I believe you are correct WRT the soda bread. Cast iron skillets are great for even heat displacement, that is probably the key to good soda bread.
When I can’t bring myself to pay the same amount or more for thinly sliced bacon and end up using thick sliced, I par cook the bacon in the cast iron skillet and leave a little of the bacon fat in the pan prior to placing the meatloaf in there.
Last time I cubed the bacon and par cooked it, then incorporated it into the meatloaf instead of putting it on the top. It is a real pain to cut through the thick sliced cooked bacon and the tender meatloaf underneath without destroying it.
I like the Bridgeford Bacon that you can buy at the CVS stores. It’s not too thin and not too thick. Cooks up very nicely too.