Document Type



4.2 ANIMAL AND DAIRY SCIENCE, Sociology, Anthropology, Cultural and economic geography, Interdisciplinary, History, Food Culture, Gastronomy, Food Studies, *Irish Food Studies, Food History

Publication Details

Toner, N. (2023). 'Exploring The Fifth Quarter: An Enquiry Into Offal Eating In Contemporary Irish Food Culture, Its History, and Its Future' (Unpublished MA dissertation;TU Dublin, 2023)


Animal offal and organ meats seem to have all but disappeared from domestic cuisine in Ireland, despite the recent renaissance in the country’s food culture. This thesis has examined the extent and nature of the consumption of these comestibles in contemporary Irish food culture, and the perceived decline in offal’s popularity in Ireland in the past fifty years. It also sought to discover whether offal and organ meats might have a place in the future of our cuisine, and whether the consumption of more offal and organ meats in Ireland might contribute towards a more sustainable food production system, and fulfilment of Goals 12 and 13 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). It furthermore sought to unearth potential barriers to any revival in the consumption of these meats. Through a blended research approach using both quantitative and qualitative methods and the triangulation of results, the study employed an online survey complimented by semi-structured interviews with selected expert voices, followed by Reflexive Thematic Analysis of the data. The study has positivist leanings on the one hand but also relied on a relativist approach on the other, as it was necessary to interrogate the topic from a cultural standpoint as well as a practical one in order to form a better understanding of the problem. From that practical viewpoint, the study found that the consumption of offal meats has declined steeply over the past half-century, possibly as a result of economic prosperity and changes in taste, but also due to systemic changes in the production and distribution of meat in a more centralised and modernised food system. From a socio-cultural standpoint, it found that many of those who eat offal these days are likely to be affluent and food literate, and have high levels of cultural capital. It concluded that factors which influenced positive feelings in relation to offal were rooted in culinary knowledge and diversity in dietary background. On the other hand, it noted that negative feelings towards offal could be rooted in childhood experiences with food, ‘psycho-visceral’ auto-responses, and cultural associations with poverty. It discovered that the perceived disconnect between the general population and the origins of its food, and a resulting deficit in culinary skills and knowledge, might be potential barriers to a revival of these foodstuffs in the future. It is generally felt however, that increased consumption of offal and organ meats produced locally, may be understood as a way to help make the food production system in Ireland become more sustainable, by contributing to a substantial reduction in carbon emissions and fulfilment of the UNSDGs, even if awareness among the population of the goals leaves something to be desired.


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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.