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If you eat a full Irish breakfast, you won't be hungry for lunch. While traditional Irish breakfasts vary from place to place in Ireland, they have many similarities.

Avoca Lodge's Irish breakfast in Cahersiveen, County Kerry
Avoca Lodge's Irish breakfast in Cahersiveen, County Kerry
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

During our Kerry tour, we enjoyed great homemade breakfasts at B&Bs in Killarney and Cahersiveen.

What is a full Irish breakfast?

At Avoca Lodge, in Cahersiveen, proprietor Carmel Walsh cooked us a hearty breakfast consisting of a fried egg, grilled tomatoes, slabs of fried back bacon, breakfast sausages, fried sliced potatoes and two types of pudding.

"Irishmen say that a meal is not a meal without potatoes," said our affable Ireland guide, Frank Walsh (no relation to Carmel).

Avoca Lodge bed and breakfast
Avoca Lodge bed and breakfast
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Difference between black and white puddings

Black pudding, or blood pudding, is a soft dark sausage, made from cow or pig blood, mixed with oatmeal and spices, stuffed into casings and then boiled. To prepare black pudding for breakfast, Carmel Walsh sliced it into thick coins and pan-fried them.

What does black pudding taste like? It's delicious. The flavor is meaty and nutty. The texture is slightly chewy in the center and crisp on the outside.

White pudding, which is actually grey in color, tastes different than black pudding. Made from ground pork, oatmeal and spices, the soft sausage contains no blood.

Our Avoca Lodge hostess sliced the white pudding into thick disks and fried them until crisp on the outside. The flavour of white pudding is milder than black pudding, with a more pronounced oatmeal taste.

Eggs and meat are actually the second course of a full Irish breakfast. Ireland B&Bs usually begin breakfast with fruit juices, fresh and dried fruits, dried cereals, muesli, yogurt and a pot of hot tea or coffee.

Robeen House's Irish breakfast in Killarney, Co. Kerry
Robeen House's Irish breakfast in Killarney, Co. Kerry
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Killarney B&B

At Robeen House, a Killarney B&B, our breakfast began with self-serve cereal and fruit from a buffet. Bernice McMonagle, who runs Robeen House with her husband Ian, placed a basket of addictive Irish brown bread on our table.

No Irish breakfast is complete without a basket of this hearty brown Irish bread, thinly sliced and liberally spread with rich Kerry Gold butter. At Robeen House, we could top it with Hartley's strawberry, blackberry or apricot jam. Bernice offered us samples of local wild Beara honey, which was an exquisite complement to the Irish bread.

Besides brown bread, Carmel Walsh, at Avoca Lodge, served homemade Irish soda bread. The slightly sweet bread was leavened with baking soda, rather than yeast. Saturated with raisins, it was mouth-watering.

Brown bread and Irish butter
Brown bread and Irish butter
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Irish smoked salmon

Like most hosts of Ireland B&Bs, Bernice McMonagle and Carmel Walsh were happy to cook alternatives to full Irish breakfasts. One morning, one of our tour companions requested porridge.

Carmel served her cooked steel-cut Irish oatmeal (also called pinhead oatmeal), hot and steaming, with honey and a small pitcher of thick double cream. Our friend cleaned up her bowl, calling the porridge "yummy."

Another day, Carmel made us delicious scrambled eggs with Irish smoked salmon. All of these stick-to-your-ribs breakfasts fueled us with plenty of energy for a day hiking the Kerry Way.

Irish coffee

Don't make the mistake of asking for Irish coffee for breakfast in Ireland. Irish coffee is a mixture of hot coffee, Irish whiskey and sugar, topped with whipped cream. The best place to enjoy it is in a cozy pub, in front of a fireplace, while listening to live Irish music.

Tour participants receive an information package at the beginning of their walking tours. We were delighted to find recipes for Irish soda bread and Irish coffee among the items in the folder.


IRISH COFFEE (serves 1)

  • 1 jigger of Irish whiskey
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons sugar, preferably Demerara sugar
  • Freshly made hot coffee
  • 2-4 tablespoons chilled whipped cream

Heat but do not boil the Irish whiskey. A microwave works well for this (20 to 30 seconds on high power should do the trick). Pour the warmed whiskey into a warmed 7-ounce goblet or Irish coffee glass and add the sugar. Fill with the hot coffee to within about a half inch of the top of the cup. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Float the whipped cream on top of the hot coffee and serve immediately.


  • 6 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 pound raisins
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 cup of caraway seeds to taste
  • 1 quart of buttermilk

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix in caraway and raisins. Mix in the buttermilk. It helps to use your hands to mix this because the dough is sticky. DO NOT USE AN ELECTRIC MIXER or the bread comes out flat. Divide batter into two buttered cake pans. Flour a knife and cut a cross into the tops of the bread. Bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour. The top of the bread should not be allowed to get brown.


Robeen House: www.robeenhouse.ie

Tourism Ireland: www.discoverireland.com

More things to see and do in Ireland:

Bodhran Lesson - Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry Ireland

Gap of Dunloe Tours - Hike, Bike or Jaunting Car?

Sheepdog Trials and Training Border Collies - Kells Ireland

Puck Fair Festival - Killorglin Co. Kerry Ireland

Galway Oyster Festival Champion's West Ireland Tour