Let's take a trip down memory lane with an Irish poem for Christmas. Let's remember the annual baking ritual when the Irish Christmas cake would be made in years gone by.
Christmas cake in Ireland is a rich, dense fruit cake that's topped with almond paste or marzipan, and royal or fondant icing.
Christmas cakes are made in November, and stored to allow their flavor to develop. The addition of whiskey to the cake batter means this cake will store without spoiling for a few months.
Máire Malone is an Irish poet based in England. In her poem, Stirrings, she reminisces about making Christmas cakes with her mother in Dublin many years ago.
I hope you will enjoy this Irish Christmas poem.
Stirrings by Máire Malone
Mid December and the stirrings of excitement
Hang lightly on the air
Trees pirouetting towards a grey-white sky
Strings of multicoloured lights that rainbow streets
Flash spirits back to childhood Christmas Eves
When front room windows shimmered in the faith
Of those who still believed in Santa Claus and God
Mid November, and the pantry groaned
With raisins, sultanas, currants
Our eyes as big as cherries glowed on baking day
Mum fluffed the marge and sugar into quiffs
When she turned to check the recipe
We’d finger scoop the mixture to our mouths
Relishing the rich buttery grit.
Then a spoon of treacle
Coiling down into a thin snake
A lemon rind that sprayed its summer on the air
And almonds slithering out of their skins like fish
Mesmerised we watched the sifting snow
The perfect yolks meandering out of shape
Witches of the cauldon we stirred our wishes in
Then Mum would grease and line the base
Sheets of brown paper stood as barricades
Against the threat of too much heat
Placing her offering on the centre oven shelf
She’d bless herself and say
If a cake as rich as that should ever flop
We could never afford to have it replaced,
By Máire Malone
(Selected and published in Norwich Writer’s Circle Anthology of Open Poetry Competition 1998)
Máire Malone was born and reared in Dublin, Ireland's capital city. As a young woman she worked as a medical secretary.
When she moved to the UK, she studied Arts and Psychology, leading her to a career in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
She loves to write and recently published her first novel, The Dream Circle.
Her poetry has been selected and published by Ver Poets and other anthologies, including collections published by Robin Barratt.
Her short stories have received prize wins in Scribble magazine. One of her short stories was shortlisted in Words and Women Competition, 2018.
She is currently writing a novel about the Irish Famine. She lives in Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom with her husband.
I hope this Irish Christmas cake baking trip down memory lane brings back fond memories of Christmas time for you too.
Here is my Christmas wish for you in the Irish language...
Bíodh Nollaig shona shíochánta agaibh.
(Pronounced bee-uck Null-ig hun-ah hee-kawn-tha ah-gwiv.
Have a happy and peaceful Christmas.