Offaly twins help launch new cookbook for the Alzheimer Society

Friday, 5th October, 2018 9:00am

Offaly twins help launch new cookbook for the Alzheimer Society

Pictured are Nell Buckley and Dina Watkins at the launch of A Taste To Remember.

A pair of Offaly twins have helped launch a new cookbook from The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.

Fivealley's Nell Buckley and Dina Watkins helped launched the book, A Taste To Remember, at a special event last Friday, September 28, which coincided with World Alzheimer's Day.

A client at the Alzheimer Society's day care service in Birr, Dina contributed a recipe [her family's version of the classic desert Spotted Dick] for the cookbook. Spotted Dick was a firm favourite of the Watkins family when Dina and her siblings were young, particularly when their mother Julia went to visit her family in Lusmagh.

Dina's touching account of those bygone days is one of the highlights of the cookbook.

“When my twin, Nell, and I were six or seven years old, my mother Julia used to take the long journey from Dowras (Fivealley, Birr) on her high nellie bicycle to her home village of Lusmagh and then on to Victoria Lock on the Shannon. Julia's family were the lock-keepers.

“My father would encourage her to leave early morning and be back during daylight as he was nervous of her returning in the dark. Julia would have things to organise before departing – so it would be one o'clock when she'd head off ensuring we had our chores done.

“Daddy would see her as far as Galros cross and, later that evening, meet her on the way back. We knew what daddy had planned for us when Mammy left. He took out the mixing bowl that Mammy used to make bread in. But he had a twist on his bread – he would add around five cups of flour, 2-3 tsp of bicarbonate of soda, 3 tsp of sugar, half a jug of buttermilk – and then, he would add one cup of sultanas which were like chocolate to us!

“He would mix it all together and then empty the lot onto a floured table, kneed the dough into a circle, cut into four and then place into the baker and put the lid on.

“The hot coals were then put on the lid and it was left to cook for 45 mins. The smell of the Spotted Dick cooking would make our mouths water – during rationing in Ireland from 1941 to 1946 sugar, sweets and all things nice for children were in short supply.

“Amy my older sister, John my brother, my twin Nell and myself would be so excited on those days as we would have to eat the Spotted Dick before Mammy returned – this was no problem!

“When it baked, Daddy would get the butter which Mammy would have churned before she left for Lusmagh. It was our secret, making it more exciting for the days when Mam went to Lusmagh and we were never upset or lonely when she left.

“My father taught this recipe to his three girls. I made it for my own children every week when they were kids. It never lasted long as it was shared between my four daughters and four sons but on the odd occasion they had a slice or two in their school lunchbox,” Dina said.

As well as featuring recipes from people with dementia, family members and volunteers, A Taste to Remember also includes contributions from leading Irish chefs including Darina Allen.

It is estimated that there are 55,000 people with dementia in Ireland and for every one person with dementia three others are directly affected.

There are approximately 4,000 new cases of dementia annually in Ireland.

The book will be available in bookshops and online at via

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