The Irish Potato
The main foodstuff of Irish children is the humble potato. We all grew up on a potato diet, which was quite varied as there are literally hundreds of ways to cook potatoes. No meal was complete without a potato in it. They might be fried, boiled, sautéed, mashed, stewed, sliced, baked or roasted but they were always there and a meal was not a meal without them. As a child growing up in Dublin I had my fair share of potatoes but I never ate them with their skins on. Jacket potatoes, as they are referred to nowadays.
In Dublin potato skins went into the compost. I was horrified to think that anybody might eat a potato with its skin still on. I did not believe it until I heard a poem that convinced me that the people in Cork did exactly that.
Irish Potato Poem
I am aru
Do you ate potatoes?
Bedad, I do
How'd ye ate them?
Skin an' all
Bad for the stomach?
This is a poem from my childhood. It should be noted that Cork people have a language all of their own and it sometimes hard for a Dublin Jackeen to understand a Cork accent (and vice versa, it must be said). Jackeen was a semi-rude term for a Dub used by people from anywhere in Ireland that were not of Dublin origin. In this poem the first word ‘aru’ means ‘Are you’ but is pronounced Aroo with the roo sounding like the Australian baby Kangaroo. Bedad means indeed and the final ‘at all’ is just rolled together as ‘atall’. The poem is basically a question and answer session which pokes fun at Irishmen and Irishwomen from Cork. I first heard the poem when I went to Croke Park (in Dublin) to see a football match between Cork and Dublin.
Cork versus Dublin
A great rivalry exists between these two counties, especially on the playing fields. There are 32 counties in Ireland and they all compete yearly in the national hurling and football championships to become All-Ireland Champions. The GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) organize the tournaments and promote the national sport at school level. The best west of Ireland teams are Galway and Mayo (two great potato growing counties to boot!). Meath and Dublin are tops in the east and the south is dominated by Kilkenny, Cork, Kerry, Waterford and Tipperary. In the north the strong teams are Down, Armagh and Derry. The top counties in hurling are Kilkenny, Tipp and Cork but occasionally other counties win the title. In football the top teams are from Kerry and Dublin.
All Ireland Football Championship Winners
Cork has won 7 titles. Dublin has won 23 titles
All Ireland Hurling Championship Winners
Cork has won 30 titles. Dublin has won 6 titles.
Cork last met Dublin in an All Ireland Final in 1952, when they (Cork) won the Hurling title by a score of 2-14 to 0-7. Dublin have beaten Cork in all 6 football finals where the 2 counties clashed but these games all occurred over 100 years ago.
Spring potatoes with skins on
Dublin is the capital of Ireland but many people regard Cork as the cultural capital so it seemed strange, at the time, to be derogatory towards the Corkmen and Corkwomen by reciting the ‘Aru from Cork’ poem on potatoes. It turns out that the best part of the humble Irish potato is at the skin or surface of the spud. It was many years later before I ventured to eat a potato ‘skin and all’ but having done so I soon realized what I had been missing. There is no better taste that that of newly dug spring potatoes, boiled in their skins and slathered in butter. A truly melt in the mouth taste known to all Irish men and women regardless of their county of birth.
'If you're Irish' or just want to know about Ireland
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