Friday, March 17, 2017

Authentic Irish

From USA Today:
"How to celebrate St. Patrick's Day the authentic way"

Early Irish-American immigrants couldn't foresee the St. Patrick's Day celebrations of today: Hoards of drunken people elbowing their way to the bar for another green Bud Light. After all, 19th Century immigrants celebrated St. Patrick's Day — always March 17 on the Feast of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland — as a way to honor their heritage while embracing their new homeland. It often came with parades, food and a little bit of partying. It wasn't until later on that St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in Ireland. There it's a national holiday with schools and government buildings closed. Eamonn McGrath, a native Irishman and executive director of the Irish Cultural Center of New England, equates the day to the Fourth of July, where people spend time with family, attend a special Catholic mass, drink, eat and go to a parade. McGrath claims St. Patrick's Day is "more raucously and widely" celebrated outside of Ireland than inside, a phenomenon he said makes sense. All people with Irish heritage, he said, long for home." "You have to really leave it to know what you've left," he said. "It makes sense that it's more poignant and more expressive." Plus, he adds, Ireland is "a nice country to be associated with." Sure, many would concede their annual bar crawl doesn't fit traditional Irish norms, but there is a way to have your fun, fill your belly and celebrate St. Patrick's Day the authentic way. "Pub culture was never about getting drunk," said Professor Christopher Dowd of the University of New Haven, "It was about socializing, usually around music or storytelling." That means any St. Patrick's Day revelry should be kept social and celebratory. Here are other ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day the right way.
Eat Irish
It's peasant food, but a perfect meat and potato base for your celebration. Shepherd's Pie is made with beef and vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes. There's colcannon, mashed potatoes mixed with a type of green, often cabbage. Irish soda bread is a simple, dense, not-too-sweet bread that goes well with corned beef and cabbage.  That dish, it turns out, may be more American than Irish. McGrath said Irish immigrants ate bacon and cabbage in the homeland. But they couldn't afford bacon in America, so they opted for the cheaper corned beef. Don't forget about Irish boxty, a potato pancake, and Dublin coddle, a mixture of potatoes, onions and sausage topped with bacon.
Drink Irish
The Irish are known for their Guinness, but there's plenty of other beer options such as Harp, Murphy's, Smithwick's and Beamish & Crawford. If it's in the cards, Irish whiskey is always popular. Try Jameson, Bushmills and Tullamore D.E.W. For those early starters, Bailey's Irish Creme goes well in coffee. The raucous nature of today's St. Patrick's Day celebrations, McGrath explained, doesn't rattle the Irish. "I think people want to feel Irish for the day and feel part of the Irish diaspora," he said, but added, "it kind of feeds that old stereotype that the Irish are drunks. That's probably not a good thing."
Jam Irish
Upbeat traditional Irish music is crucial, McGrath said, to a proper St. Patrick's Day. Some Irish classics to consider: "Skibbereen," "Finnegan's Wake," and "The Fields of Athenry." Crank up the Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners and The Wolf Tones. When the fiddle and banjos wear off, there's always other Irish artists Van Morrison, The Pogues, U2 and The Cranberries.
Watch an Irish movie classic 
Dowd suggests people pay homage by watching a movie rooted or set in the Emerald Isle, such as The Quiet Man, which according to IMDB, features John Wayne as a boxer who returns home to Ireland, where he falls in love. Dowd, who teaches Irish literature, also recommends The Commitments, about a Dublin soul band, and The Wind that Shakes the Barley, a story of two brothers during the Irish War of Independence
Read like the Irish
Dig up some Irish poetry or gothic literature. There's always James Joyce, the author of great Irish novels such as Dubliners and Finnegans Wake. There's also Bram Stoker, who brought us Dracula.
Watch Gaelic hurling and football
The two sports unique to Ireland, Gaelic hurling and Gaelic football, host championship games on St. Patrick's Day. If you can, watch as the Irish do.
Remember Irish contributions to society
The Irish helped build canals, railroads, cities and infrastructure despite being disenfranchised and subject to prejudice. Ideally, Dowd said, this is how most people would celebrate the day. "Reflect on what the incredible contributions this immigrant group made to the country," he said. "Look at how an immigrant group benefited the United States in pretty profound ways."

^ Many people will claim to be even a little Irish today, but I really am (proven by DNA and my family tree.) I have also been to Northern Ireland as well as the Republic of Ireland. I have seen/heard almost every movie and song about Ireland. I've also studied Irish history (from pre-English invasion to the different Uprisings to division to The Troubles to present-day.) I don't need one day to "feel Irish," but it's nice that many people with no drop of Irish blood in them want to pretend - even if only for a day. ^

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