The Place for real traditions.Irish Culture begins in prehistory. First was a paleolithic mindset-based on hunting. The spirits of animals aid in this. Groups had totems- birds, boar,for identity. Next came a Neolithic awareness- crops, agriculture,farm animals. Villages and lineages. Multiple gods became single gods with many powers. Chieftains by birth ruled. Next the Bronze age with rule by heroes. We got cookbooks and recipes left the mind. How do we know what to do? That's our purpose.

Irish Chieftain's feast

Friday, February 8, 2008

Stirabout and Skilly

Stirabout a wonderful word for a staple. It can also be made using other
grains such as barley. You can also call it porridge. It can be thin and
is called Skilly. Most put things into it other than oats and hot water
however the Irish tended to keep it simple despite availablity of fresh
greens growing wild.

For instance, in the matter of food, Dr. O'Donovan renders a very
ancient commentary on the first clause of the law of fosterage as
follows: "What are their victuals? They are all fed on stirabout : but
the materials of which it is made, and the flavoring with it, vary
according to the rank of the parents of the children. The children of
the inferior grades are fed to bare sufficiency on stirabout made of
oatmeal on buttermilk or water, and it is taken with stale (salt)
butter. The sons of the chieftain grades are fed to satiety on stirabout
made of barley-meal upon new milk. taken with fresh butter. The sons of
kings are fed on stirabout made of wheat- en meal upon new milk, taken
with honey." According to one authority, every 641 foster-child should
be provided with two suits of clothing,-From: New Catholic World, 1871

The owner of the cast dries the corn himself, and supplies the turf.
In the time of the old kilns, the corn was sometimes dried at the
townlund kiln.
In this country up to sixty or seventy years ago, the first few
sheaves'of oats cut by the reapers used to be scutched and winnowed,
and the corn put in a pot over the fire, and dried. It was then ground
in a quern, and stirabout made from it for the breakfast of the reapers
and the family. The same was done in the case of any other meal at
which stirabout was used during reaping time. This shows the speed
with which food could be dressed by means of a quern. '
Phapin.' In Munster up to forty years ago, and perhaps yet in
remote parts of the province, the gleaning of the wheat crop was made
into stuff called ' prapin.' The grain was shed by rustling the ears in
the hands. The husks were removed by blowing, or by the wind. The
wheat was then put in a pot, or on a griddle, and dried over a fire. "
When dried it was ground in a quern, mixed with new milk or cream,
and eaten without more ado. ' Praupeen' was a great favourite with
children, and was their standard of comparison. Any nice cereal food
was said to be nearly as nice as praupeen.
To prepare food with a quern is easier than most people imagine,
and the system is marvellously economical, besides getting the best
out of cereals. Everyone knows the difference between freshly-
ground and old-ground coffee.- From: Proceedings of the Royal Irish
Academy, 1907.

Skilly (common), water-gruel, in
the workhouse and prisons.
So much the better for you, I say,
So much the better for you.
If you never act silly, you'll keep off the
That's so much the better for you. —
Music Hall Song, A Lincolnshire term, skillg, oatmeal - gruel, from
obsolete English skellg, thin and light, applied to thin, poor food ;
also sailor's soup of many ingredients. Skilly and toke (popular),
applied to anything mild, insipid. The mugs and the jugs never joke,
never gag, never work in a wheeze; no, their talk is all skilly and
toke.—Punch.-From:A Dictionary of Slang, Jargton&Cant.,Albert Barere, 1890