What Was the Irish Diet Before Potatoes?

what was the irish diet before potatoes

Before the potato became the main staple in Irish diets, a number of different foods were used. They were nutritious and filling, helping people to survive.

Among them were salted beef, fish, and eggs. Fatty fish was more popular than white fish as it was easier to store and transport in the winter.


Before the potato, the Irish diet was dominated by meat. Beef and pork were most popular. Fish was also a staple of the diet and the variety of shellfish available was exceptional.

On the vegetable front, cabbages, onions, garlic and parsnips were staples alongside wild herbs and greens. Fruit was a big part of the Irish diet too.

In winter, when milk was scarce, herring was the preferred source of protein. Occasionally people ate bacon and a variety of seaweeds was available too.

Black pudding is also a staple of the traditional diet. Pork meat, fat and blood mixed with barley, suet and oatmeal is the basis of this hearty dish.


Before potatoes, the Irish diet revolved around dairy products, grains and meat. The diet was largely a seasonal one, and vegetables were often gathered in the wild.

A few staple vegetables were available including cabbages, onions and garlic alongside a range of wild herbs and greens. Some varieties of berries such as sloe, blackberries and raspberries were also grown.

Milk was a key part of the poorer class’s diet, but this nutrient-rich drink was too valuable to be used as a drink, and was instead taken in small amounts for making butter or fattening pigs for sale.

The potato was introduced to Ireland from the Americas in 1570 and quickly became a staple food for the Irish population, particularly the poor. It grew well in the poor soils of Ireland, was easy to store and contained many essential vitamins.


The irish diet before potatoes was based on a variety of foods including milk and oats. This was a healthy and varied diet that provided plenty of protein, vitamins and minerals.

The Irish ate a lot of grain-based foods like oats, barley, wheat and rye. These grains were eaten as porridge, breads or puddings.

These foods were also mixed with fresh vegetables, boiled potatoes and some shell fish, like cockles.

This was a nutritious diet that allowed the average person to live a long, productive life.

The irish diet before dairy was very similar to the one we have today with lots of meat, grain-based foods, fruit and vegetables. But it was a very different diet for the poorer classes.


Before the potato made its way to Ireland, the country’s diet revolved around dairy, meat, vegetables and grains. These foods were mainly cooked as porridge or bread, with grains like oats and wheat often used in both.

Oats were a key part of the Irish diet because they not only provided nourishment for humans, but also fed livestock. Oats could be eaten as porridge, or in a wide variety of breads, such as oatcakes and flatbreads.

Oats were an essential part of the diet for millennia, even before the potato arrived in Ireland in the 16th century. In fact, one of the early Irish saints, Molua, was said to be able to sow oats and have them spring up on their own.


Before the potato arrived in Ireland, the Irish diet was almost exclusively dairy-based. This included oats, milk and cheese.

The dairy was particularly valuable for poor families because it was cheap to produce, and the nutrient-rich whey was often left for use as butter or fat to sell on the market.

It was also a source of protein. Black pudding was a staple of the diet for those who had a cow.

In addition to dairy, the Irish ate a variety of fruits and vegetables. Cabbages, onions and garlic were popular, as well as wild berries like heathberries and whortleberries.