Although not everyone associates the culinary arts with the Irish, the truth is the country that once suffered the Great Famine is now a country of substantial–and very tasty–meals.
Breakfast in Ireland, for example, is an unhurried, bountiful event, featuring some sort of hot cereal, such as stirabout (hot oatmeal); fresh eggs; the best bacon you’ve ever tasted; and a variety of homemade breads.
If you enjoy a wee snack in the late morning, you’d love the Irish custom of a tea and pastry break.
The main meal of the day–dinner–is more often eaten in the early afternoon, and you can anticipate a veritable feast, with choices from among the following: salmon or other fish; roast pork or ham; lamb chops; roast beef; Irish stew. Naturally, you can expect to find any variety of potato you can imagine, and the Irish firmly believe that they hold the patent on the tastiest potato dishes in the world, including colcannon (potatoes with cabbage, cream, butter, and onions); potato cakes or patties; potato soup; potato pie; boxty bread (whole wheat flour, butter, potatoes–raw or mashed, sometimes both–and bacon grease.)
If you like puddings, Ireland is the place for you. Irish cooks are also wizards with fruit desserts of almost any flavor, and they have an especially grand way with fruit tarts.
Irish cooking isn’t known for its exotic flair, but more for its freshness, simplicity, and generous portions. And good company with which to enjoy it!
Oh, and if you should happen to be expecting corned beef and cabbage, better stay in America. That’s not an Irish dish at all, but more our Yankee idea of one!
I’ve noticed that many readers also tend to be movie-goers, so here’s a list you might want to check out. For those of you who enjoy the “oldies but goodies”, I’ve included many of those in the list. Most should be available on video.
*Note: This isn’t necessarily a recommendation of the movies mentioned, but simply a list for your information.
Some Irish Names and their English Equivalent:
Ailin — Allen or Alan
Seamus — James
Aisling — Esther
Sorcha — Sara
Eoin — John
Padraig — Patrick
Caitrin, Cait — Katherine, Kate
Liam — William
Aine — Anne
Siobhan — Joan
- Handel’s Messiah debuted in Dublin in 1742.
- Of all the United States, Maine is the closest in size to Ireland.
- Irish custom says to weep at a birth and sing at a wake.
- The word “galore” comes from the Irish words go leor which mean “enough”.
- Ireland has no moles.
- Keening is the ancient Irish custom of women wailing for a deceased family member or friend.
- The most common Irish surnames in America are Murphy and Kelly.
- The Claddagh ring symbolizes: Friendship (the hands); Fidelity (the heart); Reign or Loyalty (the crown).
- The color white in the Irish flag represents peace between the Protestant and Catholic religions. Green represents the Catholic tradition. Orange represents the Protestant tradition.
- The first Irish newspaper in the United States was the Shamrock (New York, 1810).
- Annie Moore, a 13-year-old Irish immigrant was the first person to pass through Ellis Island (January 1, 1892).
- A seanchai is a storyteller–originally, a storyteller in the oral tradition.
- The oldest official symbol of Ireland is the harp.
- St. Patrick is said to have used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity.
- The Irish wolfhound was once an extinct breed in Ireland.
- The Declaration of Independence was hand-written by the Irish-born Charles Thomson; first read to the public by Irish native, John Nixon; first printed by John Dunlap, born in Ireland; and signed by at least eight men who were either natives of Ireland or whose parents or grandparents were Irish-born.
- The banshee of Irish folklore is always female.
- Sir Walter Raleigh first introduced the potato in Ireland.
Famous Irish Americans
No doubt you’ll recognize most of the following names. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but merely a sampling of well-known Irish Americans. Numerous American Presidents claim Irish heritage, but in the interest of space, I haven’t listed each one here. They include James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan.
Renowned Civil War Photographer
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Singer, Stage & Screen Star
Singer, Dancer, Film Star
Maureen O'Hara (Fitzsimmons)
Pulitzer Prize Playwright
John & Lionel Barrymore
Stars of Stage & Screen
Pioneer, Settler, Died at the Alamo
Film Director, Oscar Winner
Actress, First Lady of American Theater
Movie Legend John Wayne
Oscar Winning Film Star
Designed & Supervised Construction of the White House, Which Was Modeled on Leinster House in Dublin. Also Oversaw Reconstruction After the Original was Burned by the British in 1814
Singer, Screen Star, Oscar Winner
Edward J. Flannagan (Father Flannigan)
Founder of Boys Town
Founder of the Ford Motor Co.
Edward R. Murrow
Novelist & Short Story Writer
Est. the First True American Dept. Store
George M. Cohan
Composer, Director, Performer, American Musical Comedy Star