A Drop of Irish Cream

11 Mar 2015


“Come in, make yourself comfortable in the sitting room.” The blood rushed to my cheeks as I said thank you, and nervously sat down on a beautifully upholstered high-backed armchair facing an identical chair positioned in front of a tiny, ornate fireplace burning with hot coals. “Can I get you a drop of sherry or a drop of Baileys?” I quietly breathed a sigh of relief as I chose the Baileys, a very warm and welcomed icebreaker.

It was my first time at the farm. I’d already had the great privilege of meeting Richard’s mother, father, and briefly, his brother, but it was time to meet the matriarch of the family, Mary McDonnell (may she rest in peace), otherwise simply known as “Grandma.” Grandma lived in the little flat attached to the main farmhouse. But, where she slept was only a matter of semantics, she clearly still ruled the roost at Dunmoylan. And deservedly so, in her day she could milk 20 cows by hand in less than an hour before coming in to cook breakfast for her family of 7. Badass.


After I moved to the farm, my chat sessions with Grandma became more frequent. Over drops of Irish cream served in delicate cordial glasses, we swapped stories with one another; she was kind yet opinionated, and as curiously interested in me as I was in her. At a certain stage, Richard told me, “Well you passed the muster with Grandma,” which was no easy feat apparently. I felt welcomed and proud.

I loved listening to Grandma yarn astonishing tales of banshees, gun hiding and squabbles between political parties, which became very colourful because she cheekily favoured the opposite party of her husband and his family. She, like many Irish of a certain generation, believed in a bit of folklore, and recanted the time she found herself on a magic road in County Louth where her car actually rolled uphill in the Cooley Mountains, an anecdote for which I had no idea how to respond. (But look, Andrew McCarthy proves it’s true!)

Grandma had a certain savoir-faire and impeccable style, and, luckily for me, a generous sense of humour. I recall during one of our chinwags, her telling me about a weekend break she had taken to a beautiful, remote island on a lake in the northwestern part of Ireland. She described how breathtaking it was, and that you had to go barefoot and walk on rocks across the water to the Island and only drink a sort of broth with salt and pepper for three days. When I presumed she’d been to a natural spa retreat for some type of intensive 3-day cleansing detox, she thought I was absolutely mad because it was Lough Derg, a world-reknowned religious pilgrimage in Donegal. Again, something I could not fathom, but also could not help but respect.

With Mother’s Day this weekend here in Ireland, I’d like to propose a toast to ‘drops of Irish cream’ and a good old natter with the special ladies in your life. What are some of your favourite Grandmother memories?

Homemade Irish cream is second to none (sorry Bailey’s!) and super straightforward to make from scratch. Bring this tipple out at the end of a long lingering dinner party as a decadent way to end your feast, and the perfect invitation to share some more stories together….

Irish Cream
Makes 24 ounces
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. instant coffee powder
½ tsp. cocoa powder
¾ cup Irish whiskey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
Combine 1 tbsp. cream and the coffee and cocoa powders to make a smooth paste. 2. Slowly add remaining cream, whisking until smooth.
Add whiskey, vanilla extract, and sweetened condensed milk; stir to combine.
Pour into a 24-oz. jar and keep refrigerated until ready to serve, up to 2 weeks.
To serve, pour into a tumbler filled with ice.

Slan Abhaile,
Photo by Imen McDonnell 2014


My beloved late mother-in-law, Peggy, and Richard’s grandmother, Mary (RIP)

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28 Responses to “A Drop of Irish Cream”

  1. […] you want to try her recipe, it’s online here: A Drop of Irish Cream – Farmette  although I recommend purchasing the book if you like farm-style recipes with basic tasty […]

  2. This reminds me so much of my own grandmother, who can spin a good yarn. She is the hardest working, funniest lady I know. Thank you for reminding me of this with your story.

  3. helen says:

    I love your post,and thanks for your share

  4. Heather says:

    Irish cream is so expensive to buy, I was beside-myself excited to find this recipe. Made up a batch 2 weekends ago using Bushmills and it is already gone. You are right – it is better than buying it! Very rich flavor. I felt decadent. Thanks!

  5. Heidrun says:

    A very nice Post. I enjoyed it.
    Cheers, Heidrun

  6. Heidrun says:

    Again a lovely post. I enjoyed to see the captures ans read

  7. […] And for dessert, you may want to finish with an Oatmeal Pumpkin Bundt Cake. You could even add a little Irish whisky or Irish cream in the glaze. Bonus points for homemade Irish cream. […]

  8. […] Homemade Irish Cream :: Farmette – It’s easier than you think, and with St. Patrick’s day coming up…well is there any better excuse? […]

  9. […] from now on. It was one of the best dishes I’ve ever had. I also tried my hand at making homemade Irish cream. It was quite tasty. Even better the second and third day. Next time, I think I will make it at […]

  10. Molly Hardy says:

    Sounds fabulous! I must make some. Love all of your recipes and stories. Might see you at Xmas time. Love and Peace

  11. Laurel says:

    Mixed up this up for our St. Patrick’s Day celebration this evening! Looking forward to enjoying a glass of it! Thank you for sharing your recipe. 🙂

  12. Krista says:

    She sounds like an incredible woman. 🙂 I was just telling Bear about my Danish grandmother who would write English letters to my dad while he was away at boarding school. She never used any capitals or punctuation, just a flow of words. So one day he wrote and asked her to please include punctuation so he could read the letters easier. Her next letter to him was unchanged until the bottom where she had put row upon row of various punctuation marks with the note: “here you go put them where you want them” 🙂 She was feisty too. 🙂

  13. Shirley Tucker says:

    This looks so healthy. Yeah. Right. Ha ha. So, bring it on! Can’t wait. Moderation in everything, including moderation. Isn’t that what Julia Child said? Or something like that.
    I will be making this on St. Pat’s. Calories? What calories?
    Wonderful recipe. Thanks so much.

    • imen says:

      Super healthy, NOT! It’s high in calories, but you only need a “drop” right? Thanks Shirley xx

  14. […] Homemade Irish Cream :: Farmette – It’s easier than you think, and with St. Patrick’s day coming up…well is there any better excuse? […]

  15. […] wait to press ‘publish’ — I found the recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Farmette, and Imen just happens to blog from the Irish countryside, so you know this is authentic!  […]

  16. Jean D says:

    Lovely….. a tradition in our family is making homemade fruitcake in October to age in peach brandy until Christmas. Prior to lining the pans with brown paper soaked in oil and mixing the fruit to let rest in brandy and spices, we toast with a dry sherry (which also is ceremoniously poured over the fruit, lol!). Sharing stories of the women in the family and how they touched our lives. Thank you for sharing and the Baileys recipe!

    • imen says:

      Fruitcake aged in peach brandy sounds so delicious! I love this story Jean, thank you for commenting! x

  17. […] You’re only six ingredients away from homemade Irish cream. (Farmette.) […]

  18. […] You’re only six ingredients away from homemade Irish cream. (Farmette.) […]

  19. What a beautiful story. A beautiful picture and warm thoughts! I would love to see a photo of Grandma! I can just about picture her…. Thank you for sharing!

    • imen says:

      Hi Erin! Thank you, I am glad the story was heartwarming. I’ve added a pic of myself with my mother in law and Grandma at the bottom of the post =) xx

  20. […] And for dessert, you may want to finish with an Oatmeal Pumpkin Bundt Cake. You could even add a little Irish whisky or Irish cream in the glaze. Bonus points for homemade Irish cream. […]

  21. I’m an American and one of my Irish great- grandma’s name was Mary McDonnell! I absolutely loved every word of your post, and I will definitely be making this Irish Cream and having a drink to all my Irish great-grandparents memory ( May they rest in peace).

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