Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

By Robin Kaye

Did you know…

That St. Patrick wasn’t Irish?
He was actually born in Britain and was kidnapped and taken to Ireland and was a slave. He escaped after about ten years, became a priest, and returned to Ireland to convert the Pagans to Christianity.

That the Charitable Irish Society in Boston started the first St. Paddy’s Day parade in 1737?

That the first New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade was in 1762 and is the longest running parade in history? It was started when the Irish militia in Lower Manhattan marched a few blocks to a tavern. As it turns out, the Irish in New York had staying power and during the potato famine they realized they had power in their sheer numbers—in ten years a million Irish immigrants came to New York and made the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade the largest and longest parade in the world. Every year there are 160 to 180,000 people marching and 2.5 to 3 million spectators.

That Sir Walter Raleigh introduced the potato to Ireland in the 16th century and before that, the Irish thought the potato was poisonous?

That corned beef isn’t Irish? The Irish didn’t start eating corned beef until they came to New York and settled in the Lower East Side in Jewish neighborhoods. They were introduced to the cheapest cut of beef, brisket, and the cheapest vegetable, cabbage, and made corned beef and cabbage their special meal.

That St. Patrick used the Irish Shamrock to teach the Pagans about the Holy Trinity, and has since become the symbol of Irish Catholic Nationalism?

That the traditional color of St. Patrick is actually blue—green is a color that became the color of Ireland, the Emerald Isles, and has become ubiquitous on St. Patrick’s Day in the United States.

That I have one of the best recipes for Irish Soda Bread? And now, due to the luck of the Irish, so do you!

Irish Soda Bread


3 ½ cups flour
3-teaspoons baking powder
1-teaspoon baking soda
¾-teaspoon salt
¾-cup sugar
1 ¾-cups raisins
1 ¾-cups buttermilk
2-tablespoons butter melted
2 eggs beaten


Preheat oven to 350°.

Sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt and sugar together. Add raisins.

Combine beaten eggs, buttermilk, and shortening together. Add to dry ingredients and mix well with hands.

Pour into greased round cake pan or 8” cast iron skillet and bake at 350 ° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm, also great served toasted.

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!


  1. What a neat post, Robin! Loved the facts and the recipe. And a Happy St. Patrick's to you!

  2. Happy St. Patrick's Day, Carolyn! Enjoy the recipe--I'll be making it today.

  3. Well, Robin, sounds like it's time for a new tradition since so many others long thought of as Irish, aren't! Forget green beer. It's time for a margarita!!!

  4. Jeese, Robin, I'm impressed that a nice Italian girl like you knows all this stuff. :)

  5. Terry - I'm good with Margaritas but I prefer Scotch or Irish whiskey--never been one for green beer but I might try a green Snakebite...

    Have a Happy St. Paddy's Day!

    @ Hope - I'm half Italian, the other half is Irish, Welsh, English and German. And being a New Yorker, you know everyone is Irish one day a year at least...

  6. Loved your post, Robin and if I liked to cook and bake I'd try that recipe!

  7. I really didn't know any of this (actually I forgot today was St. Patrick's Day). Great post!

  8. So we should all be drinking blue beer? Cool. Thanks for the recipe.

  9. @ Amelia - The Irish soda bread is wonderful--I make it every year and every year I think "Why don't I make this more often..." Sigh. It's uber yummy!

    @ Shana - Thanks, I didn't know much about St. Paddy's day either except if has always been a day off of Lent (as per the Catholic Church, you can eat meat and drink on St. Patrick's day.) I was hanging out at my favorite Irish pub in New York last week (O'Lunney's on 45th between 6 & 7th) It's amazing what you pick up around a bunch of Irish bartenders!

    @ Joan - I believe so! There's even a particular blue called St. Patrick's Blue--who knew?

  10. An interesting post about St. Patrick's, Robin. Thanks.

  11. Robin,

    Thanks for sharing your recipe. :)

  12. What a wonderful post, Robin! All kinds of facts I didn't know...thank you!