Listen to me tell my story:

My name is Mary Collins and I live in Avila Park. I am the eldest of eight children. My mother had nine children but one passed away at nine months old. I got married myself and had four children. I had a few miscarriages at the beginning but I ended up having four children. I have three boys and one girl and they all have children now thank God only two and three children each.

So I remember my mother cooking years ago. Mostly we’d always get a boiled potato in their skin, a boiled spud in them days everybody got them no matter what you got with them. If you had a boiled spud you weren’t going to go hungry. She always had flour to bake the bread and pancakes and brown bread, if she had fruit she’d make currant bread or just plain white cake bread. Tea was a very popular drink, like you had tea with nearly everything, we had a sweet can to make the tea in or a cup of tae as we called it. Years ago when you’d be out travelling you used to get the sweet cans in the shops, when the sweet can would be emptied we used to get them and they reckoned the sweet can made the nicest tea.

I remember me mother cooking at the fire, the campfire, she had an oven. She used to go to the butchers and buy bacon, belly bacon they called it and dripping. She used to slice it and fry it in the oven with the dripping and the cake bread.

I also remember my uncle, lord have mercy on him. He used to go collecting the eels and we’d run away screaming. He’d have four or five eels. My granny used to chop them, dip them in flour and fry them in the pan. We didn’t know what we were eating. They were gorgeous. If we knew what we were eating we’d have been screaming. They were very nice.

Pancakes would be very big recipe for her. They were quick. I would probably do cooking every day for the grandchildren. I do stews and spuds and cabbage. I’d do a lot of the old recipes boiling and stuff like that.

I haven’t done the Goose till now. I’ve heard my mother talking about it. I might give it a go now this Christmas. The nicest thing of all was in the morning for breakfast or dinner. My mother would mash the potatoes and cabbage together and fry them with a bit of bacon. That was very filling with the cake bread. That was a very traditional dinner.

You’d rarely get a sausage fried, we mostly ate bacon like cured bacon, no sausages. They would be like a treat if they were doing a coddle or something you wouldn’t have them everyday

It would be mostly spuds and spud bread and pancakes and cake bread. Onions thrown in with the dripping and bread, you’d see a lot of Travellers eating. A boiled spud cut in half with a bit of country butter or cooked meat, was popular in my house when I was younger.

For desserts it was custard and jelly and there’d be rice or a bit of sago. There would be a lot of porridge for children going to school in the mornings and if there wasn’t much else and you were hungry there would always be porridge. Toast bread, it was a treat, if you did have sliced bread you’d hold it up to the fire on a fork to toast it. My father would have fruit apples, oranges and bananas. If he came back with them it was a real treat. You wouldn’t have sweets or ice cream or fizzy drinks or anything like that. You would never ever see biscuits or anything like that.

At Christmas you would have custard and jelly and my mother would make the Christmas cake herself.