Let’s Talk with Terry Odell

Saint Patrick’s Day in Northern Ireland

by Terry Odell

 

St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th, so I thought I’d share some “authentic” information about the holiday. My daughter lives in Northern Ireland, and this is what she has to say:

St. Patrick’s Day is truly a world-wide holiday, and here in Northern Ireland we celebrate with the best of ’em. Belfast puts on a big carnival-style parade, complete with floats and musicians. Most people have the day off work and schools are closed. The bars and pubs will be teeming with people, as you might expect. It’s a big day out for adults and children alike. And with any luck it won’t rain that much. But a little rain rarely dampens the spirits of the locals.

Yes, as you might expect, there is a bit of a political problem with the event. You will always have a small minority of people out there trying to prove some point by being disruptive. However, the police expect that and for the most part, the big celebrations go off without a hitch. I have a few friends who make a habit of trying to catch any “misbehavior” on film, as I know many amateur photographers.

Other than perhaps some pipes and drums, you aren’t likely to hear what most Americans would call “traditional” Irish music. No one will be singing “Danny Boy” or “Four Green Fields”, but it’s a good day out for most all the same. And you won’t find corned beef and cabbage on a menu anywhere. That’s a purely Irish-American invention. Irish stew, soda bread, wheaten bread, and colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage and ham) are more likely to be found.

My note: (If you want to try the “real” Irish dish, here’s Alton Brown’s (my fave chef!) recipe for colcannon.)

And please don’t look for green beer. Don’t pinch someone if they’re not wearing green. Just grab a pint of Guinness, Smithwicks, or Harp and a wee dram of whiskey and relax.

And, for the record, it’s “St. Pat’s” or “St. Paddy’s”. Never call it “St. Patty’s Day”. Patty is short for Patricia, while Paddy is short for Patrick!

Despite my name, I’m not Irish. Have you ‘adopted’ any holidays that aren’t really part of your heritage? Have you learned about other cultures and holidays from your reading? Share in the comments, please.

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Comments

  1. I don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but I do like Valentine’s Day and believe this is named after a saint. This holiday has become so mainstream that the origins don’t matter, at least not to me.

  2. I enjoy holidays, though I did a lot more socializing on certain holidays a few years back. Now we’re mostly content to watch others hang out in crowds for whatever event is up that day .I’ve always liked St. Paddy’s day and generally enjoy wearing green on this day, and I have to say that today I am wearing green. Not a problem to find green pants in my closet as green is one of my favorite colors! I’m interested in the colcannon recipe. Thanks for sharing, Terry!

    • I was going to try that recipe this year, but decided to try corned beef in my new Instant Pot, even knowing the dish isn’t “real” Irish. We still like it! And leftovers make great Reuben sandwiches.

  3. tinawhittle says

    We enjoy making latkes on Hanukkah even though we’re not Jewish (though we enjoy the Jewish Food Festival even more, since the experts take the field then). We do have Irish ancestry, so I feel right at home with whiskey.