Time for the “wearing of the green”

This past week was as busy as I thought it would be… when you start the week with Mass, breakfast, an out of town meeting, followed by a meeting later in the day that is in town, you’ve already had a busy day. Monday and Tuesday were pretty much the same, by Wednesday I was ready for the trip to Victoria my sister and I had planned. It was time for the 95k check-up on my car. Of course, that was the day it decided to rain, and it came down in torrents almost the whole trip, letting up just a few miles before we got to the city limits. We waited for the car to be finished, and then since both of us wanted to go to the new Tuesday Morning store that has moved back to Victoria, (no longer in the Mall), and the Dollar Tree, that is where we headed. Saw lots of neat stuff in both stores, managed to find exactly what I was looking for in Dollar Tree and then we went and had a wonderful Oriental lunch at a restaurant that was in the same strip center! You can hardly beat that. We had neither one eaten there recently and it was a pleasure to just order what we wanted off the menu, rather than eat from a buffet. Thursday was fairly quiet, and on Friday it was back to work. In the morning, I was in the gift shop as the usual lady wasn’t able to be there and since we started selling tickets for our Annual Spring/Mother’s Day drawing, I took the afternoon shift there. We did really well and by being in the entry-way of the hospital, we had lots of customers.
“St. Patrick’s Day, no more we’ll keep, his color can’t be seen, they’ve passed a bloody law ‘agin, (against) the wearing of the green”. Thus went the words of a song we sang when I was in grade school. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned that the word ‘bloody’ was a curse word, and not used in polite company! The 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, a day the Irish and the “wanna be” Irish celebrate. “Erin go Bragh”, shillelagh, shamrocks, green ribbons, scones, and Irish stew will be the order of the day. Over the years in reading different books and articles, I’ve come across the Irish cop (usually in Chicago, sometimes in New York) telling someone to straighten out,
“Before I lay me shillelagh up alongside your head”. In the past, the San Antonio River was dyed green; but, since I don’t live in that area anymore and no longer have access to the San Antonio paper, I am unsure if they still do it.. 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 following information about Ireland and St. Patrick’s was gleaned from the Internet several years ago, and some of it is from our older papers. Hope it doesn’t sound too familiar.
When it comes to stories about St. Patrick, legend and truth are totally intertwined. The young man who was to later become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales around AD 385. His given name was Maewyn, and until the age of 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that time, after a raid on his village, he and other young men were sold into slavery in Ireland. During his time of captivity, he learned the Irish language 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 Celestine then sent him to Ireland to preach the gospel. He became a great traveler, especially in the Celtic countries, as they are numerous 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. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice.
The legend of the shamrock is also connected with the banishment of snakes from Ireland by a tradition that snakes are never seen on trefoil and that it is a remedy against the stings of snakes and scorpions. 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. However, other information I have found, states that St. Patrick died on March 17, in AD 461 and that day has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since. Yet 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.
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 and 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.
The Irish have their own language, Gaelic. One (of several) of the assistant pastors at our church in San Antonio spoke and wrote the language fluently. 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 that we have 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, which 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. The root vegetables, turnips, parsnips or carrots add further flavor and thickening power, as well as filling sustenance.
Irish Stew
4 to 5 pounds short ribs
7 small red potatoes
6 carrots
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 until just under boiling. Keep hot on low heat. Season meat with salt and pepper, dredge in flour and brown a few at a time in oil. Place in a large Dutch oven or roaster and set aside as you add more meat to the skillet. Fry onions in same pan with ½ cup of the flour left over from dredging the meat, until lightly browned. Add to ribs. Add water in which you have dissolved bouillon cubes, cover and cook about 1 to 1½ hours. While meat is cooking, peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Peel carrots and cut into ½-inch chunks (or use baby carrots and leave them whole), when meat has cooked the 1 to 1½ hours, add the vegetables and cook an additional hour, or until the vegetables are tender.
Now, here is a recipe, which is truly Irish
Oatmeal Raisin Scones
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teapsoon 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, but not instant)
½ cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk
Cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 375ºF Mix together, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 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 minutes. Pat dough into ½-inch thickness. Cut into 8 to 10 rounds or shape into large circle and cut into 8 to 10 wedges. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.