I spend my time surrounded by books.
Freebird Records, also known as the Secret Book & Record Shop on Wicklow Street, specialise in vinyl and second-hand books and a black notebook immediately caught my eye.
Dishevelled around the edges and with no name on its cover, the book housed immaculate handwriting with elaborate descriptions. It felt very old.
I picked it up and headed to the counter where myself and one of the assistants had a chat about who could this mystery writer be. And so, my mission begins.
It’s more out of curiosity that I would love to find the person/family that this book belongs to. It’s definitely a book that I plan to use (it has great recipes!) and I can give it a loving home, but I want to find its connections.
I’m still reading through it and so far I get the feeling that this person was either on some cookery course or perhaps studying it in college because there’s a line randomly put in that says “lecture on baking”. The ingredients are written in ounces.
There are sections on recipes, household management, renting and cooking methods. It’s all incredibly practical. Interesting to note too that there’s a whole piece on “oil lamps” and mentions of “American cloth”.
With a focus on the traditional larder, copper cooking utensils, silver egg spoons and brass, I feel like this is possibly quite an old copybook though I think it might not be 100% Irish.
I noticed a mention of Kidderminster carpets which the writer notes are “considered very serviceable as they are cheap” and on further sleuthing, they’re based in the UK.
A note on paper from Walsh’s Hotel in Maghera, Derry also is slipped into the book which a recipe for marmalade scribbled on it.
In different handwriting the following names are written: Alice “Were?”, Nellie Scott, Kate Mc??, Maggie Hegarty, Cassie “Burns?”, Cassie Gallagher, Bridget Shea, Julia Harrington, Katie Sullivan, Lizzie Mahony, “MJ Brian?”, B Connelly, M Brian and “?” Shea. So perhaps an Irish person had this on their course?
There appears to be three types of handwriting, the main being the immaculate writing in black, then a more condensed and spread out type and a rather loose piece of writing that focuses on Carrageen Moss.
It jumps around then because in another part of the book it has “Glendale + CA Granby Road Manchester” but no other explanation and another page has “Dishes taught to” what I think looks like “Glengarriff” in Cork.
There are recipes for Rice Pudding, Irish Stew, Boiled Mutton, Boiled Bacon, Semolina Pudding and Cabbage and Welsh Cheese Bakes too – yum!
Does this writing look familiar to you? You can drop me an email to unacast[at]gmail[dot]com and I would be very grateful if you could spread the word.