Fondly Remembers Deirdre Madden's All About Home Economics (and only takes the piss slightly)

all about home economics

If you did Home Ec for your Inter Cert (quiet down the back young wans, it was what you did at 15 before they invented the Junior Cert) then you'll remember this: Deirdre Madden's All About Home Economics was The Bible. It taught us all we knew about the various cuts of meat on a pig, how to hem a drindl skirt and the inner workings of the small intestine.

Perhaps inspired by the success of Gill and MacMillan's (publishers of Gorgeous to Go, fact fans) reissue of Soundings, the Leaving Cert English textbook of yore, Deirdre Madden's daughters have had the book republished in her memory. At €16.99, you can pay for it yourself this time - your mother will be delighted - and 10% of the profits will go to the Irish Cancer Society.

One came into my Daytime Place of Work and Toil so I had a fond reminisce at items on many subjects such as 'characteristics of a well made soup' before flicking to 'meat matters'. I then browsed 'all about puddings and sweets' before flicking to 'tips for successful stitching'. Oh - there's all that plus much more, because there's also a section devoted to personal hygiene.

home ec book spread

AHA! Personal hygiene! I knew, deep in the recesses of my addled brain that there was info of worthiness inside its re-issued, fruitcake-adorned covers.

home ec book


Rather intriguing advice too, such as this gem on how to take a bath:


Amazing stuff.

home ec book

However, for this piece of ahead-of-her-time wisdom, Deirdre, salutes you. YOU ARE SO RIGHT. Girls of Ireland, listen to the home economics book. Hark at its wise words. And pick up a good meringue recipe while you're at it. Sure by the end of it you'll be a shoe-in for the BIM Fish Cookery competition too.

A special shout-out must go to Mrs Crosby who had the unfortunate, er, opportunity to teach me Home Ec in secondary school. I was a cheeky wagon. Sorry Mrs Crosby. You were a very good teacher and taught me all I know about cuts of meat and sponge cakes. Thanks.


Deirdre Madden's All About Home Economics is available nationwide now or online from

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