Irish Harp Music,
Irish Flag, & Shillelagh
Folklore, Food and Fun in Ireland
By: Tippy & Alfred
First of all, do you know there are more people in the
United States who were born of Irish descent than there are
in Ireland? And, St. Patrick's Day is more popular in the
United States than it is in Ireland as well. How many of the
facts below do you know?
The colors on the Irish flag are green for hope, white for
purity and orange for Protestants (William of Orange, the
Protestant son-in-law of King James II). But, for centuries
"the wearin' of the green" has been a symbol of hope,
fertility, springtime, and eternal life. Today green is the
color we think of when we think of the Irish and St.
Harp music has been played for years in churches and castles
in Ireland. An old Irish harp known as a "clarsach" was
small and made of wood. It was played by holding it between
the knees and plucking its brass strings. The harp appears
on the Royal Coat of Arms as well as Irish coins and on some
flags. The harp is one of the world's oldest musical
instruments and plays a large part in the long history of
A shillelagh is really a walking stick made from wood from
the Shillelagh Forest in County Wicklow. It was originally
made from a form of Oak. But the English unfortunately
defenestrated most of these forests and so today the
Shillelagh is made with the wood of blackthorn hedges.
The shillelagh is said to represent the brave spirit of the
Irish and their perseverance. It has also often been used as
a weapon, especially in fighting competitions which were
held at county fairs, with the combatants using one in each
hand (one to hit with and one with which to protect
Germans and Belgians both actually consume more beer per
capita than the Irish, but maybe the Irish celebrate more.
In any event, drinking is associated with the St. Patrick's
Day celebration because tradition says that St. Patrick
brought the art of distillery to Ireland. A home-brewed
whisky made from Irish white potatoes, "Poteen," is
reported to ward off ills relating to Ireland's harsh
Another traditional custom was known as "Drowning the
Shamrock." Families with servants put shamrocks in a bowl
and covered them with Irish whiskey, then gave the remainder
of the bottle to the servants. I don't know what they then
did with the shamrocks, but the servants had a good party.
Today, St. Patrick's Day is often celebrates by "pub
crawling," and many pubs will serve Green Beer as a part of
One of the most important things about celebrating St.
Patrick's Day is that you don't have to be Irish to do it.
The Irish seem to adopt everyone as family on March 17 and
for one day; the world seems to all become one big happy
The most popular food, besides beer, to be consumed on St.
Patrick's Day is "corned beef and cabbage." Other
traditional Irish foods that are popular here in the United
States are Irish Stew and Irish Soda Bread, and Mulligatawny
Soup. In Ireland, the preferred St. Patrick's Day dish is
Colcannon, which is made from mashed potatoes with minced
onions, shredded kale, and melted butter.
All About The Holidays