ST. PATRICK'S DAY - A Story - Irish Bread - Some Green Beer...

Submitted by SadInAmerica on Sun, 03/16/2008 - 4:34pm.

Regardless of your heritage, you are probably very aware of St. Patrick's Day, the traditional Irish holiday celebrated yearly and worldwide (wherever there are Irish) on March 17th. There's more to St. Patrick's Day than the "wearing of the green."

In this article, you will learn about Saint Patrick -- the history and lore surrounding him and the day that honors his life and accomplishments. We will also talk about the legend of the shamrock and the Blarney Stone.

Who is Saint Patrick?

a three-leaf clover in green, white and orange -- the colors of the Irish flag.

Important historical figures are frequently shadowed by the myths and legends attributed to them over the course of centuries, and St. Patrick is no exception. He is believed to have been born in the late fourth century, and is often confused with Palladius, a bishop who was sent by Pope Celestine in 431 to be the first bishop to the Irish believers in Christ. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, St. Patrick was the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Most of what is known about him comes from his two works, the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians. Saint Patrick described himself as a "most humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshipped idols and unclean things had become the people of God."

Saint Patrick is most known for driving the snakes from Ireland. It is true there are no snakes in Ireland, but there probably never have been -- 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 often worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice. While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it is Patrick who is said to have encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites. The story holds that he converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the "Holy Wells" that still bear this name.

There are several accounts of St. Patrick's death. One says that St. Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on March 17, 460 A.D. His jawbone was preserved in a silver shrine and was often requested in times of childbirth, epileptic fits, and as a preservative against the "evil eye." Another account says that St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury, England and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey. Today, many Catholic places of worship all around the world are named after St. Patrick, including cathedrals in New York City, USA, Dublin, Ireland, and Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia.

Origins of St. Patrick's Day

Traditional Irish Blessings


  • Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter; Lullabies, dreams and love ever after. Poems and songs with pipes and drums; A thousand welcomes when anyone comes. 
  • May St. Patrick guard you wherever you go and guide you in whatever you do -- and may his loving protection be a blessing to you always.
  • May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields and, Until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
  • Saint Patrick's Day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck. Most importantly, to those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick's Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. The Irish are descendants of the ancient Celts, but the Vikings, Normans and English contributed to the ethnic nature of the people. Centuries of English rule largely eliminated the use of the ancient Gaelic, or Irish, language. Most Irish are either Catholics or Protestants (Anglicans, members of the Church of England).

    So, why is it celebrated on March 17th? One theory is that that is the day that St. Patrick died. Since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them their history and celebrations. The biggest observance of all is, of course, in Ireland. With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses close on March 17th. Being a religious holiday as well, many Irish attend mass, where March 17th is the traditional day for offering prayers for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrating begins.

    In American cities with a large Irish population, St. Patrick's Day is a very big deal. Big cities and small towns alike celebrate with parades, "wearing of the green," music and songs, Irish food and drink, and activities for kids such as crafts, coloring and games. Some communities even go so far as to dye rivers or streams green!

    The Shamrock and the Blarney Stone

    According to Encyclopedia Britannica, a shamrock is "any of several similar-appearing trifoliate plants (plants whose leaves are divided into three leaflets). Common shamrocks include the wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) of the family Oxalidaceae, or any of various plants of the pea family (Fabaceae), including white clover (Trifolium repens) and suckling clover Trifolium dubium." According to Irish legend, St. Patrick chose the shamrock as a symbol of the church's Holy Trinity because of its three leaflets bound by a common stalk. Wood sorrel is shipped in large quantities from Ireland to other countries for St. Patrick's Day.

    The Legend of the Blarney Stone

      There is a stone there,
      That whoever kisses,
      Oh, he never misses
      To grow eloquent.
      'Tis he may clamber
      To a lady's chamber,
      Or become a member
      Of Parliament.

    Just northwest of the Irish village of Cork is the village of Blarney. The name Blarney is derived from the Irish An blarna, "the plain." Blarney is home to the 90-foot-tall (27.4-meter) Blarney Castle. The castle visited today is the third one built at the site and was erected in 1446.

    Built on a rock, above several caves, the tower originally had three stories. On the top story, just below the battlements on the parapet, is the world famous Blarney Stone. While its origins are unknown, the Blarney Stone is said to give the gift of eloquence (beautiful speaking ability) to all who kiss it. Today, "Blarney" means "the ability to influence and coax with fair words and soft speech without offending."

    Kissing the stone is quite a physical feat. You have to sit with your back to the stone, and a local guide or friend sits on your legs or firmly holds your feet. Then you lean back and down into the darkness between the castle's 18-foot-thick (5.5-meter) walls and, grasping the iron rails, lower yourself until your head is even with the stone.

    One local legend claims that an old woman, saved from drowning by a king of Munster, rewarded him with a spell that if he would kiss a stone on the castle's top, he would gain a speech that would win all to him. It is not known, however, when and how the word Blarney entered the English language and the dictionary.

    Famous Irish Americans

    Along with other immigrants, the Irish have been coming to America for centuries. Rich and poor, Protestant and Roman Catholic, fortune seekers and refugees, they have all sought a new beginning here and many of them have gone on to strengthen the structure of our country, including:

    • John and Ethel Barrymore: Distinguished stage and screen performers 
    • Charles Carroll: Named Maryland's attorney general in 1688; grandson signed the Declaration of Independence
    • Henry Ford: Established Ford Motor Company
    • Judy Garland: Entertainer and singer, Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz"
    • Patrick J. Hurley: Secretary of War under President Hoover
    • John F. Kennedy: First Irish-American Catholic to be elected U.S. President
    • Archibald Mellon: Patriarch of Mellon family, prominent in industry, finance, education and art patronage
    • Augustus Saint Gaudens: 19th-century sculptor

    For more on famous Irish Americans, visit the American Irish Historical Society or The Irish Voice newspaper.

    Now that you know all about Saint Patrick, the day named in his honor, and the legends associated with the celebration, go out and enjoy St. Patrick's Day -- and don't forget to wear your green!


    Making Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Loaf pan
  • Foil

    Step 1:
    Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the loaf pan, making sure to coat all sides evenly. If your loaf pan is old, dust the inside with a little flour to make it easier to pull the loaf out of the pan later.

    Step 2:
    Mix the flour,
    baking powder, sugar, salt, baking soda, egg and buttermilk together. Be sure to mix the ingredients until they are smooth. Add the butter and raisins and mix the batter again.

    Step 3:
    Pour the dough into the pan and bake for 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    Step 4:
    Cool the Irish soda bread on a wire rack as soon as you're able to remove it from the pan. The bread is dense, so put it on a sturdy rack.

    Step 5:
    Wrap the bread in foil after the bread is completely cool. The bread will get its best taste 4 to 8 hours after it has been baked. Serve covered in corned beef or as something with which to soak up green beer.

    Tips & Warnings

    • Make your Irish soda bread the day before or hours before you plan to serve it. The bread tastes best if it sits around for a while.
    • If you want a slightly different, more authentic soda bread, use European butter and substitute caraway seeds for raisins.
    • If you forget to buy buttermilk, substitute it with 2 cups of milk and 2 tbsp. of cider vinegar. This will make the bread more dessert-like, but will save the rest of your batter if you're unable to go to the store.
    • Don't add extra liquid to this bread. This recipe makes slightly fluffier Irish soda bread. If you add more liquid, you won't be able to toast the bread in a vertical toaster without the bread falling apart.
    • Don't substitute green beer for buttermilk! While it may seem like a good idea in the spirit of St. Patrick's Day, the taste and texture of the bread will be ruined.


    Participating in a St. Patrick's Day Beer Crawl

    A St. Patrick's Day pub crawl is only for those with strong stomachs and a sense of adventure. Planning out a beer crawl before you go will help everyone stay safe and let those who participate have a good time.

    Step 1:
    Make up a crawl list. If you know who is coming with you, it will be easier to choose pubs that can hold everyone. It's best to keep your group under 10 people.

    Step 2:
    Map out local pubs. If you can, try to find pubs that are close to your home so you can walk home afterward. No matter what, don't plan on driving to each pub. It will take a while to find a place to park, and will mean that one of you can't partake in the drinking festivities. If you must take a car, hire a cab.

    Step 3:
    Figure out when you're going to leave. A pub crawl shouldn't be endless. If you let the group decide to leave after they've stopped having fun, the crawl could last all night. Try staying until a bad song comes on the jukebox, until everyone has had a pint or at a previously agreed-upon hour.

    Step 4:
    Stop for snacks. If you're drinking a lot of beer, it is wise to get something to eat at regular intervals so you don't become sick. If you don't want to order pub food, try picking up a slice of pizza on the way.

    Step 5:
    Decide what to do after the pub crawl. If everyone is able to get home safely, allow them to depart. However, you might all enjoy a night of board games and merriment at someone's home. Make this decision before you go so that everyone can focus on enjoying their night rather than worrying about where they will end up at the end of it.

    Making Your Own GREEN Beer!

    Green beer is a St. Patrick's day tradition in many homes, restaurants, and pubs. You don't need to be a chemist to mix this celebratory drink. All you need is beer and food coloring. Simply add food coloring to your favorite beer, mix it up and enjoy.

    The beer
    Choose a lighter beer, one that will take the color easily. If your favorite beer is of the darker variety, it will take more coloring.

    The color
    It was suggested by a commenter on
    Slashfood, where we were reminded of this cool St. Patrick's day tradition, that blue food coloring works best; by mixing it with the yellow beer, you should achieve a true green color. I tried both blue and green food coloring. Take a look through the gallery and decide which one you think worked best.

    For the purists among us who don't want to tamper with good beer, enjoy a Guinness. If you're in the St. Patrick's day spirit, but aren't really a beer drinker, follow me through the break and I'll share some other green cocktails along with a few non-alcoholic ones.

    If you're not into green beer, but want to sip on a festive drink this St.Patrick's day, check out some of these other recipes:
    • Emerald Isle
      Make a minty green martini with creme de menthe instead of vermouth.
    • Green Mist
      This fruity cocktail mixes banana liquor, creme de menthe, brandy, and ginger ale.

    • Green Goblin
      Served with a lime wedge, this sweet and sour drink will spread the St.Pattie's day spirit.

    • Zen Master
      This original and refreshing cocktail is made of green tea liquor and cucumber.

    • Green Apple martini
      Vodka and green apple schnapps. My personal favorite.

    Now, for those of you who are not drinking this St. Patrick's day, but still want to join in on the festivities, here are a few non-alcoholic recipes:

    • Green Grape Glacier
      White grape juice, sparkling water and fresh green grapes. Serve this one ice cold.

    • Mattoni Secret
      This recipe uses some more unusual ingredients, but it is sure to keep your friends guessing and asking for more.

    • The Director
      Coconut and lime come together to make this a fresh, sweet creation.

    Share some of your favorite St.Patrick's day drinks.  I'll leave you with this little  

    St. Patrick's day toast:

    Here's to a long life and a merry one.
    A quick death and an easy one
    A pretty girl and an honest one
    A cold beer - and another one!


    I hope you found this post to be enlightening and fun.  It was fun for me and a chance to take a break from all of the daily BS.  I'll make a toast and drink a green beer to ya!  Have a good one and be safe cuz I want to see you right back here the morning after!  Ya hear?  ~  SadInAmerica

    Tag this page!
    Submitted by SadInAmerica on Sun, 03/16/2008 - 4:34pm.