Sunday, June 9, 2013

Broken Irish Chain Quilt Block

This is the second block of my Irish Great-Grandpa Sampler Quilt.  I found the pattern for this Broken Irish Chain quilt block free on-line at Quilter's Cache here. This pattern is for a 10" block, and I wanted a 12" one, so I used Block Base to print out rotary cutting instructions for a 12" Broken Irish Chain block.  I had fun looking through my stash to find the perfect greens for this block.  A friend from my Persian Pickle quilting group gave me the paisley fabric (also known as Persian pickle).          

While my maternal grandmother was still in high school, she interviewed her father, James Lynch, at the urging of her older brother Will, who was living in China at the time.  (Read his letter to her here.)  Later, she wrote a biography of her father from the notes she'd taken during the interview.  Following is the second part of this biography:  

"His parents died during the potato famine* caused by a potato blight, and the family split up.  James was only twelve years old when he and his two brothers and three sisters decided to go to America, where they had heard there was great opportunity and better prospects to make a living.  His older sister Katherine, her husband John Deeves, and their daughter Carrie left also and went to Australia.  There was one letter from them sent to Ireland and re-sent to the family in America, but there was no address so they lost track of each other."
             - written by Hazel Lynch Skonberg, James Lynch's daughter

*The Great Famine occurred in Ireland between 1845 and 1852.  It was a time of mass starvation, disease, and emigration.  During this period, known to those outside of Ireland as the Irish Potato Famine,  approximately 1 million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland - a loss of 20-25% of the population.      
A wonderful Irish reader offered this helpful information: "Clonmel is a lovely town, and in Irish (Gaeigle) means the Honey Fields - in other words, the best of land; that was the hardship of the Famine - even those with the best of land died because their one and only crop and main source of food failed. These websites, if you would like to read more, are good ones to help explain an event that happened over 170 years ago and that still resonates today; when you consider Ireland lost 4 million people or half its population during and in the following 20 years, then the full horror of what happened in the 1840s becomes apparent."

Grandma Hazel’s Cheesy Potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup water*
1 chicken bouillon cube (or 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon)*
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups sour cream
2 pound bag of frozen hash brown potatoes

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Melt butter in a 3-quart saucepan on top of stove.  Stir in flour with a wire whisk until smooth. 
3.  Add water, bouillon, onion, salt, and pepper.  Stirring constantly with a wire whisk, cook until thick and bubbly.     
4.  Remove from stove and add cheese and sour cream.  Stir until well mixed. 
5.  Pour mixture over potatoes and combine well.
6.  Place in a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. 
7.  Bake one hour.
*May use 1 cup chicken broth instead of the water and chicken bouillon.

Are you interested in reading more about my Irish Great Grandpa Sampler Quilt?  You'll find it all right here.   

You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post here.


  1. Another wonderful block for this quilt.

  2. A fifth to a quarter of the population of Ireland lost! I had forgotten that. Sad times back then, wasn't it?

    As always, your piecing is perfection to the thread.

  3. The block is very nice! Thank you for sharing the story with us.

  4. This block is perfect showing Ireland breaking apart and losing so many of its people.

  5. If I may add--when I was doing research on part of the family going to Australia, I found that Kathryn had died in Parametta, an insand asylumn following her depression following the birth of a baby. So sad.

  6. The potato culture was both a blessing and a curse and there is a lesson there for future generations. I have some of the story on my father's side of the family but my mother's relatives must have arrived on one of the first boats (and maybe some were waiting on the shore as well)
    I plan to hit my sister up to share the diaries.

  7. Your recipe looks similar to one my MIL makes. Yum!

  8. I feel like I'm taking the most interesting history class I've ever had! Thank you for putting all of this together for many to share!


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