Mary Cannon’s Commonplace Book

An Irish Kitchen in the 1700s

By: Marjorie Quarton

Publication Date: 7 October 2010


‘To Bake a Pigg in a Pan,’ ‘To Make Black Cherry Beer,’ ‘To Cure the Dropsy.’ These are just a few samples from an eighteenth-century Commonplace Book, passed down the generations from the kitchen of Mary Cannon to her many times great-granddaughter Marjorie Quarton. A Commonplace Book was a scrapbook for sayings, letters, prayers, measurements, or, as in this instance, of recipes.

Mary Cannon lived in Dunleary (now Dun Laoghaire) and collected over 120 recipes between 1700 and 1707. They are presented here in sections such as ffishe, ffleshe, Puddings and Deserts, Pickles and Preserves.

The visceral vocabulary and archaic spellings of these dishes will refresh our word hoard, while imparting a sumptuous flavour to Ireland’s gastronomic repertoire. Unopened and untried for over 300 years, they form a unique resource for food historians and knights of the dining table.

Marjorie Quarton has edited these recipes, commenting on the significance and usage of certain ingredients. She has added fragments of family history, from Jacobite leaders and Huguenot refugees to tales of the Indian Mutiny. The recipes are illustrated by Alice Bouilliez, also a descendent of Mary Cannon.


Marjorie Quarton, née Smethwick, was born in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary in 1930 and educated in Dublin. Her novels include Renegade (1991), Corporal Jack (1988) and No Harp Like My Own (1987). She has written short stories, children’s books and standard works on border collies and other animals. Her memoir Breakfast the Night Before was published by Lilliput in 2000.



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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 160 × 240 mm
Publication Date

7 October 2010


Hardback, 175pp

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