As far as Celtic bonds go, the old Irish name for this loaf, Báirín Breac, means Speckled Bread, which is similar to the Welsh fruit loaf, Bara Brith, whose name also translates into English as the same. Another Irish variation on the Barmbrack is called a Tea Brack, which uses either baking powder or bicarbonate of soda to make it rise, instead of the yeast.
I remember getting Báirín Breac for supper at Goldenbridge industrial *school* every year. There was a dual purpose, though, for this annual treat, that had solely to do with feast-days in general in the institution. These important religious days on the religious calendar were the only celebratory events whereby children got proper food to eat at all. All Souls & All Saints Days, along with the rest of them were manna from heaven, heavenly days for GB child inmates. Bring them one, we thought, the more feast days the merrier for otherwise starving children.
Oíche Shamhna (Irish), Oidhche Shamhna (Scottish Gaelic) and Oie Houney (Manx), all meaning “Samhain night” to all who happen to read this on Hallowe’en.
The fire was nice and bright and on one of the side-tables were four very big barmbracks. These barmbracks seemed uncut; but if you went closer you would see that they had been cut into long thick even slices and were ready to be handed round at tea.
All credit for this old recipe goes to Barmbrack | RECIPEWISE The site is really worth while viewing, as it has a good write up and photos of the Báirín Breac, which is the name I remember only knowing it by when I was at Goldenbridge.
Photo: Marie-Thérèse O’Loughlin Donnybrook Moon, Dublin Sept 2012