Being in and out of Ireland over the past few months, I’ve really grown comfortable in this familiar but foreign land, due mostly in part to the warm folks that make up this ancient land of faith, passion, and pride. And on no other day of the year will you sense all that with an unmeasurable scale than on St. Patrick’s Day.
Within a 20 mile radius of where I am near Slane in Meath Co. Ireland, tomorrow on St. Paddy’s day there are at least 12 parades scheduled scattered about the small villages and towns….. that’s in 20 miles so just think of the amount of parading being done across this Emerald Isle! History tells of St. Patrick being brought to Ireland as a slave when only 16 and escaping a few years later only to return as a man of the cloth to bring christianity to the beautiful and troubled land in the early 5th century. It was atop the Hill of Slane where he lit his first Paschal fire on Easter eve not to defy but to invite the High King who was atop the Hill of Tara near by, to christianity. So to be in Slane tomorrow, on St. Patrick’s day is my obvious first pick!
When I began thinking about St. Patrick’s day a few weeks back I asked around to a few of my Irish friends what the day meant to them and what they remember about the day from their younger years. Here was one of my Irish friends, Peter Whelan’s thoughts and memories of this important day in Ireland:
theme that is relevant to that particular year.I know of a pub (mc Keevers) just at BeauPark a few miles from Slane, where they will have a float with a man dressed as the pope and the owner Avril McKeever will be giving the pope pints as they drive through the village. The man dressing as the Pope is our friend Brendan who sang that lovely song for you in the top shop. Arvil will be dressed as a nun. The parade is not as serious as it was years ago hence the pope thing will be acceptable even getting a smile from Father Joe Deegan. The local schools and football teams and girl guides and boy scouts etc will all participate…it’s always a good day of craic! The traditional dinner in Dublin is our famous Dublin Coddle (recipe below) served with soda bread and a glass of guinness. In the rest of the country it would be Bacon and cabbage with floury spuds and white sauce. Some people use carrots with cabbage and mashed potato to give you the colours of our irish Flag.green white and gold. Later that night we will watch the news on RTE television and they will have reporter in most large towns around the country showing snippets of each parade. We are very aware that America takes our national saints day very serious in fact some would say they probably put more into it than some areas in Ireland even. Proudly our Taoiseach (irish for our prime minister) always travels to the White house to present the American President with a Waterford crystal glass bowl of specially grown Shamrock.”
• 1 lb. sausages (pork)
• 1 lb. onions
• 1½ lb. potatoes
• Water, milk or stock to cover
1.Cut bacon into large pieces
2. Blanch sausages in boiling water
3. Peel and slice thinly, potatoes and onion
4. Place all ingredients in pan and cover with chosen liquid
5. Simmer for 1 hour
6. When sausages and bacon are cooked, remove and boil remaining ingredients until thickened slightly.
7. Place meat and sausages on serving dish and pour stew over.
8. Traditionally served with soda bread and glasses of stout.This was a favorite Saturday night dish in Dublin City and recipes vary from those which are simple combinations to those including diverse tastes of sausages and fresh herbs.
Here pilgrim, stop; rest on yonder monumental slab, beneath the shadow of that tall, ivy-matted tower, the belfry of the cathedral…it once was gorgeous with the shrines of fathers and illumed by many a flickering taper, though now the hemlock fills it’s isles & the purple foxglove waves it’s lonely banneret. The ground wine we stand is sacred (St. Patrick), hallowed by the dust of Kings (ancient High Kings of Ireland). Look abroad over the wide, undulating plains of Meath, or to the green hills of Louth where in the broad landscapes of Britian, found we a scene more fruitful and varied or one more full interesting, heart stirring associations? …….William Robert Wilde 1849