‘I always associate food with speeches. My family are divils for them’

The Irish Times: We Love Food – Olwen Inglis, circulation


Something I have and always will associate with food are speeches. My family are divils for giving speeches. On big occasions, with well over 20 at the table, there would almost be a queue, people waiting anxiously for their chance “to say a few words”.

I suppose it began with my granddad, Paddy. After the meal, all us kids would be running around, giddy on Aunt Maura’s pavlova. But always at some point a wave of silence would sweep across the room. We’d hear “unaccustomed as I am”, the words Paddy used to start every speech, and we’d know that it was quiet time.

He would go around the room thanking everyone by name, always mischievously leaving out someone to give us all a giggle. He would remind us of the importance of family and how it is something that we should always celebrate, “it was poor the heart that never rejoiced”.

Time has passed, and Paddy is no longer here to silence the room. But the speeches go on and in the few I’ve given, I’ve always thought back to those meals and asked myself what Granddad would have said.

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