Original Recipe For Irish ‘Yellow Man’.

The very talented Mrs Theodora FitzGibbon (née Rosling) was born in 1916, in London, England, to parents John Archibald Rosling and Alice Winfred (née Hodgins). She would grow up to become a successful model; actress; Irish cookery writer [‘A Taste Of ‘ series]; novelist and playwright, [‘The Flight of the Kingfisher’ (1967), latter made into a successful television play for BBC TV; together with two memoirs, ‘With Love’ (1982), and ‘Love Lies a Loss’ (1985)].

During her lifetime which stretched over a 74 year period, she married twice; first to Constantine Fitzgibbon (1944). She would later meet the photographer and surrealist painter Peter Rose Pulham (1910-1956) in Paris, where they began a four year love affair. She divorced her first husband in 1960, to marry George Morrison in the same year.

Book ‘A taste of Ireland’ (1968) and its author Theodora FitzGibbon (1916-1991).

Theodora FitzGibbon most certainly travelled in Co. Tipperary and recorded recipes gleaned from towns like Cloughjordan and Thurles in Tipperary North Riding, and like Carrick-on-Suir, in Tipperary South Riding. Same Tipperary recipes were included in her highly popular series of “A Taste Of”, which were regional recipe specialities, first published some 56 years ago, in 1968. Complementing the recipe text in her publications were archival photographs of life and landscapes, as viewed back in 19th century Ireland.

In 1987 Theodora FitzGibbon was awarded the Prix Choucroutre First Prize for European Food Journalism at Bonn, in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Theodora FitzGibbon would go on to become one of the founding members of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild and the Guild’s first ever President.
Theodora FitzGibbon, passed away in 1991, at her residence in Killiney, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Older readers will remember the song ‘The Ould Lammas Fair’, which contained the lines:

“But the scene that haunts my memory is kissing Mary Ann,
Her pouting lips all sticky, from eating Yellow Man”.

But how many of our readers, today, can claim they have eaten “Yellow Man”.

Yellow Manwas a toffee which was made by the same family for several hundred years. It was a brittle yellow toffee which had sections broken off from a large block.
Theodora FitzGibbon gives us the original recipe, but first let’s listen to the almost 100-year-old song itself; sung here by Northern Irish singer, the late Ms Ruby Murray (1935–1996), together with the lyrics written by the disabled Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, bog oak carver, the late Mr John Henry MacAuley, latter who passed away in 1937, before his song became famous.

The Old Lammas Fair.

At the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle long ago,
I met a little colleen, who set me heart a-glow;
She was smiling at her daddy, buying lambs from Paddy Roe,
At the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle 0.
I seen her home that night,
When the moon was shining bright,
From the ould Lammas Fair at Ballycastle-O.

At the Ould Lammas Fair, boys, were you ever there?
Were you ever at the fair in Ballycastle 0?
Did you treat your Mary Ann to some Dulse and Yellow Man?
At the Ould Lammas Fair in Ballycastle 0.

In Flanders fields afar, while resting from the war,
We drank Bon-Sante to the Flemish lassies 0,
But the scene that haunts my memory is kissing Mary Ann,
Her pouting lips all sticky from eating Yellow Man.
We crossed the silver Morgey and strolled across the strand,
From the Ould Lammas Fair at Ballycastle 0!

Repeat Chorus:

There’s a neat little cabin on the slopes of ould Knocklaod,
It’s lit by love and sunshine, where the heather honey’s made,
By the bees ever humming and our childer’s joyous call,
Resounds across the valley when the shadows fall.
I take my fiddle down and my Mary smiling there,
Brings back a happy memory of the Lammas Fair

Repeat Chorus:


Original Recipe for Yellow Man.

Ingredients: A one pound tin of golden syrup.
A half-pound (or one cup) of brown sugar.
One teaspoon of baking soda.
One heaped tablespoon of butter.
Two tablespoons of vinegar.

Method: Melt the butter and run this round the pan.
Add sugar, syrup and vinegar.
Stir until sugar and all ingredients are dissolved/melted.
Boil without stirring until a little of the toffee becomes crisp and brittle, if put in cold water.
Next add the baking soda, which will make the ingredients foam.

Stir again, then pour on to a greased slab or a large dish.
Pull apart until it is pale yellow in colour. It can then be poured into a greased tin and cut into squares if preferred.

With this original recipe now shared, and local elections coming up; local politicians might like to advance funding to some enterprising Thurles resident, latter anxious to start a factory manufacturing Thurles Yellow Man. God knows we need the employment.

This “Old Lammas Fair” event dates back to the 17th century, however on August 28th 2001, a Royal Ulster Constabulary officer discovered a large incendiary bomb in the centre of Ballycastle, Co Antrim, whilst this fair was running. The area was quickly cleared by British Army bomb disposal experts, who happily managed to defused the device before it exploded.
The 2020 and 2021 editions of the fair were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however this year “The Old Lammas Fair” will take place again from Saturday to Tuesday, August 24th to August 27th 2024.

Other Tipperary recipes published by Mrs Theodora FitzGibbon, will be revealed here shortly.


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