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When did turkey become part of Ireland's traditional Christmas dinner?

There are just six sleeps left until Christmas Day which means people across the country are prep...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

11.56 19 Dec 2020


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When did turkey become part of...

When did turkey become part of Ireland's traditional Christmas dinner?

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

11.56 19 Dec 2020


Share this article


There are just six sleeps left until Christmas Day which means people across the country are preparing their festive menus.

For many, that will include a Christmas dinner where the turkey is the centrepiece.

The bird may be associated with the annual feast, but that hasn't always been the case.

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Ross Golden Bannon, a member of 'The Irish Food Writers' Guild: A Voice for Better Eating', explained the history behind the tradition.

He told The Home Show with Sinead Ryan that turkey came to Ireland in Tudor times so it "has been part of the repertoire for many years".

He said: "But traditionally, in many parts of Ireland, right up until the 1950s or 1960s, goose was actually the central dish on the table.

"A lot of Irish housewives used to buy a few baby turkeys in the summertime and rear them and then they would pluck them and prepare them to be sold at Christmas.

"The thing about a goose was it could just run wild, it looked after itself.

"What they used to do is they would send it out into the fields after harvest and they would pick up every last bit of grain that might have been missed so they would always be nice and plump come Christmas."

When did turkey become part of Ireland's traditional Christmas dinner?

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Mr Golden Bannon said goose is not difficult to cook and that "maybe it's the time to try it" this year as people may be having a smaller Christmas dinner.

450g of cooked meat should be allocated to each person at dinner, which gives people an idea of what size bird they should buy.

"The flavour is out of this world," he added.

Mr Golden Bannon said other wild game such as pheasant could be an option too for those wanting to experiment this year.

He also gave a history of how food in Ireland was influenced by how it was traded in our cities.

Cork was the "provisions capital of the British empire" whereby spices and other goods would arrive there.

Once the spices arrived, Irish dairy and beef could be preserved and then exported across the world.

Mr Golden Bannon added: "All throughout the Napoleonic Wars we were huge supplies of spiced and salted beef to the British army and beyond."

Main image: File photo.

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