Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

To celebrate being one of the only countries in the world whose national holiday is celebrated, loved and adored by millions of people who don’t even live here and whose connection to us is tenuous at best, I thought I’d present to you five Irish things that I celebrate, love and adore.

1. Our Writers

A nation of storytellers… especially fantastically funny and talented lady ones! I’m currently reading The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes, the reigning Queen, and I’ve got Ella Griffin’s Postcards from the Heart coming up next. I’m on the e-mailing list for Oprah’s Book Club updates, and this week she was nice enough to feature 10 Irish Writers You Should Know (which includes Edna O’Brien) as well as Maeve Binchy’s Minding Frankie in her reads to look out for in March.

2. Tayto Crisps

Ah, to explain Tayto Crisps. Well, first of all – for you non-Irish-or-UK folk – by “crisps” I mean “potato chips”, but here in Ireland we could never say Tayto Crisps, because Taytos (or Taytoes?) is enough. Nothing else tastes like their cheese and onion flavor which they invented, thank you very much, in the 1950s. Recently they opened a theme park here. Yes, a theme park. The best way to eat Taytos is to take a bag of their cheese and onion, a bar of Cadbury’s Dairymilk chocolate (the real stuff, not the crap Hershey’s make and they brand as Cadbury’s in the US – yuck!) and eat them together, i.e. a square of chocolate followed by a few crisps. I can tell you this because I’ve done years of research in the area.

3. Dylan Moran

Before he was selling Black Books on Channel 4, he was a stand-up comedian here in Ireland and I was lucky enough to see him in Cork’s Opera House so long ago that I think I was in secondary school at the time. He’s everyone’s favorite chain smoking, seemingly constantly drunk laugh-inducer, and in this clip he explains the great mystery that is the “Irish Face.”

4. Barry’s Tea

Barry’s tea is not only made here in Ireland, but here in Cork. And not only here in Cork, but about five minutes down the road from where I live! Quite simply the best tea ever, we drink umpteen cups of it a day. Every day hundreds of envelopes leave Ireland via the postal service, stuffed full of Barry’s tea-bags and headed to Irish ex-pats all over the world. I’ve sent and received a few of them myself. You can actually buy actual Barry’s tea in the States, where it comes in a green box, presumably to push the Irish thing. (It comes in a red box here.) Pictured above is the actual box of it I found in a Goodings in Orlando.

5. Section 195 of the 1997 Taxes Consolidation Act

Otherwise known as the Artists Exemption. Once upon a time in Ireland, money earned from writing was tax-free. Then Irish writers started making a lot of money (think a famous blonde chick-lit author who sells millions of books all over the world) and the government decided to cap it, at €250,000 a year. Then things got bad, and it went down to €125,000. Then things got really bad, and it went down to €40,000. But the good news is that most of us scribes aren’t making that kind of money, so the Artists Exemption is still a good thing.

Well, it is something I celebrate, love and adore.

I also really liked this article by Reuters, 17 Bizarre but True Facts about Ireland – but is not having post codes really that bizarre? Really? And I think Guinness is a stout…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

6 thoughts on “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

  1. Marcus says:

    I spent St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin once by chance. Was definitely fun. What me and my companions liked best though were Bewley’s various cafes, especially their potato soup, which is a very Irish dish, isn’t it?

    One of my companions was an art history major doing research for her thesis on ancient symbols. So one surreal day, I find myself in front of an Irish farmhouse with her asking the owner where some ancient pre-Christian stone is located. He tells us to “follow the dog”!

    So there we are, walking in the middle of nowhere with this collie leading the way. I thought the farmer was having us on, but suddenly the narrow path between the trees opened up into a field. A bit farther on, down a slope, there it was sunk half in the ground, this truly ancient stone with symbols. I think it was dated around 600 B.C.? Lots of real history, you don’t need theme parks. I felt a bit like the famous five on a mystery hunt 🙂

    Also, lots of rainbows and “double-rainbows” (well, adjacent ones). Thanks to the climate, they were all over the place around this time of year.

    Marcus

  2. Ann says:

    People give me strange looks when I tell them the only black tea I drink is Barry’s gold blend. I purchase it on an Irish food site out of NJ. I also get the crips for special occasions. My kids, now adults fit over them still! And don’t even start me on Cadbury’s! But what I don’t understand is the “Irish” label on corned beef and cabbage. The first dinner we have when we get home is bacon and curly cabbage. Family favorite.

    Oh the trip down food nostalgia lane has made me homesick. Roll on June!!! And the bacon and cabbage dinner and Irish breakfast! Have a happy and holy St. Patrick’s Day!

  3. Catherine Rotte-Murray says:

    Love the taytos too when we were abroad they were the one thing visitors knew to bring and whether they got crushed in transit or not didn’t matter – we ate ’em by the spoonful if necc. Crisp sandwiches must be an Irish invention and yes, cadbury’s goes well with them – the only chocolate in my book, never mind all that healthy 70% dark choc – nice but you can’t eat a whole bar at a sitting as you can with cadbury’s! Confess I prefer Lyon’s red label to Barry’s but will prefer Barry’s to any other irish brand. Enjoyed your post!
    Catherine

  4. catherineryanhoward says:

    Hope you all had a great Paddy’s Day! I actually had a bag of Taytos and a Cadbury’s chocolate bar AND a Barry’s tea last night, quite by accident!

    (And Catherine – don’t even mention Lyon’s to me!) ;-D

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