In a world of simplicity and authenticity, the festive season was marked by traditional flavors and time-honored recipes that defined the Irish holiday table. Let's explore the distinctive dishes that graced the Christmas celebrations a century ago and discover how they differ from the modern-day fare.

The main course

Roast goose with potato stuffing

A century ago, the focal point of an Irish Christmas feast was often a succulent roast goose, symbolizing abundance and festivity. What set this era apart was the unique potato stuffing, showcasing the ubiquity of this humble ingredient in Irish cuisine.


  • 1 whole goose (approximately 12-14 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Rinse and pat the goose dry. Season with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, combine grated potatoes, chopped onion, melted butter, chopped thyme, and lemon zest to create the stuffing.

Stuff the goose cavity with the potato mixture and secure with skewers or kitchen twine.

Roast the goose for 2.5 to 3 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).

Allow the goose to rest before carving.

Side dishes




Colcannon, a classic Irish dish, made its appearance on Christmas tables a century ago and remains a timeless favorite. Melding the goodness of mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale, colcannon exemplifies the simplicity and heartiness of Irish comfort food.


  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup cabbage or kale, finely shredded
  • 1 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and mash with butter.

In a separate pan, sauté cabbage or kale and scallions in butter until softened.

Fold the cabbage mixture into the mashed potatoes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Plum pudding

Plum pudding.

Plum pudding.

Christmas pudding was a staple of Irish holiday celebrations a century ago, rich with dried fruits, spices, and the spirit of anticipation. Plum pudding was often prepared weeks in advance, allowing the flavors to deepen over time.


  • 1 cup suet, grated
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup chopped candied peel
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup stout or dark beer


In a large bowl, mix suet, brown sugar, breadcrumbs, flour, and mixed spice.

Add raisins, currants, candied peel, almonds, and citrus zest to the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and add them to the mixture.

Stir in the stout or dark beer and mix until well combined.

Grease a pudding basin and spoon the mixture into it.

Cover with parchment paper and foil, securing it with string.

Steam the pudding for 6-8 hours, checking water levels periodically.

Allow the pudding to cool and store in a cool, dark place for at least a month before serving.

As we revisit the culinary traditions of an Irish Christmas dinner a century ago, we find ourselves immersed in the heritage and flavors that shaped the festive celebrations of yesteryears. The roast goose with potato stuffing, colcannon, and plum pudding reflects not only the ingredients of the time but also the spirit of community and tradition. In comparing these vintage recipes with modern-day fare, we appreciate the evolution of Irish Christmas dinners while cherishing the timeless essence that connects generations through the joy of food and shared memories.