What foods were most commonly eaten in Ireland from the earliest times?

Wednesday 25th April 8:00 pm

An overview will be presented in this lecture of the main food products typically consumed by the Irish population at large from prehistoric times and on through the medieval period. Dairy and cereal foods, supplemented by fruits and vegetables, were the mainstay of the common historical diets. Relative to these , the consumption of beef and fish by the general population appears to have been much more limited. Notwithstanding this, the staple foods commonly consumed could have provided much of the main nutritional requirements of the general population.

Professor Liam Downey was, for over a decade from the early 1960s, engaged in research and development of dairy products. Arising from this work he published a book entitled Food Quality and Nutrition. This set out Europe’s food research requirements. Over the following two decades he was Director of four national organisations, most recently of Teagasc. In 2001 he published a Foresight study, which presented a 2020 perspective on the agri-food sector in Ireland. Over the past decade he has been Adjunct Professor of Archaeology at UCD, and of Biology at Maynooth University. Together with his colleague Prof. Muiris Ó Súilleabháin he has recently published a book entitled Antiquities of Rural Ireland, which synopsises the current state of knowledge in respect of Ireland’s prominent archaeological features, many of which are associated with the progressive evolution over the centuries of Ireland’s farming and rural economy.