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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Ireland unlike the rest of W. Europe, remained free of Roman influence in the early centuries of the 1st millennium ad, and thereby clung to vestiges of an earlier Iron Age Celtic culture for far longer than her European counterparts. With the arrival of Christianity in the early 5th century, aspects of Ireland’s unique tribal, rural, oral, and hierarchical society, with its peculiar foodstuffs, were committed to writing within the scriptoria of the great monastic foundations. From at least the 7th century onwards, Irish monks turned out an unrivalled body of secular texts, the oldest extant vernacular sources in W. Europe, and it is these sources that provide an invaluable insight into the range of native Irish foodstuffs. Literary traditions are especially strong in Ireland, and the Irish have an unrivalled wealth of written material about their foodways, often romantic/tragic/of extraordinary dramatic impact.