As St. Patrick’s Day revelry recedes into memory and the spring equinox marks the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, March 20, 2012 at 1:14 a.m. EDT, let me share from islandireland.com, the Celtic blessing:
“Go n-eírí an bóthar leat. May the road rise with you.”
Whether you’re Irish or not, St. Patrick’s Day holds a special place in the calendar and has been celebrated around the world for centuries. It has been an official public holiday in Ireland since 1903 with its first parade in Dublin 1931 – which intrigues me as a Canadian knowing that the Montreal’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade was in 1824 predating its country of origin by many years!
A lot of lore surrounds St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and sorting out the fact from fiction is just part of the fun. Even the years he lived is a bit of a mystery, however, it is believed he was born 387 in Britain to parents of Scottish descent and died March 17, 461 A.D. It is said that while he spent time in prison he found Christianity and vowed then to convert the Irish to it. He left Ireland apparently walking some 200 miles to the coast to escape to Britain and this is possibly the germination of the myth of him leading the snakes out of Ireland. Apparently, he embarked on religious training for 15 years and when he was ordained as a priest, it is said he had a visitation from an angel instructing him to return to Ireland as a missionary.
Add to this intriguing mix, Celtic customs such as the rebirth of spring symbolized in the shamrock, belief in leprechauns stemming from fairy folklore, and rich tradition of storytelling, poetry, music and other merriment, who wouldn’t want to join in for the luck of the Irish!
In my family we always embraced this occasion to celebrate with great enthusiasm. After all, while Mom’s side is steeped in rich Scandinavian heritage of Norwegian and Swedish, Dad’s was Scottish with a peppering of Irish and perhaps a trace of British. Songs like “If You’re Irish Come Into the Parlour” and Bing Crosby’s “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” or “Galway Bay” were common tunes played in our household on any given day and not just St. Paddy’s!
Mark and I continue the tradition of seizing the opportunity to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. While a Germanic and French Canadian tradition influences his sensibilities, he has always pursued joy enthusiastically. St. Patrick’s has also held special significance for him in celebrating the birthday of Patrick Schmaltz, a pal from his elementary school days who remains a best friend to today.
On March 15, I had captured a rainbow and used it as the reference for my participation in the Penticton Project – an interactive idea to share a day in the life. It seemed fitting to search for a pot of gold on March 17, however, a spring snowstorm changed the landscape. I joked that a Leprechaun concealed the gold in snow and instead we discovered golden memories for our neighbour’s son Jordan as Dad Dave provided a joyful snowy sleigh ride.
I also enjoyed a walk later on St. Patrick’s Day with my dear friend and neighbour and talented author of Remarkable Yukon Women, Claire Festel. St. Patrick’s Day reminds me to think of Irish and all other blessings bestowed in my life. As I strolled home from our precious time together, I gave thanks to the universe that destiny has delivered me this creative and courageous companion.
RBuchanan photo: Neighbour Claire Festel and dog Yukon
2012 Food and Libations
Planning our St. Patrick’s Day menu is an opportunity to research some traditional fare and to satisfy some cravings such as the Chicken Pot Pie we opted for this year. Our dear friend Judi Frizzle Stowell, of thelastwonton.com, timely as always, had just passed along a dessert drink recipe of a Shamrock Blizzard from TastyKitchen. I followed the recipe using Jameson Irish Whiskey and a generic peppermint chocolate chip ice cream and added a sprig of Mojito Mint from Roots Organic Inc. of Surrey, BC to garnish it.
RBuchanan photo: Shamrock Blizzard from TastyKitchen
My main reference for the chicken pot pie was Chicken Pot Pie IX from www.allrecipes.com and Aida Mollenkamp’s Chicken Pot Pie found on www.chow.com and like Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Chicken Pot Pie on www.foodnetwork.com, I prepared my own stockpot chicken for the broth and chopped chicken. Instead of preparing my own pastry, I used some Tenderflake frozen prepared puff pastry shells for a different presentation and to facilitate more time in celebration rather in cooking.
RBuchanan photo: Chicken Pot Pie in Puff Pastry Shell
At the BCLB, we bought a lovely Irish Beer Discovery Pack that included two each of Guinness Draught, Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale, Harp Lager and Smithwick’s Premium Irish Ale. And we treated ourselves to Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, Aged 12 Years.
RBuchanan photo: Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
RBuchanan photo: Guinness
We enjoyed our festivities and look forward to new ones the changing season summons. Whether or not, you choose to grasp these times with the spirit that we do, may you hold close the golden moments.
A Celtic Toast
In closing, I wish you another Celtic blessing:
“May your day be touched
by a bit of Irish luck,
brightened by a song in your heart,
and warmed by the smiles
of the people you love.”