The biggest surprise about the legendary luck of the Irish is that the term is decidedly American. It derived from the sheer number of successful gold and silver miners in the American west of the 19th C of Irish ancestry. Those fellows might have originated in the Emerald Isle, they might have dreamed of shamrocks, green thumbs might have run in their families, but given their chosen paths a couple of gold or silver thumbs would have come in very handy indeed. And clearly did.
Speaking of fortunate thumbs, Irish legend has it that a certain Finn MacCool, giant warrior and hunter extraordinaire, decided to obtain a superior education by eating the famed Salmon of Knowledge. While MacCool was cooking this remarkable fish, he burned his thumb. He immediately brought the thumb to his mouth to stuck it and found that by doing so, he could take in a burst of the fish’s limitless knowledge. He was able then to use this ready to hand means for assistance whenever needed. MacCool was as clever a trickster as the Irish ever produced. They still love him and his wily, cunning ways.
As luck would have it, we’re approaching St. Patrick’s Day, honoring the national patron saint of the island. Some of us like to think of this formalized “wearing of the green” as a reminder that the promise of spring is around the equinoxal corner. It is interesting to note that while in Ireland the holiday is cause for a five-day celebration of food, events and parades, the biggest parades are in the U.S.. In fact, the first such parade in Ireland didn’t start until 1907 and was not a practice in Dublin until 1931. Don’t you think that Dublin should also adopted the Chicagoan practice and now turn the River Liffey green?
Everyone thinks of potatoes when the topic of Irish food is on the table. But potatoes are, of course, from the Americas and became a staple of Ireland in a dire time. Today’s Ireland has a wide and delicious pantry of foods to offer. Previously published here and available on the website are recipes for Colcannon and festive Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes. Today we’re offering a more traditional savory dish, Irish Lamb Stew. The Irish use bacon in their lamb stew which gives a lovely smoky tinge to a deeply satisfying dish. Along with a portion of their luck, “may your pockets be heavy and your heart light”.