St. Patrick’s Day celebrates luck, laughter of Irish

Over 60

What is it about that curious little country across the Atlantic that encourages so many of us to want to become Irish for a day?

We know about their quaint attitudes, their love of the brew, the freckled beauty of their women, their accent (which seems to change from one part of the country to another). We’ve seen Hollywood examples of “typical” Irish from Una O’Connor to Barry Fitzgerald. And we’re all familiar with tales about St. Patrick driving snakes from the country. (It’s true; there aren’t any there.)

But first, some dry statistics: The Irish are a Celtic nation who inhabited their island for about 12, 500 years. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland (as an independent state) and the smaller Northern Ireland with British connections.

Specifically, the Irish have their own unique customs, language, music, dance, sports, cuisine and mythology — and among them are plenty of notable people, like Robert Boyle (the father of chemistry) and Robert Mallet (one of the fathers of seismology). Explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton is a famous explorer of Antarctica. Then there are famous writers like Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, W.B. Yeats,George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce and so many more.

It’s been said that the first European child born in North America had Irish decent on both sides! Oh, and plenty of our presidents have had some Irish ancestry.

The Irish, most of them staunch Catholics, are noted for large famiies; that small country has about 6 1/2 million people, and it is estimated that 50 to 80 million people around the world have Irish forebears.

After some political issues and the ill-famed potato famine, the Irish immigrated in large masses to the United States and are believed to be of a higher percentage of the population than in any other country — outside of Ireland, that is.

OK, so much for background. Perhaps a few narrative samples from the Auld Sod might help explain what makes them so fascinating to us:

“Hills as green as emeralds cover the countryside,

Lakes as blue as sapphires are Ireland’s special pride.

And rivers that shine like silver to make the country so fair.

But the friendliness of her people is the richest treasure there.”

The town of Limerick has given us chuckles over the years:

“There was a young lady one fall

Who wore a newspaper dress to a ball.

The dress caught fire and burned her entire —

Front page, sporting section and all.”

The Irish have unique ways of looking at life, like Pete Monaghan’s wife, who came into the newsroom to pay for her husband’s obituary. When she learned it would cost a dollar a word, she bemoaned she had only two dollars, so she wrote: “Pete died.” The newsman kindly told her he’d let her have three more words at no extra cost. She thanked him and wrote: “Pete died. Boat for sale.”

An Irishman’s philosophy: “In life, there are only two things to worry about; either you are well or you are sick. If you are well, there is nothing to worry about, but if you are sick, you have two things to worry about; either you will live or you will die. If you die, there is nothing to worry about — you’ll go to heaven or to hell. If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about, but if you go to the other place you’ll be so busy shaking hands with your friends, you won’t have time to worry.”

Paddy was driving down a busy street in Dublin — in a sweat because he had an important meeting and couldn’t find a parking place. Looking up to heaven he said, “Lord take pity on me. If you find me a parking place I will go to Mass every Sunday for the rest of me life, and give up me AA Irish whiskey.” Miraculously, a parking place appeared. Paddy looked up again and said, “Never mind, I found one.”

And if it’s a tasty Irish dish you’d like for a setting at your Irish meal, consider this one:

CABBAGE SOUP

1 container of condensed beef broth

2 1/2 c. water

1 c. tomato sauce

2 t. lemon juice

3c. shredded cabbage

2c.diced apples

1/3c. onion flakes

1T. caraway seeds

1t. sugar

1/4t. garlic powder

1/8t. ground pepper

In a large saucepan combine broth, water, tomato sauce and lemon juice. Bring to a boil.

Add in the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Serve with sliced rye bread. Makes six to eight servings.

Enjoy!