Lucky to Be Irish!



Two of my five children have red hair.  The question is always asked, “Are you Irish?”  I smile and reply, “Yes!”  My mother’s side of the family is Irish.  I was raised with the understanding that to be Irish was something to be proud of.  Her family is fiercely loyal and loving!  They are a force to be reckoned with.  They can drink beer and appreciate the good stuff!  They are witty and sarcastic, passionate and vivacious!  Even when my grandmother passed away, there was singing and clanking of glasses…a true Irish wake.

My husband and I had the opportunity to travel to Northern Ireland with our family a few of years ago.  I have to tell you, two days in that country, I felt at home.  My family and their personalities were to be found everywhere we went.  My kids fit right in.

shores of ireland

We stayed with a family who welcomed all of us and were happy to give us the inside scoop to the culture in Belfast.

belfast march

We walked the neighborhoods and visited the Shank Hill.

shankill road

murals belfast


Devon learned how to play the Bodhran.

devon and jon playing drum

We walked on both sides of the Peace Wall.


We visited the local places to eat (of course).

shop on shankill

belfast market

This week, I emailed our friend and asked if he would share a little about St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.  My first question, “Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland?”  (I just wondered how much Hallmark had played a part!)  Jon responded, “We do indeed celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s not traditionally as crazy and commercialized as it is in the States, but that’s changing.  Dublin has a huge parade now.   St. Patrick’s in Belfast, like everything else, is complicated.   It has tended to be a ‘Catholic’ holiday; Protestants usually complain that Catholics wearing Republic of Ireland football tops and waving Irish flags is not very ‘inclusive’.  Over the past ten years, Belfast city council has made moves to make St. Patrick’s day something for everybody.”

I asked Jon if there was traditional food served on St. Patty’s Day.  He said, “There isn’t a typical ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ food or dish, but in general, Irish everyday cuisine looks a bit like this:

Probably one of our most common and popular dishes is a ‘full breakfast’, which despite the name is available any time of day.  An Irish full breakfast will vary slightly depending where you are and what local culture is like, but will usually have bacon rashers, sausages, fried eggs, white pudding, black pudding, toast, sauteed sliced potato, and fried tomato.

Here in Northern Ireland, an Irish breakfast is called an ‘Ulster Fry’ or simply a ‘fry’ and consists of bacon, fried eggs, sausages (either pork or beef), fried soda farls (a form of soda bread; the farl is split in half cross ways to expose the inner bread and then fried with the exposed side down), potato bread and wheaten bread.  Sometimes, depending on where you are, it gets served with baked beans.  Top it off with a cuppa (tea, not coffee; a ‘cuppa’ is always tea; a ‘coffee’ is coffee).

Irish stew is popular everywhere and is made from lamb, beef or mutton (mutton used because it is fattier and more flavorful) potatoes, carrots, onions, and parsley.  Traditionally, stew is made from whatever is available on the day, so that’s not a hard fast recipe.  Many people add Guinness to it, which is fabulous!

meat packers

lamb leg

butcher belfast

Soda bread and wheaten bread are staples.

Another  popular bread is barmbrack, a slightly sweet high-rising bread with raisins in it (the name is from the Irish báirín breac, literally ‘speckled loaf’ because of the raisins).

Boxty, pancakes made from potatoes are also common.

Ham steaks called Gammon are another local dish.

Seafood is also a staple, but traditionally in many parts of Ireland, seafood was looked down upon as what you ate if there was nothing else or you were very poor.  But today it’s very popular and some of the best seafood in the world comes out of our waters.”

Giant's Causeway

Thank you Jon for sharing a wee bit of information with us!  Honestly, I learned a lot!  I have to admit, I’m a little bummed as I have already purchased the corn beef, cabbage and potatoes.  This has been the St. Patrick’s Day menu in my house for as long as I can remember…along with homemade Irish Soda Bread!

soda bread

So, friends, we raise our glass to you and leave you with this, “Here’s to me, and here’s to you.   And here’s to love and laughter.   I’ll be true as long as you.   And not one moment after.”  (Irish Toast)


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


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