New House Foundations Blessing & Marmalade Cake

The Ring of Rathgall

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New House Foundations Blessing & Marmalade Cake Recipe

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Hi all,

I hope you are all doing well. This week I have a few 1950-1970s recipes for you, let me know if you prefer the much older ones instead. I also brought the kids on a “mammy mystery history” tour up to the Ring of Rathgall in Tullow as part of passing on their Irish heritage. We didn’t go in and instead left some coins at the entrance while I explained how the Irish like to leave these sites alone to protect them. There is always a new playground to explore after a mammy mystery history tour so they had a great time and it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

In today’s newsletter there is…

  • Marmalade Cake Recipe

  • Stewed Fish Recipe

  • Chocolate Mousse with Whipped Cream Recipe

  • New House Foundations Blessing

  • The Great Irish Famine - Last Week’s Update

  • Cass’s Story

  • Daoiri Farrell - Creggan White Hare Poem/Song

Marmalade Cake

This recipe is from the 1950’s and came from a Carlow woman whose mother has seven different cake tins and a cake in each almost every day.

  • 4 oz butter

  • 4 oz sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • A little milk

  • 2 tablespoons of marmalade

  • 6 ozs flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder

Beat the butter and sugar until they are white and fluffy. Add the eggs, milk and marmalade to the mixture. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mix and fold until the flour is mixed throughout. Pour into a greased loaf tin and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes.

Stewed Fish Recipe

This is a recipe from the 1970s. My aunt made this for me as a child and I loved it. It isn’t something that you see on menu’s much anymore and is such as shame. Let me know if you prefer the measurements in grams or pounds. I thought this week I would change things up.

  • 400g smoked cod or haddock

  • 225 ml milk

  • 150 ml water

  • Salt and pepper

  • 75g grated cheddar cheese

  • Browned breadcrumb’s

  • A little butter

For the sauce:

  • 25g margarine

  • 25g flour

  • 375 ml. milk

Trim the fish and remove any bones. Wash well and place in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and steep for 1 minute. Lift out the fish and cut into large pieces.

Place the fish and milk mixture into a saucepan with the pepper but not the salt. Bring to the boil slowly, then lover the heat and simmer gently for 6-8 minutes. Lift out and place the fish in a greased oven dish. Drain the remaining liquid into a jug and rinse out the saucepan. It is time now to make the sauce.

Melt the margarine and stir in the flour, cooking gently for 1 minute. Gradually add the liquid that the fish was cooked in, stirring all the time. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in most of the cheese. Taste and correct the seasoning, adding salt if needed.

Pour the sauce over the fish and lift up the fish so that the sauce also gets underneath. Mix the remaining cheese with the browned crumbs and sprinkle over the fish. Dot with butter, then bake in a hot oven for 10 minutes or brown under the grill. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Chocolate Mousse with Whipped Cream Recipe

A ridiculously easy old 1970’s recipe to make at home. This recipe is tiny but I love its simplicity with just two ingredients, well three if you include the whipped cream.

  • 2 eggs

  • 50g chocolate

Place the chocolate in a basin over a saucepan of simmering water to melt, then allow to cool. Carefully separate the eggs and stir the egg yolk into warm chocolate. Whip the egg whites until stiff. Fold gently into chocolate mixture.

Pour into glasses and leave to set in a cool place. Decorate if you like with grated chocolate and serve with whipped cream.

New House Foundations Blessing

This is just a little blessing I wanted to add in here as it came up in conversation this week. Someone I was chatting with is building their home at the moment and I shared that one old Irish tradition was to add a coin in to the foundations of the house to bless it with future prosperity. Coins were often but into the walls also as well as other little blessings which I will talk about another time as I have some stories around that for another day.

So if you know someone who is about to dig foundations, the old Irish way is to pray on a coin and throw it into the foundations. There is also an old builder piseog too… If you try to underpay the builders they will bury rotten eggs in your foundations! If you are new here, this might be a good time to read more about piseog’s here.

Cass’s Story

Cass sent me in this sweet little story after in response to the apple tart recipe with jam tarts made with the leftover pastry from last week’s newsletter. Thank you Cass. I wonder if she is aware of the circumstances in Ireland around 1909, the year her great grandfather emigrated from Ireland so I have added some context below.

“I am new to the newsletter and I love hearing the history and see recipes. My grandmother was the daughter of a baker on Strand St. Kanturk, who emigrated to the US in 1909. She made us treats when it was our Sunday dinner day with my family. My older brother and sister still talk about her apple pie. There was no written recipe. Debbie tried for so many years to see if she could figure out what ingredient made it so but to no avail. Ironically, I never tasted the pie because she made little me strawberry tarts with the leftover pie dough!”

The year 1909 was only 30 years after the last famine (there were multiple in Ireland) and was 12 years after a major economic depression in Ireland, which had lasted for 23 long years. That would mean that Cass’s great grandfather was born after yet another famine and grew up during a major economic depression. Farm produce profits were down yet high rent still had to be paid. Grain from America was cheaper to buy and was being exported to Europe in increasing amounts, while meat was now being shipped from as far as New Zealand and Argentina. There was little point moving to England as the British political system was thrown into crisis as a result of a clash between the Liberal government and the House of Lords and matters were brought to a head by the refusal of the House of Lords to pass measures contained in the 1909 budget. So it makes sense that as a baker he saw his future in America and its low grain prices.

In 1909, the year that he emigrated, great change was in the air. The “unsinkable” ship, the titanic was being built in Belfast and the land act of 1909 was brought in which began to pave the way for Irish tenant farmers to purchase their own land. Over time, the successive land acts provided Irish tenant farmers with more rights than tenant farmers in the rest of the United Kingdom. Had her great grandfather stayed in Ireland, over the lifetime of his children, he would have witnessed over a quarter of a million rural labourer’s and their families who previously lived in hovels be housed in purpose built labourers cottages, transforming the Irish countryside.

If you would like to know more about the socio economic context around any of your family stories, feel free to email them to me and I will share them here.

Old Irish Letters; The Great Irish Famine

If you would like to read through some of our previous free newsletters you can do so here. We also have our gold tier newsletters on the Great Irish Famine, with last week’s below if you want to take a peak.

One of our readers asked for an Irish poem or song suggestion and so this is one that was suggested to me to share.

Creggan White Hare was a poem about unrequited love by Patrick Kavanagh, one of Ireland’s greatest poets. He wrote about the bleakness of life in rural county Monaghan and made sublime poetry about the ordinary. There is a story that he approached the famous Irish singer Luke Kelly in a pub and asked him to sing this poem as a song. Luke put a tune to it and this is considered the seminal version of the song. It is is widely considered by Irish men to be a song that could never be improved upon.

Let Me Know What You Think

Many of you have written in lovely comments, some have questions and I thought that I might read some of them out and answer any questions that you might as a first video over on my YouTube Channel @oldirishrecipes. Maybe its a silly idea, I don’t know yet. If interested sign up over there and send in any additional questions that you have. I also have a link below to help support the newsletter at

What do you think?

This is your newsletter. Let me know your thoughts and what kind of recipes or chats you want to have next. Just leave me a message in the pop up box. I read them all. 🙂

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Readers are always encouraged to send their family stories for sharing if they wish and I will always try to provide further context around these and match recipes to them where possible.

Readers are also encouraged to submit old family recipes if known to the collection. There is no obligation or expectation to do this.


Thank you to our partner Ireland Solo Ladies Travel who is sponsoring this weeks post.

If you are interested in sponsoring future newsletters you can contact Róisín at [email protected]

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Slán go fóill,

Róisín Hynes


The Old Irish Recipes Project is a project to collect and record old Irish recipes and their associated traditions in Ireland. The historical recipes, remedies and traditions provided herein are for informational purposes only. While they may offer insights into traditional practices, it is important to note that they have not been tested for efficacy or safety in modern contexts. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional or physician before attempting any old remedies, particularly if you have underlying health conditions or concerns.

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