This past weekend was exciting as two sets of my grandchildren and their spouses came in on Friday evening. We had a great time eating fried fish, shrimp and pickles along with a couple of other things. My grandson took over the frying for me and as always it was great having him in the kitchen! Saturday morning, we had breakfast and then all of us took off for my brother’s tank to go fishing. The calendar said that the fishing was good, but all we caught was very small cat fish! At least everyone caught at least one, so that made it a lot more fun!
I had been keeping my friend’s dog and after the grandchildren left, I took him home. When I got back to the house an hour later, my neighbor and her son had most of my yard mowed. The son finished it this morning after they got home from church and he had to break the news to me that he’s not going to have time to do yard work any more as between sports and finishing his Eagle Scout project and a job in the summer time, he just won’t have time. He has been doing my yard since he was old enough to ride a lawnmower and I am truly going to miss him, his wonderful work ethic and his smiling face! He and his parents are truly wonderful neighbors for this lady to have. Of course, he’ll still be around but it won’t be the same.
Saturday, March 17, is St. Patrick’s Day, a day when the Irish and the “wannabe” Irish celebrate and wear something green. In past times, the San Antonio River, running through down town San Antonio was dyed green, and if I remember correctly, there was usually some type of parade, perhaps on the river itself. In other parts of the United States, it is celebrated with a lot more pomp and circumstance than it is in our area.
Some of the information about Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day in this article came from the Internet several years ago and some of it is from one of our older papers. If it sounds familiar, please just bear with me!
When it comes to stories about St. Patrick, legend and truth are totally intertwined.
The young man who was later to become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland was born in Wales around AD 385. His given name was Maewyn, and due to lack of required scholarship, he almost didn’t get the job of Bishop of Ireland.
Until the age of 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that time, after a raid on his village, he was sold into slavery in Ireland. During his time of captivity, he learned the Irish language, which is Gaelic, and also moved closer to God.
After six years, he was able to escape from slavery and went to Gaul. There, he studied in the Monastery under St. Germain, Bishop of Auxerre, for a period of 12 years. While he was in training, he became aware that he was being called to convert the pagans to Christianity. He was ordained as a deacon, then as a priest and finally as a bishop. Pope Clestine then sent him to Ireland to preach the gospel. He became a great traveler, especially in the Celtic countries, as they are innumerable places in Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland named after him.
St. Patrick is most known the world over for having driven the snakes from Ireland. Different tales tell of his standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from the shores of Ireland. One legend says that one old serpent resisted, but the saint overcame it by cunning. He is said to have made a box and invited the reptile to enter. The snake insisted the box was too small, and the discussion became very heated. Finally, the snake entered the box to prove he was right, whereupon St. Patrick slammed the lid and cast the box into the sea.
While it is true that there are no snakes in Ireland, chances are that there never have been since the time the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the ice age. As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common, and possibly even worshipped and driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice.
The shamrock has long been associated with St. Patrick. He used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. It was used in his sermons to represent how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. At one time, the shamrock was called the “Seamroy,” and symbolizes the cross and the Trinity. Before the era of Christianity, it was a sacred plant of the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad.
The followers of Patrick adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on his feast day. The custom of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day came to America in 1737, when it was celebrated publicly in Boston for the first time.
While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it was Patrick who encountered the Druids at Tara, and abolished their pagan rights. He converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the Holy Wells, which still bear that name.
According to tradition, St. Patrick died in AD 493 and was buried in the same grave as St. Bridget and St. Columba at Donpatrick county. According to other information I have found, St. Patrick died on March 17, in AD 461 and that day has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since!
Another legend says St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey. There is evidence of an Irish pilgrimage to his tomb during the reign of the Saxon King Ine in AD 688, when a group of pilgrims headed by St. Indractus were murdered.
As I mentioned above, the Irish language is called Gaelic and when written, it looks nothing like what we are used to seeing!
Now, not only do they have their own language, they also use different names for things they might eat over here in America. Here are a few of the more common: Bangers – sausage; colcannon – boiled cabbage and potatoes; coddle – a stew made from pork, sausage, potatoes and onions; champ or poundies – mashed potatoes with green onions and a well of butter in the middle; praties – potatoes; biscuits – cookies; rasher – slice of bacon; crubeens – pigs feet (trotters) cooked with carrots, onions and spices or dipped in seasoned breadcrumbs and fried. And, believe it or not – corned beef and cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish! So, you ask, what is traditional food? One could start the day with a dish of porridge with a topping of cream or honey, followed by a full Irish breakfast fry, consisting of sausage, bacon, fried eggs, fried tomatoes, black pudding, white pudding toast and brown soda bread. In accompaniment, there would also be a large pot of fresh tea, marmalade and honey. Here are a few more items that are considered traditional Irish recipes (those that are at least fifty years old). Soda bread, oatcakes, gingerbread loaf, seed cake, basic scones, porter cake, Irish whiskey cake, Irish omelet, oatmeal bacon pancakes, sorrel soup, boiled bacon and cabbage, beef and stout casserole, potted chicken, baked tripe, chicken and leek pie, apple mash and Irish stew or lamb stew. Irish stew is traditionally made of lamb or mutton, potatoes, onions and parsley. Frequently, lamb or mutton neck bones, shanks and other trimmings were the basis for the stock and the root vegetables, turnips, parsnips or carrots add further flavor and thickening power, as wall as filling sustenance.
4 to 5 pounds short ribs
7 small red potatoes
2 medium onions
Salt and pepper
1 cup flour
3 cups water*
3 beef bouillon cubes
½ cup cooking oil
Dissolve bouillon cubes in water and place over medium heat, and heat until just under boiling and keep hot on low heat. Heat oil in large Dutch oven or roaster and lightly season meat with salt and pepper, dredge meat in flour and brown a few pieces at a time in hot oil and remove from pan as they brown and add more until all are all nicely browned. Fry onion in same pan with1/2 cup flour left from dredging meat, until lightly browned. Put all ribs back in pan and add the water in which you have dissolved the bouillon cubes or broth and cook for 1 to 1½ hours. While meat is cooking, peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Peel carrots and cut into ½-inch chunks (or use part of a one pound package of baby carrots and leave them whole). When meat has cooked the 1 to 1½ hours, or until tender, add the potatoes and carrots, and cook until they are done. *Beef broth can be used in place of the bouillon cubes and water.
Now, here is a recipe that is truly Irish.
Oatmeal Raisin Scones
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chilled butter (do not substitute)
1½ cups oatmeal (either old-fashioned or quick-cooking)
½ cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk
Cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Mix together dry ingredients (except oatmeal). Cut chilled butter into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oatmeal and raisins. Add buttermilk and mix with fork until dough forms a ball. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead 6 to 8 times. Pat dough into ½-inch thick rectangle and cut into 8 to 10 rounds, (similar to biscuits) or shape dough into large circle and cut into 8 to 10 wedges. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.