The 1851 dietary challenge.

Five Deaf women are raising money to commemorate the lives of a group of teachers and servants who lie in an untended grave in Glasnevin… and in the most ‘gruel’-ling way you can imagine… Eating, for one week, the same Spartan and unappetising meals that their boarding-school counterparts did, 150 years ago!



St Mary’s School for Deaf Girls, Cabra, was established in 1846. After completing their education, some of its pupils, had no choice but to stay on at the school; some were orphans, or abandoned by their families, or had no other option but to stay on as staff members. When they died, the school buried them in common graves.

One group of 47 women who lived and worked in St Mary’s between 1931 and 1972 – teachers of the Deaf, servants, and pupils – are buried together in Glasnevin, Their plot is marked by a large cross, but without their names, and the plot is in a dilapidated condition, in stark contrast to the other common graves surrounding it.

Alvean Jones, one of the group of five fundraisers working with St Mary’s Deaf Heritage Group, says: “We wanted to restore the plot, with the erection of two headstones, one on either side of the central cross, and the names of each woman recorded, along with date of death. The existing cross will be cleaned and restored back to its former condition.

The grave had all been forgotten about by the ex-pupils of St Mary’s School. “We decided that these women would no longer be forgotten about, and the graves abandoned. So we are fundraising – by honouring the hard lives the pupils in the school lived.

We are following the original 1851 dietary schedule for the girls at the school. So between 22 and 28 May 2016, 5 of us will adhere to this dietary schedule – to the letter.”

The group are already two days into their challenge and are vlogging their progress to Ireland’s Deaf community, who are following their every gulp and grimace as they savour stirabout, binge on broth and wash everything down with plenty of milk. No processed food is allowed. The group have set up an online fundraising page at where already many donations are flooding in.

The group are hoping that as many people as possible follow their progress and contribute generously to the fund to enable the Deaf community to pay respect to the pioneering women educators who were grateful to receive this diet all those years ago.

Mysticvean’s up for the challenge.





Breakfast 8am-8:30am Bread and milk.


Luncheon 11am-11:30am Bread13217514_10153823196078992_3759104010710669382_o


Dinner: 2:30pm to 3pm Bread and broth13247834_10153823935803992_1656430690209093838_o


Supper 6:30-7pm Bread and Milk.

I had no choice but to switch to goat’s milk due to an adverse reaction to the dairy milk the day before.13235325_10153824240453992_6895778420887239995_o


Tuesday… it was my day to make a video diary… so I used a combination of photos and videos.



Stirabout and milk.

I soaked the oats overnight in water and had the porridge in the morning.

Stirabout is just the old fashioned word for porridge prepared in this way.




Luncheon 11am-11:30am Bread.13239486_10153825600618992_134324792311664526_n


Dinner 2:30pm-3pm Bread, meat and vegetable.

I started with the meal, and nearly forgot all about the bread. Yikes! Good job I remembered in time. 13227200_10153826225268992_2953213028070277098_n


Supper 6:30pm-7pm Bread and milk. (eaten at work)13260091_10153826285058992_8062457460943215362_n


Then I made a video diary summarising the whole day.


3 days done, 4 more to go.