A pot of freshly made colcannon
Place of origin Ireland
Main ingredients Mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage
Cookbook: Colcannon  Media: Colcannon

Colcannon (Irish: cál ceannann, meaning "white-headed cabbage") is a traditional Irish vegetarian dish of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage.


Colcannon is traditionally made from mashed potatoes and kale (or cabbage), with milk (or cream), butter, salt and pepper added. It can contain other ingredients such as scallions (spring onions), leeks, onions and chives. There are many regional variations of this dish.[1] It is often eaten with boiled ham or Irish bacon. At one time it was a cheap, year-round staple food,[2] though nowadays it is usually eaten in autumn/winter, when kale comes into season.[3]

An Irish Halloween tradition is to serve colcannon with a ring and a thimble hidden in the dish. Prizes of small coins such as threepenny or sixpenny bits were also concealed inside the dish.[4]


The origin of the word is unclear. The first syllable 'col' is likely derived from the Irish 'cál' meaning cabbage. The second syllable may derive from 'ceann-fhionn' meaning a white head (i.e. 'a white head of cabbage') - this use is also found in the Irish name for a coot, a white headed bird known as 'cearc cheannan', or 'white-head hen'. The phrase may also be borrowed from the Welsh name for a leek soup known as cawl cennin, literally "broth (of) leeks."[5]


The song "Colcannon", also called "The Skillet Pot", is a traditional Irish song that has been recorded by numerous artists, including Mary Black.[4][6] It begins:

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

The chorus:

Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I'm to cry.
Oh, wasn't it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

See also


  1. Recipe from An Bord Bia (Irish food board)
  2. Irwin, Florence (1986). The Cookin' Woman: Irish Country Recipes. Blackstaff. ISBN 0-85640-373-3.
  3. Molyneux Kale
  4. 1 2 Allen, Darina (2012). Irish Traditional Cooking. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. p. 152. ISBN 9780717154364.
  5. Evans, H. Meurig (1980). Y Geiriadur Mawr. Gwasg Gomer.
  6. "The Black Family" CD, 1986, Dara Records, DARA CD 023
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