Saint Patrick - 'A Unique Voice from the Dawn of Irish History' - Today is the Octave Day of the Feast of Saint Patrick and thus brings to an end of the series of posts based on the work of modern scholar Dáibhí Ó Cróin...
7 hours ago
Eight bishops came to Brigit out of Hui Briuin Cualann, i.e. From Telach na n-epscop to Loch Lemnachta beside Kildare on the north. Brigit asked her cook, Blathnait, whether she had food for the bishops. Dixit ilia non. Brigit was ashamed: so the angel told her to milk the cows again. The cows were milked and they filled the tubs, and they would have filled all the vessels in Leinster, so that the milk went over the vessels and made a lake thereof, unde Loch Lemnachta 'New-milk Lough' dicitur.
Domestic arrangements are mentioned incidentally in the texts. A monastery usually had a kitchen separate from the refectory, and this was where the food was prepared. Meat had to be dried and salted. We know very little about how the Irish obtained their salt, although it was an essential commodity, and a lump of salt was an attractive present. It could have been obtained from sea-water by a process of evaporation, but there is some evidence that seaweed was collected and burned and the salty ashes used in curing meat. The monastic kitchen seems to have had no oven, and pottery is rare from excavated Irish sites except in the north-east. Dough for the bread was kneaded in wooden troughs and then baked on a griddle or baking flag, and bullauns which are often found on sites may have been used for grinding and preparing food. A cauldron, suitable for stews, was a luxury article, whilst meat might be roasted on spits or boiled in water heated by hot stones: clay pits or wooden vats could be used for this purpose.