Food for St. Patricks Day


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Who was St. Patrick and did he really drive the snakes out of Ireland?  Naomh Pádraig, later to take the Christian name of Patrick, was born in Roman occupied Briton, most likely Wales, of wealthy parents at the end of the fourth century.  He was captured at the age of sixteen by Irish raiders and spent the next six years in Ireland.  After six years he managed to escape and make his way back to Briton.  He claimed that during his imprisonment he had been visited by visions and thus

decided to become a Christian.  He went to a monastery in Gaul where he studied for fifteen years.  After his ordination he was sent back to Ireland.  


One of the myths surrounding his life is that he brought Christianity to Ireland.  Actually, there was already a thriving Christian community in Ireland before Patrick was sent there.  His prescribed duty was to administer to the existing community and to take “The Word” to as many non believers as possible.

 Traditiional Irish Recipes

Why do we wear green on St. Patrick’s day when blue was the color traditionally associated with him.  The shamrock, which grew rampant in Ireland, had been used as a symbol or

Ireland since the earliest times.  Around the 1750’s, Irish patriots took to wearing a shamrock to indicate their solidarity against the rule of England.  It was called, “The Wearing ‘o’ the Green.”  Immigrants of Irish ancestry in the United States also took to “The Wearing ‘o’ the Green.”  With the coming of Christianity the Shamrock was also said to represent the “Holy Trinity.”


In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has not always been celebrated in the manner in which it is celebrated in the U.S.  In Ireland it was celebrated like any other saints day.  You went to special church services and it was a time to spend with family.  Until relatively recently St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was more of a religious observance.  As late as the 1970’s, pubs in Ireland were closed on St. Patrick’s Day. 

Cottages in County Limerick - 1900

St. Patrick’s Day remained a mainly religious day in Ireland until 1995 when the Government decided to use the day to show-case Ireland for the purpose of tourism.  Today, St’ Patrick’s day celebrations throughout Ireland showcase Irish culture with parades, concerts, theater, art exhibits, dancing and firework.  And it does draw tourist, buy the thousands.

Now here’s one that will stand you on your ear.  Not only is Corned Beef and Cabbage not the national dish of Ireland, but you won’t find it on many tables in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day.  You will more likely find a Roasted Chicken or a Poached Salmon

So how did corned beef and cabbage become synonymous with Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day?  In the late 19th century, many Irish emigrants in New York and Boston became pub owners.  To stimulate business they often offered free lunches.  Back then corned beef was made from the cheapest cuts of meat.  Stretch it

out with cabbage and potatoes, also cheap and you could feed a lot of people for not very much money.  It had the added side effect of being salty, thus producing a great thrust and increasing the sales of beer.  Corned beef and cabbage is a good country dish in Ireland, but certainly not ubiquitous.


Here is a collection_of_recipes, all traditionally Irish, and all make excellent choices to serve on St. Patrick’s or any other day.  O.K., so I have included a recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage. 

stone symbolism intertwined with folk tails


File:Celtic cross Knock Ireland.jpg
St. Patrick placed the sun, an ancient pagan symbol on the Christian cross, thus creating the Celtic Cross.


The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not in Ireland but in New York 1767, when Irish soldiers in the English military marched through New York, playing Irish music.  Colonists of Irish ancestry hearing the music came out of their homes and cheered.
Irish harp as appeared on period recruiting posters


Did Patrick drive the snakes out of Ireland?  No. Ireland had no snakes because as an isolated land mass, surrounded by water, snakes did not establish themselves there.  One of the symbols of the ancient Celtic religion was the snake.  Driving the snakes out of Ireland was a symbolic term for Patrick’s having done much to eliminate paganism on the island.


stone symbolism intertwined with folk tails



For the filming of “The Quiet Man,” the town of Cong, County Mayo, became the village of Innisfree.



                                                                          The Danaher House                                                                   This is the building that was used as                                                         the Danaher house in the filming of                                                                     “The Quiet Man.”


              Pat Cohan's Bar

 This building never was a bar, but

a grocery shop.  The outside was turned

into a pub for the filming of “The Quiet Man.”

The present day owner is John Connolly.


Éireann go Brách

The English Country Kitchen

        Copyright © 2008 - Geraldine Duncann

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