Colcannon in History

- Changing tradition with baby reds and bacon -

"Colcannon. Originally and Irish dish of boiled potatoes and cabbage or kale mashed together and flavoured with onion, shallots, or leeks and cream or butter...The word 'colcannon' is from the Gaelic cal ceannann' which literally means white-headed cabbage. However, the cannon' part of the name might be a derivative of the old Irish cainnenn', translated variously as garlic, onion, or llek. Therefore it can be suggested that in its earliest form colcannon may have been a simple mixture of some brassica and allium. One of the earliest Irish references to the dish as a mash of potatoes and cabbages is found in the Diary of Wiliam Bulkely, of Bryndda, near Amlwch in Anglesey, who made two journeys to Dublin in 1735...The dish was introduced into England in the 18th century, where it became a favorite of the upper classes...In Ireland colcannon was associated traditionally with Hallowe'en (31 October) festivities, when it was used for the purposes of marriage divination. Charms hidden in bowls of colcannon were portents of a marriage proposal should unmarried girls be lucky enough to find them, whilst others filled their socks with spoonfuls of colcannon and hung them from the handle of the front door in the belief that the first man through the door would become their future husband." ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 203)



  • 3 lbs baby red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • kerrygold butter
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 2 cups diced bacon
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt


Start the water for the potatoes. Make sure to salt your water. With your water started, wash and cut your baby red potatoes into quarters. Prep other ingredients to previous specifications. With your water boiling, add your potatoes. They will take around 15 minutes, but stand by and check them with a fork just to be sure.

Take this time to sautée your kale, garlic, and bacon!

When your potatoes are boiled, drain the water and place them in a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl with the half & half, butter, and sour cream. Mash and mix all ingredients with electric mixer until they have a whipped texture.

Now, that you have your mashed potatoes, incorporate your other ingredients. Mix well. If you're feeling ceáfrach (frisky), add some grated sharp cheddar cheese, and make your colcannon a pot 'o gold!

Éirinn go Brách and Enjoy! Visit Irish American Mom for this original recipe and more traditional irish dishes.