Monday, March 11, 2013

Putting a little Irish on it

As an Irish lass, this is a big week for me.  For reasons that I can't exactly explain, at some point in my teenage years, learning about my Irish heritage became important to me.  I attribute it to being raised in a cookie cutter suburb where just about everyone was a part of the same mainstream culture.  It wasn't enough for me, I wanted a connection to more.

My first best friend in the whole wide world was half Taiwanese, half Jewish.  Her home was filled with treasures, family tradition, authentic home cooked meals and more. I immersed myself in it.  I longed for the same connection with my family's past.

My family emigrated to the United States during the potato famine like many Irish families did at the time.  Some made the move, but not all.  We still have a family village outside Cork, and I dream someday of visiting there.  A cousin went after he finished college and ended up staying for months longer than expected, meeting so many members of the family.

True Story.
We've always had corned beef, cabbage and potatoes on St. Patrick's Day, but over the years I have become more famous for my soda bread.  For many years, I prepared an entire meal for the preschool on St. Patrick's Day, wanting to teach them that this celebration isn't just about wearing green, pinching people and leprechauns.

When I was pregnant with my oldest, we chose an old Gaelic name, Aidan, not realizing that name would become one of the most popular.  We chose it because of the heritage, not because of the trend.  I wanted to spell my oldest daughter's name Ashleigh, but we settled on the more common spelling for some reason.  In the event I ever have another daughter, I already know what her name will be.  It would, of course, start with an A.  It would, of course, be Irish.

One of my favorite traditions every year is to attend the St. Patrick's Day parade.  My girls have begged to dance ceili for a long time.  As much as I would love to enroll them, the schools are far from where we live, the classes are very expensive and the outfits cost a small fortune.  Maybe someday when they tire of soccer...

Right after we married, my husband went to the Irish shop in San Diego that has been run by the same woman for years.  He knew I wanted a claddaugh ring, but he wanted to make sure it was authentic and came from Ireland.  I've worn it every day since.

Not long after that, I went to get my tattoo.  A four leaf clover, for luck and for family.  I knew that I would never fall out of love with it, and almost fifteen years later, I haven't.  I'm proud of it, and have so many ideas of other traditional Irish symbols I would love to turn into body art.

There is the fun side of it too, the part where I play with it all.  A few years ago, the leprechaun started coming to visit us.  He's naughty.  He dyes the milk green, he turns the furniture upside down.  He sprinkles glitter on everything and hangs underwear from the ceiling.  The kids seem a little more determined to catch him with each year, though they haven't managed to yet.

He'll be here in a few days.  The parade is this weekend.  The feast will be prepared, the soda bread loaves made.  I'm sure the kids will talk me into some ridiculous rainbow treats for their classes, like usual.  The keg is full of a homebrewed stout, made with Irish hops, and the Jameson has been purchased.

Let's put some Irish on it.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Here are some of the links to recipes for things I have prepared in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.


  1. Nice. Brian's parents both grew up in Ireland, so they have adorable brogues. Actually a lot of his family does. He hates St. Patrick's Day though because of the whole "Leprechaun" thing. He sees it as a mockery.

    I cook full Irish breakfasts on Sunday mornings and everyone loves it.

    The only qualm: Why in the world would you spoil the Jamo with ginger? O:-)

    1. I have to admit the leprechaun thing bothered me too, until I had kids. Then it became a way to connect them to the holiday (and a way for me to mess with them, which is really what having kids is all about). I drink Jameson just about any way can get it. :)

  2. It must have been really awesome for you to firstly find out about your heritage and then just dive into it! I wanted to visit Ireland a few times already but my Englishman refuses to go with me. I am getting mad at him for being so rude but then he picks out the ace up his sleeve - he says: "You are Polish and I have never dragged you to Russia or Germany so you should understand my position". Well, not exactly, as it is not the same, but yeah, he is just being lazy and uses it as an excuse. I will go to the green country next year for sure!


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