By Rosie Moore
Bring out the crock pot, chop up a head of cabbage, add a few potatoes and a can of corned beef and, voila! You’re ready to celebrate Ireland’s yearly cultural event. This recipe is easy to make, but there are a lot more complicated recipes. How did this dish become famous in Ireland and elsewhere? During the potato famine in Ireland that lasted from 1845-1552 one million people emigrated from Ireland which decimated their population by 25%. The famine was caused by a potato blight. Even though there weren’t any potatoes they had plenty of vegetables, especially cabbages. The Irish people who left Ireland during the famine years longed to return to the land of their ancestors. Many Irish ballads reflect the dream of this misplaced people to go back some day to the green fields of home.
“And if there’s going to be a life hereafter
And somehow I’m sure there’s going to be
I will ask my God to let me make my heaven
in that dear land across the Irish sea.” from Galway Bay, a traditional Irish song.
Along came Saint Patrick. Though he wasn’t born in Ireland, he is revered by the Irish because of his missionary efforts in that country. At the age of sixteen he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland, where he remained for ten years. He escaped from slavery and went to Gaul where he entered the monastery. After studying there for twelve years he returned to Ireland to convert his captors to Christianity.
There are many stories concerning the icons that represent Saint Patrick’s Day but none of them are authenticated to be entirely true. They probably became associated with this holiday by people celebrating with parades, green beer, and all the fanfare of a major holiday. One story that prevails is the analogy of the shamrock. Patrick struggled with the task of explaining the Trinity to the Irish. He used the shamrock as an example. Each leaf on the plant is of equal size and importance, as it is with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. This legend had enough influence that the shamrock became the national symbol of Ireland.
One of my great-grandfathers came from Berlin, Germany, and the other one came from Dublin, Ireland. I am proud of both of them but I am especially proud of my Irish heritage. Although I’m not a red-headed personality with a hot temper, sometimes I can actually feel like a typical Irish person who celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day. Enjoy everyone!
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. – Irish Proverb.
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