From Irish books to a Pegan-friendly riff on corned beef and cabbage, we have it all
St. Patrick’s Day has long been a cherished celebration in the United States, though America’s version is a far cry from Ireland’s traditional religious observance of its patron saint. While most parades were canceled this past weekend, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate both Irish culture and American traditions. We picked out a few of our favorites, from Irish books and their movie adaptations to a Pegan-friendly riff on corned beef and cabbage from the amazing food blogger, Amanda Haas.
What to read
#1 ‘The Barrytown Trilogy’ by Roddy Doyle
Set in a fictional neighborhood of Dublin, Roddy Doyle’s series chronicles with hilarity and tenderness the very real triumphs and trials of the working class Rabbitte family. The first book, The Commitments, follows young Jimmy Rabbitte and his unemployed friends as they form a soul band. In The Snapper, Doyle documents Sharon Rabbitte’s unplanned pregnancy and her family’s and neighborhood’s reactions. Finally, in The Van, patriarch Jimmy Sr. buys a fish and chips van with a friend after each gets laid off from his job. While it might take a few pages to get the hang of the Irish slang used in the majority of each book, the reward is well worth it. All three parts of the series were made into movies as well for the film-lovers among us!
Watch all three on Amazon Prime Video.
#2 ‘In the Woods’ by Tana French
Tana French, an Irish-American Dublin resident, weaves a richly detailed and enthralling story linking past and present crimes in this debut novel. In the Woods is the first of French’s six Dublin Murder Squad crime novels, giving you plenty more to dive into if you find this one gripping. That’s all we’ll say… No spoilers!
#3 ‘Dubliners’ by James Joyce
While James Joyce’s Ulysses is famously long and has gained a pretentious reputation, this collection of short stories is much more approachable. The vignettes provide glimpses into the lives of each character and leave you with plenty to reflect on. Though it was first published in 1914, Dubliners doesn’t feel out of place today: Its characters are timeless.
#4 ‘Brooklyn’ by Colm Toibin
Colm Toibin beautifully captures the anxieties, uncertainties, and mistakes of young adulthood in the story of Eilis Lacey, who leaves her small hometown in Ireland to start a new life in Brooklyn. The book is just as enjoyable as the Oscar-nominated 2015 film adaptation, starring Saoirse Ronan. While some might classify it as a romance, Brooklyn is, more than anything else, a story about growing up.
#5 ‘P.S. I Love You’ by Cecelia Ahern
In P.S. I Love You, Cecelia Ahern tells a heartwarming story of love’s strength to endure. In the months after her husband and soulmate’s death, Holly discovers letters he left for her that help her rediscover how to live. Ahern’s well-developed characters and the sweet plot line make for an engaging read you’ll come back to again and again. While the film adaptation starring Hilary Swank doesn’t follow the book exactly, it’s equally beloved and includes beautiful footage of the Irish countryside as an added bonus.
What to Watch
#1 The Quiet Man
A favorite St. Paddy’s Day tradition for KCM’s Ciara and her family, this John Ford movie stars Maureen O’Hara as a feisty Irishwoman and John Wayne as a former boxer returning to the Irish village where he was born. The movie documents the culture clash between 1920s Ireland and America through their rocky courtship, dealing with both serious issues and hilarious misunderstandings. The infectiously catchy soundtrack and Technicolor shots of the Irish countryside are the whipped cream and cherry on top of an already great movie.
In less than an hour and a half, Irish director John Carney expertly weaves an album’s worth of songs into an achingly beautiful love story that will leave you caught between a whole host of emotions. Guy and Girl, two struggling musicians in Dublin, join up for one magical week to record music that will hopefully send Guy to the big leagues. This movie is a testament to the connective power of music, with much of what is communicated coming from music rather than dialogue.
#3 The Luck of the Irish
This Disney Channel Original Movie may not win any awards for great filmmaking, but it has enough laughs and early-2000s nostalgia to make it worth a watch. Star high school basketball player Kyle lives a charmed life until his lucky medal gets stolen at an Irish festival, wreaking havoc on him and his family. Kyle discovers that not only is his mother Irish, she’s a leprechaun, which makes him half leprechaun. Hilarious antics ensue as Kyle fights to get his luck back. Of course, no Disney Channel Original Movie would be complete without a sports game at its climax and The Luck of the Irish does not disappoint.
#4 Sing Street
In this semi-autobiographical John Carney movie set in 1980s Dublin, high school student Conor starts a new wave band to impress Raphina, an aspiring model. Sing Street is a fresh take on the classic story of teenage rebellion, complete with David Bowie-esque eye makeup and an amateur music video. Conor and his friends are lovably earnest, and the characters’ struggles lend some realism to the whimsical plot. A catchy soundtrack and well-developed characters round out this lighthearted pick.
What to Eat and Drink
#1 Amanda Haas’ Pegan-friendly Brisket and Vegetables
#2 Green River Float
Green River, a shockingly bright, lime-flavored soda is a Chicago classic. Though it originated in Davenport, Iowa, it was produced by the Schoenhofen Edelweiss Brewing Company in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood during Prohibition. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a festive, delicious treat. What better way to celebrate Chicago’s surprise decision to dye its river green last Saturday?
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Written by KCM’s Ciara Hopkinson.