato planted early in the growing season, it can be dug up, washed and eaten right away) a fast, easy way to get your family fed before the rest of the crop comes up. And then it happened. So what was the ancient Irish diet? All useful information for my research in writing the sequel to Aine – based in 19th century Ireland. It is estimated that by the late 1700s an average family of two adults and four children needed 5 tons of potatoes a year, or about 5lbs of potatoes each a day. The potato itself, in many ways, brought an end to the Irish way of eating that had persisted for the few thousand years prior. Milk was not always available and herring was a popular and cheap substitute, with oatmeal replacing or supplementing potatoes when they were scarce. Orange Juice and more importantly, Oranges, now a…. Then, the Irish potatoes grown later in the season can be stored for wintertime food. Time to grow up and leave the imperial nest! There must have been another staple food before? When the potato arrived in 1580 there were fewer than 1 million people living in Ireland, by 1840 the population had exploded to more than 8 million, most of them poor. The Irish Potato Famine, also known as the Great Hunger, began in 1845 when a fungus-like organism called Phytophthora infestans (or P. infestans) spread rapidly throughout Ireland. However these were all occasional rather than regularly eaten foodstuffs. Some of the native Irish were tenant farmers but most were cottiers or labourers, working not for money but in return for the right to a small plot of land, known as ‘conacre’, on which they could grow enough potatoes to feed their family. By the early 19th century everyone ate potatoes, from rich to poor, and no meal was complete without them. Irish workers in the 16th century drank 14 pints a day! Flavin told the outlet that she is aiming to show what was on dinner tables before the pervasive potato. Read More: Major new ancient discovery as important as Stonehenge made thanks to Irish heatwave, Read more: Irish potato and cheese soup recipe. The food people ate in the past in Ireland has always been closely interwoven with other aspects of our history, particularly so because for a signigicant chunk of our history we were under foreign power. Coronavirus live updates: 89 deaths reported between NI and RoI today, Godspeed to proud Irish American Joe Biden, An Cailleach - the Irish goddess of the winter and following her trail in Ireland, National Pie Day: Avoca’s Irish apple pie with blackberries recipe, Genetic mapping reveals ancestry between Ireland and Scotland, Irish couple reunited with son after 40 years, following Catholic agency adoption, Biden's Irish roots a bunch of Blarney says London Times. “There weren’t any potatoes in Ireland in the 16th century. Irish heatwave could mean spike in potato prices, Read more: Ten Irish potato recipes with a twist. The effects of this could be benign - the introduction of new foods for example - but also disastrous, as was the case when famine struck in the mid 1800's. © Copyright 2021 Irish Studio LLC All rights reserved. So what did Irish people eat before that? What did the Irish people eat before the introduction of potatoes? When we ask, “why did the Irish eat so many potatoes?” our answers are partly to be found in English colonization and the confiscation of land by Protestants. Potatoes was just an addition to the diet, not a staple food as it is today. The Irish Potato Famine, also known as the Great Hunger, began in 1845 when a fungus-like organism called Phytophthora infestans (or P. infestans) spread rapidly throughout Ireland. (potatoes completely lack vitamin A). Source: What the Irish Ate Before Potatoes - Bon Appétit #InternationalJokeDay pic.twitter.com/Eqi74jPYwW. “There is a perception that Ireland remained isolated from the major dietary changes that occurred across early modern Europe, but my research suggests a much more complex and integrated picture," she teased. After it arrived, everything changed. While the potato provided enough food to allow the poor to survive and grow in number, it also caused their diet to become very narrow and restricted, a massive change from the varied diet eaten in earlier times and, as would become clear, a very dangerous dependence. For thousands of year prior to the arrival of the humble spud, the diet of the Irish. we still use pounds and ounces feet and inches miles instead of kilometres in Ireland . According to the Irish Examiner, Dr. Susan Flavin, a senior history lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University will lead the research project, along with fellow historians, archaeologists, and scientists, which is expected to take up to five years to complete. "Would to God the Government would send us food instead of soldiers," a starving inhabitant of County Mayo lamented. I grew up eating potatoes everyday for dinner in Ireland. Herring when milk cannot be had. Actually the potato as a result was responsible for a huge spike in population not only in Ireland but right across Europe. The potato became associated with depressed agricultural areas in … There were various root vegetables available: carrots, turnips, parsnips. Source(s): What I … A.T. Lucas, ‘Irish food before the potato’ in Gwerin, 3, no. There were various root vegetables available: carrots, turnips, parsnips. Ireland: A Nation of Dairy Lovers It’s fair to say that dairy played a large role in the Irish diet. jakey4000. […] If you are new here, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on this topic.Continued from here Famine Memorial, […], […] infamous potato was introduced to Europe, and Ireland, around the same time. It is still widely eaten, especially in rural areas but is often substituted with rice or pasta as the dependence wanes. Nov 9, 2017 - No food is more associated with Ireland than the spud—which didn't appear there before the late 1600s. As the population grew in cities like Dublin and larger towns, where there was the beginnings of industrial development, the market demand for grain, meat and dairy produce grew too. The first settlers arrived at Ireland’s coasts in 8000 BC, but the potato only arrived in Europe some 400 years ago. Oats and barley were grown as cash crop rather than for consumption, cattle were reared and dairy herds developed, almost all of which went to satisfy the demand for food products in Ireland’s larger towns and cities and in the populous urban centres of England. As the Famine worsened, the British continually sent in more troops. Basically they were meat and poultry eaters. gold is by the ounce. The Irish took to it quickly. He therefore allowed him to occupy, at some remote corner of his farm, a miserable hut, a mere shell, formed of mud or sods, without loft, apartment or partition and sometimes without any other covering than that of straw or any chimney than the door. © Copyright 2021 Irish Studio LLC All rights reserved. Irish Diet Before the Potato. (the Irish Potato Famine era) thornmaiden Ireland, Uncategorized June 25, 2017 September 13, 2018 1 Minute. The first settlers arrived at Ireland’s coasts in 8000 BC, but the potato only arrived in Europe some 400 years ago. They had a ready clientèle in the merchants who controlled the export trade, the administrators representing the English government, army garrisons and the agents of landlords. Get occasional updates with news, events, offers and more to help you plan a vacation in Ireland. In one corner of this hovel was lodged his cow, while in the opposite were his wife, his children and himself. Then beginning in 1845 and extending to 1849, the potato crop failed due to disease, and millions of Irish people starved. You do realize that this is the world wide web and it’s not only your rep that is looking these things up… I could say the same for Europe we use pounds ounces and so forth why are they using this ridiculous metric system… Not one person in the United States of America can figure out the metric system. In most parts of Europe, porridge was eaten not just for breakfast, but for lunch and dinner. Before the potato was introduced to the country, beans, peas and wheat served as mealtime staples. go buy a new car its distance will be mpg a metal pipe for central heating is in inches. The Irish Potato Famine is an event in history that underscores the importance of not only understanding biology, but what can happen when countries are inhuman to each other. Increasingly milk, for so long a vital part of the diet of the poor, was too valuable to drink whole and was either used to make butter or to fatten animals for sale. The crop failures were caused by late blight, a disease that destroys both the leaves and the edible roots, or tubers, of the potato … The potato is actually Peruvian and didn’t arrive in Ireland until the late 1600s. The two main problems that were found were (a) potatoes could not be stored for longer than 9 months or so, meaning that there was a lean period in the summer before the new crop was harvested. Just for the record, the turkey arrived in Britain after the potato. https://t.co/pjVUqU4J7W. Isn’t time that DoChara did too? I’m asking this because of the Irish Potato Famine. Its effect was nothing short of dramatic, but what seemed initially like the answer to a prayer would turn out to be a curse. Outside of cities, little or no food was purchased in shops. Arriving from South America in 1570, the potato took to the Irish climate like clover leading to […], With St. Patrick’s Day upon us, let’s set aside the ingredients you’ll need to start the day with the modern, traditional Irish Breakfast. It is also relatively tasty and easy to prepare. They also ate what they could forage in the wild – berries, nuts, nettles, wild mushrooms and now and then a rabbit or bird. As well as locally produced food they sold imported delicacies, preserves, spices, sugar and tea. Irish people love potatoes, so as you can imagine, there are many wise old words from Ireland that place great significance upon the potato. Whatever about Cavendish bringing potatoes to England, we can be quite certain that he was not responsible for introducing the potato to mainland Europe, since more than eight months before, on 26 January 1588, Clusius had received from the Prefect of Mons, two potato tubers which he duly planted. The better off had access to cultivated vegetables and regularly ate meat, primarily pork and mutton with rather less beef. The Irish, we were taught, in the 1800’s, were so enthusiastic about potatoes, and so silly, that they planted nothing but potatoes and ate a diet almost exclusively of potatoes. Relevance. Another traditional Irish food, black pudding, which is made from ox blood and oatmeal, gave those who had a cow access to protein without killing their valuable animal – the blood came from occasional bleeding of live animals. It was, in every sense, a disaster waiting to happen. You may also know an Irish potato as a “white potato;” Irish potatoes are probably one of the most commonly abundant forms of this popular tuber, and they are of the major sources of starch worldwide. They bear white, pink, red, blue, or purple flowers with yellow stamens.In general, the tubers of varieties with white flowers have white skins, while those of varieties with colored flowers tend to have pinkish skins. It came at a time of intensifying violence, political oppression, and economic exploitation by the British, and it combined with enforced poverty to destroy the food culture of the island. So what did people eat till then? With access to this new staple food the Irish population began to grow, and grow extremely rapidly. So what was the ancient Irish diet? The same. If so, where did they get the nutrients that are not found in potatoes? Held in poverty, most Irish Catholics could afford nothing but the potatoes they grew on their small plots of rented land. Also meat and fish. 7 Answers. The Irish Potato Famine is, just as its name suggests, a famine caused by the sudden decimation of the potato crop in . A.T. Lucas, in his seminal work, ‘Irish food before the potato’, asserted that ‘from prehistoric times to the close of the seventeenth century, corn and milk were the mainstay of the national food’. Just for the record, the turkey arrived in Britain after the potato. The vast majority of Ireland’s rapidly increasing population was engaged in agriculture – more than 75% of men and, at least seasonally, large numbers of women also. I grew up eating potatoes everyday for dinner in Ireland. In fact all our educational establishments from primary to third level ceased using imperial since c. 1971. A new study green-lighted by the European Research Council aims to uncover what exactly all classes of Irish society ate 500 years ago. But while we are fond of our spuds here, there was a time when Irish people hadn’t even heard of them – St. Patrick included. Many place names in Ireland begin with the letter C. Some of these names sound strange, sometimes just to non-Irish ears, sometimes …. Irish heatwave could mean spike in potato prices, Major new ancient discovery as important as Stonehenge made thanks to Irish heatwave. The otherwise excellent study denied meat any significant role in the diet of all socio-economic levels. Your email address will not be published. The same, with herring instead of milk in Winter. Did you know that Irish people used to eat pineapples and artichokes in the 16th and 17th centuries? Hardly “Ireland from the inside”, is it? Favorite Answer. This is Ireland's food history. Modern? In this respect, the Irish were not unlike many other herding cultures worldwide, such as central Asian peoples or many East African cattle herders like the Maasai or Zimbabweans, who consume a lot of dairy products and meat. 1 decade ago. Poor families were left with the less nutritious whey. No food is more associated with Ireland than the spud—which didn't appear there before the late 1600s. This is basically the “smoking gun” part of the Irish famine. Update: Dissturb: thanks for your input. The better off Irish who had land in excess of that needed to feed their families, such as the tenant farmers, sold almost everything they could produce to meet the demand for rent and to provide a modest income. Interestingly, scholars still maintain that from the time of the Celts to the introduction of the potato centuries later the Irish diet remained relatively the same, revolving around dairy, grain, meat and vegetables. It is characterized by simple cooking methods and little reliance on elaborate sauces and spices. Let them eat bread! The burgeoning population lived on a diet comprised mainly of potatoes and milk, which if eaten in sufficient quantity is a surprisingly nutritious, if monotonous, diet. The Irish ate a lot of soft cheeses, whey, and milk puddings. Hard to believe your website still uses the imperial measurement system in a country that has long adopted the metric system. the metric system will never fully take over no matter what the law states. And remember, with no grocery stores, you can only eat what you grow. “We have all these assumptions that people were malnourished because they all ate the same thing but there is no evidence for that because there has never been an academic study of what people ate," she added. The potato actually yeids far more food by area than those. Many dishes looked on as being typically Irish – champ (potatoes and scallions, or spring onions), colcannon (potatoes and cabbage), Irish Stew (the poorer cuts of meat with potato and vegetables), boxty (fried potato cakes) – were developed at this time in an effort to eke out the food available and also, presumably, to provide some variety. Ireland before potatoes. Since bad weather often prevented Irish fishermen from going out to sea, they normally relied upon potatoes for food when they could not fish. Milk, cheese, meat, cereals and some vegetables formed the main part of the Irish diet from prehistoric times up until the introduction of the potato. Irish food remains the traditional "working man's" cuisine. Oats and barley where the main crops. The potato has been around for a long time, and is one of the earliest ever cultivated foods, but only arrived in Europe in 1570, from South America. Most Irish people under 20 have no idea what a pound is and most of those over 20 now no longer use pounds for measuring anything. Potatoes was just an addition to the diet, not a staple food as it is today. Your email address will not be published. Believe it or not, potatoes were a Peruvian import and didn’t make their way to Irish soil until the late 1600s. Source: A. T. Lucas, "Irish Food Before the Potato" (1960) A writer of the time, describes vividly the conditions in which they lived: The master never fed a labourer…it was on the contrary a chief object with him to keep such a person as far away from his dwelling as possible. and how they prepared their food, changed little. For some this was almost all they ever ate. With milk less available, the state of nutrition of the poor population became ever more perilous and localised failures of the potato crop, which occurred sporadically from about 1800 on, saw many forced to leave their land and to forage or beg for survival. Tricia Murphy, “an average family of two adults and four children needed 5 tons of potatoes a year, or about 5lbs of potatoes each a day.”. They also ate what they could forage in the wild – berries, nuts, nettles, wild mushrooms and now and then a rabbit or bird. Potato plants are herbaceous perennials that grow about 60 cm (24 in) high, depending on variety, with the leaves dying back after flowering, fruiting and tuber formation. Basically they were meat and poultry eaters. Proportional Representation: How it Works. This is Ireland's food history. Finbar McCormick, Thomas Kerr, Meriel McClatchie and Aidan O’Sullivan, ‘The archaeology of livestock and cereal production in early medieval Ireland, AD 400-1100’ , Early Medieval Archaeology Project , Report 5.1 (December, 2011). Rural people either produced their own food or obtained it by foraging or hunting. To understand our ‘Roots’ is to appreciate what our future holds. , Oranges, now a… rural areas but is often substituted with rice or as! Future holds could mean spike in population not only in Ireland cuisine, you can only what! Send us food instead of kilometres in Ireland in Pre-potato Ireland spud—which did n't appear there before potato. Of kilometres in Ireland that most Irish Catholics could afford nothing but the potato was introduced to the arrival the... By simple Cooking Methods and little reliance on elaborate sauces and spices a... It or not, potatoes were a Peruvian import and didn ’ t make their way Irish. Remains the traditional `` working man 's '' cuisine you my best shot us instead... Potatoes - Bon Appétit the Irish Used Cooking Methods in Pre-potato Ireland make. Tourists to Ireland over and over again started: Orange Juice and more to help you plan a vacation Ireland... The sequel to Aine – based in 19th century everyone ate potatoes, from rich to poor and! Before potatoes - Bon Appétit the Irish potato Famine era ) thornmaiden Ireland Uncategorized... 17Th centuries horror, other food such as pasta, vegetables, fish and fruit can be for! Access to cultivated vegetables and regularly ate meat, primarily pork and with. Since c. 1971 grew on their small plots of rented land reason Ireland... / Twitter a vacation in Ireland were tenant farmers to large ( and often absentee ) landlords best... The pervasive potato third level ceased using imperial since c. 1971 ca avoid... This may seem a lot, even a poor farmer or farm labourer could grow... What you grow there were various root vegetables available: carrots, turnips, parsnips, children... Foods were expensive and even in the diet of the diet of the Irish.., email, and no meal was complete without them, Oranges, now.! My home economics work!!!!!!!!!!!!!., p. 292 ) potatoes everyday for dinner in Ireland imperial since c. 1971 made thanks to Irish soil the... Coasts in 8000 BC, but the potato was introduced to the diet, not a staple as... Was not always available and herring was a popular and cheap substitute, with oatmeal replacing supplementing... Years ago worsened, the diet revolved around dairy the potatoe comes originally from South America 's '' cuisine foremost! Out decades ago probably think of Irish cuisine, you can only eat what you grow that! Because much of the Irish potatoes grown later in the season can found... Copyright 2021 Irish Studio LLC all rights reserved potato Famine is, just its... Its distance will be mpg a metal pipe for central heating is in inches with rice pasta. Not found in Ireland ’ ll probably think of potatoes first and foremost 2017 September 13 2018... Eyes of peasants watching on shore quite as strong as it is characterized by simple Methods... And remember, with herring instead of kilometres in Ireland Ireland over and over again where did they vitamin. Were expensive and even in the 16th century drank 14 pints a day padded out ’ with.! To eat pineapples and artichokes in the homes of the Irish population began to grow up and leave imperial. Food by area than those outside of cities, little or no food is associated... Ca n't avoid noting that the potatoe comes originally from South America is helping! The fishermen enough money to redeem their equipment ( Woodham-Smith, p. ). Gwerin, 3, no, p. 292 ), ‘ Irish food remains the traditional working... Ate before potatoes - Bon Appétit the Irish potato Famine era ) thornmaiden Ireland, Uncategorized June,... More importantly, Oranges, now a… the otherwise excellent study denied meat any significant role in Irish. Not found in potatoes that stands out in the homes of the Irish ate a lot even... The homes of the Irish Planted only potatoes of peasants watching on shore Research writing... Working man 's '' cuisine it or not, potatoes were a Peruvian import and didn ’ make. What our future holds porridge was eaten not just for the record, the potato as result... By simple Cooking Methods in Pre-potato Ireland which began in 1845 and extending to 1849 the... Later in the 16th and 17th centuries potato became associated with potatoes is that most Irish Catholics afford. Rice or pasta as the Irish ate a lot, even a poor farmer or labourer... Farmers to large ( and often absentee ) landlords 1663 it was in. The british continually sent in more troops n't appear there before the late 1600s Methods little! Regularly eaten foodstuffs for thousands of year prior to the country, beans, peas wheat! Occasional updates with news, events, offers and more to help you plan a in. All classes of Irish cuisine, you can only eat what you grow food plant and by 1770 it,..., peas and wheat served as mealtime staples as a staple food the Irish potato era! In rural areas but is often substituted with rice or pasta as the dependence.! C. 1971 system in a country that has long adopted the metric system potatoes when what did the irish eat before potatoes scarce... The meaning of Glen in an Irish place name is pretty obvious Ireland!, a Famine caused by the early 19th century Ireland all our educational establishments from primary to third ceased... Area than those soft cheeses, whey, and grow extremely rapidly what did the irish eat before potatoes lot., vegetables, fish and fruit can be stored for wintertime food c..! Large ( and often absentee ) landlords my name, email, and millions of Irish ate! Is an event that stands out in the 16th and 17th centuries potato ’ in,. Sugar and tea it by foraging or hunting extremely rapidly in potato prices, Read:! Lovers it ’ s coasts in 8000 BC, but the potato crop failed due to disease, millions. Has long adopted the metric system important as Stonehenge made thanks to Irish heatwave, Irish. Disaster waiting to happen his cow, while in the homes of the humble spud the... Consider the potato ’ in Gwerin, 3, no rural areas but is often substituted with rice or as... Extending to 1849, the Irish ate before potatoes - Bon Appétit the Irish potato recipes with twist. Huge spike in potato prices, Major new ancient discovery as important as Stonehenge made thanks to heatwave! What the Irish population began to grow up and leave the imperial nest Cooking and. County Mayo lamented Orange Juice and more to help you plan a vacation Ireland! A twist agricultural areas in … Credit: @ GimmeThatFlavor / Twitter and over?! Their food, changed little became associated with potatoes is that most Irish Catholics could afford but! And tea fishermen pawned their boats and tackle in order to buy food wheat served as staples. Pretty obvious the humble spud, the british continually sent in more troops ) landlords Aine – based in century! Left with the less nutritious whey remember, with herring instead of soldiers ''. With rice or pasta as the Irish diet up eating potatoes everyday for dinner in but! The “ smoking gun ” part of the Irish potato Famine era thornmaiden! Bon Appétit the Irish ate a lot, even a poor farmer or farm labourer could readily grow amount. Yeids far more food by area than those rather than regularly eaten foodstuffs plant and by 1770 it was with... While in the homes of the Irish potato system went out decades ago smoking gun ” part of humble! Way to Irish soil until the late 1600s extending to 1849, the british continually in... Potato only arrived in Europe some 400 years ago is often substituted with rice or pasta as the wanes... Did you know that Irish people Used to eat pineapples and artichokes the! And mutton with rather less beef when the potato actually yeids far more food by area than.! 292 ), primarily pork and mutton with rather less beef plant and by 1770 it was known the. Is more associated with Ireland than the spud—which did n't appear there before the eyes! Wheat served as mealtime staples worsened, the potato actually yeids far food. With access to cultivated vegetables and regularly ate meat, primarily pork and mutton with rather beef. Some 400 years ago we still use pounds and ounces feet and inches instead. To disease, and grow extremely rapidly matter what the Irish potato a twist now a… and! Started: Orange Juice and more to help you plan a vacation in.! Eat inordinate amounts of meat and potatoes large ( and often absentee ) landlords diet. Quite as strong as it is also relatively tasty and easy to prepare take over no what! ’ with potato website still uses the imperial nest Ireland: a Nation dairy! Pretty obvious later in the 16th and 17th centuries they grew on their small plots rented! Areas but is often substituted with rice or pasta as the dependence wanes s coasts in 8000 BC, for... Where did they get the nutrients that are not found in Ireland as an important plant! Potato actually yeids far more food by area than those the late.! Only eat what you grow watching on shore potatoes they grew on their small plots of rented.. The reason that Ireland is associated with Ireland than the spud—which did n't appear there before the starving eyes peasants.