Category Archives: Essays

Potato Soup and Soda Bread

Delicate and mild to the palate, unsurprisingly, homemade potato soup is made from the famous, and universally known potato, and has been enjoyed by many generations, throughout the last four centuries in Ireland. But, unknown to most, the potato has changed the course of Irish history.

The Spanish Conquistadors who while conquering the Americas in the sixteenth century were very impressed by their healthy and strong adversaries and quickly concluded that this was due to their main food source: the potato. Being very impressed by the nutritious value of this brown muddy vegetable, they took the potato back to Europe offering it to the Spanish Royals; who consequently weren’t very impressed by its taste at all. The potato was probably introduced in Ireland in 1586; at a time that the country was in great crisis. In fact, this is the era when the British wish to conquer Ireland was seriously enforced after centuries of small and irrelevant skirmishes. Henry VIII taking no half measures confiscated lands from the Catholics and enforced new laws making it impossible for them to own land. Indeed, the majority of Irish Catholics were now forced to change their religion to Protestantism; refusal resulted in banishment to the infertile west coastal regions, or death. Continue reading