Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like a real Dubliner

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

While St. Patrick’s Day may be confused for a day of excessive drinking, green beer and general rowdiness in America, Ireland’s national day is celebrated a bit differently in the homeland.

Justin Dolan, vice-consul at the Irish consulate in Chicago, said in Ireland, the holiday honoring the country’s patron saint is a day for family, food and, for some, a church service. While some Irish may drink on St. Patrick’s Day, green beer is only for tourists.

“There’s partly a religious sense to it and it’s our national day as well,” Dolan said. “So some people might go to church or Mass, and some people might have an Irish fry for breakfast.”

An Irish fry could include bacon, sausages and eggs; it is not a light breakfast and not the sort of thing people eat every day.

“It might be the one day they allow it,” Dolan said.

Dolan said larger Irish cities have a noontime parade, but the rivers stay free of dye—as does the beer.

“We don’t dye our river,” Dolan said. “And green beer is something I’ve never seen in Ireland. It might be some of the bars that expect a lot of American visitors offer it. But you might drink a pint of Guinness. It’s not a day for heavy drinking but it does happen.”

While the color green is part of the holiday, Dolan said it’s not ever-present on the holiday, the way it is in the United States.

“In Ireland, yes, people will wear a bit of green but the most important thing is, they wear a sprig of shamrock, a live shamrock they pick from their garden and they wear it on their lapel,” he said.

At its heart, the holiday is about celebrating everyday Irish culture, including food and family.

“It’s got a family focus for sure,” Dolan said. “People in Ireland tend to eat things like bacon and cabbage; that’s the Irish sister of corned beef and cabbage.”

Other popular Irish dishes include kale and potatoes, soda bread and a fish pie, roast beef or an Irish stew.

“There’s no one food (for St. Patrick’s Day),” Dolan said. “It’s a day for eating the best of Irish ingredients. So you might have a beef and Guinness stew with a pint of Guinness. It’s a day for good Irish food.”

Dolan said many Irish bars in Chicago will have some sort of Irish food on the menu for St. Patrick’s Day but the culinary curious can also have a look at the Irish Food Board’s website at bordbia.ie for ideas and recipes.

Here is one recipe, courtesy Bord Bia:

Braised beef in Irish stout

Courtesy Bord Bia

To get our readers in the Irish spirit, here is an authentic St. Patrick’s Day staple. Sláinte!

Serves 4-6                   


  • 1kg shoulder beef, cut into thin slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive or rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks, 2 carrots, 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 250ml well reduced beef stock
  • 125ml stout
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 50g butter
  • 75g streaky bacon, diced
  • 100g wild mushrooms, if available, sliced
  • 50g small onions, peeled
  • 25g flour                           

To Cook

Heat the oil in a large pan, brown the meat well. Remove to a pot. Next sauté half an onion, leeks, carrots and celery. Add to the meat along with the garlic. Pour in the stock and stout, season. Simmer gently for approximately 1½ hours. Remove the meat from the pot. Strain the liquid. Discard the vegetables.

Place the meat back in a clean pot, plus the liquid. Sauté the bacon, mushrooms and remaining onion in 25g of butter. Add to the pot. Reheat the lot. Blend the flour with remaining butter. Stir it into the sauce, stirring well. Taste for seasoning.

Serving Suggestions

Serve in a deep dish with buttery mash.

Recipe courtesy of Bord Bia. For more information visit bordbia.ie

[Braised beef in Irish stout is a St. Patrick’s Day staple. Photo courtesy Bord Bia]

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