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Dublin: 16°C Monday 18 October 2021

6 interesting facts from the unique history of Irish-Italian chippers

Chippers and Irish-Italians – they go together like salt and vinegar.

EVER WONDERED WHY the booming fish and chips market in Ireland has such a distinctly Italian flavour?

Well, we’re here to tell you.

(And it’s not just because Italians have the secret to make chips taste absolutely delicious, although we’re pretty sure that helps…)

1. Well, it all started way back when…

aaa Bolton Street, 1959 Source: Romayos

There are over 100 strong Italian names in the chipper game these days, with the boom of Irish-Italian chippers happening in the 1950s. But the original wave of Italian emigrants to these shores actually began far earlier than that – we’ve had Irish-Italian culinary masters in Ireland since 1880, it turns out. By 1909, there were 20 fish and chip shops in Dublin alone – and that was serving up chips to a population of just 290,000.

2. And, funnily enough, from the same place…

Val Di Comino Source: minipixel

Almost all of the chipper families come from the same district of six villages in the Casalattico and Val Di Comino municipalities in the province of Frosinone in the Lazio region in the South of Italy, about 110km away from Rome. Up to 8,000 Irish-Italians have ancestors from Casalattico and nearby Picinisco. So now you know where to book your next holiday, eh?

3. Talking the talk

Italian flag Source: Stefano Chiarelli

According to one popular explanation, the well-known Dublin slang for fish and chips “one and one” actually comes from Italian – it morphed into our vernacular from the question “Uno di questa, uno di quella?” meaning “one of this, one of the other”. So now you know.

4. #SquadGoals

Fish 'n' Chips What it's all about Source: sk8geek

According to the Irish Traditional Italian Chippers Association, the number of Irish-Italian chippers all over the country has grown to over 200 – and that’s in a country with only 849 cities and towns, accordin to the 2011 Census, so they’ve fairly much taken us over.

5. All work and no play…

bboc Playing bocce at the Tribradden clubhouse in 1987 Source: Club Italiano Irlanda

But it’s not all business when it comes to the vibrant Irish-Italian community. There’s also a social club, Club Italiano, which was set up in 1970 and has become a focal point for socialising for three generations of the community. The Club Italiano clubhouse sits on 13 acres of land in Rathfarnham and organises activities such as balls, BBQs, concerts, exhibitions and lots of fundraisers.

6. Chips on film

Want to learn more? Well, luckily you can. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unique phenomenon of fish and chip dynasties here in Ireland, all the way from Lazio. If you’re hungry for more (pun intended, sorry), check out this fascinating documentary from Nick Tropiano:

Source: Mark Moloney/YouTube

Romayo’s is family owned and operated, and has been since 1959. We’ve just been voted Ireland’s best chipper for the second time in three years – and we pride ourselves on our modern take on the traditional fish and chips menu, including our taste test award-winning Big Beef burger.

Order online for free deliveries within just 30 minutes on romayos.ie and enjoy 10% off with the voucher code Journal10. Buon appetito!

About the author:

Fiona Hyde

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