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An Irishman’s Guide to St. Patrick’s Day

by Dan Fee

As one of the token Irish members of the Flagstaff Scottish Club (FSC), I have been asked to do a little blog about St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) so here goes.

“DID YOU KNOW”... (not that there will be a test)

  • Patrick was not actually Irish. He was actually born in Britain (although the exact location is debatable), captured by raiders at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave until he made his escape 6 years later only to return to bring Christianity to Ireland as a missionary.

  • March 17 marks the date of his death in 461.

  • The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in Boston in 1737. Ireland’s first was in 1903.

  • The original colour associated with St. Patrick’s Day is blue (it became green in the 19th century).

  • The legend of the Shamrock is that St. Patrick used it as a metaphor to describe the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) when introducing Christianity to Ireland.

  • The legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland may in fact be a myth since there are no snakes in Ireland (either he did an exemplary job or…..)

  • There are over 70 million people worldwide who claim Irish heritage.

  • There is a hard fast rule when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, never refer to it as St. PATTY’s Day! If you must shorten it, then it is St. Paddy’s Day (which is short for Pádraig - pronounced “paw + drig”, the Irish spelling of Patrick).

  • "Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit” means “Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you" and is pronounced: ”Law leh Paw-drig suna ghit.”

  • “Sláinte” is a toast to good health (pronounced “SLAHN-cha”)

Brown Soda Bread

One of the traditional (and easiest to make) foods in Ireland is Brown soda bread, marked with a distinctive cross in it before baking (apparently to let the fairies out). The recipe for this bread will be in the upcoming Flagstaff Scottish Club cookbook (to be released for sale later this year), but to tide you over in the mean time here is a version of the recipe:


220g/8oz plain flour

220g/8oz wholemeal flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder or bicarbonate of soda

1 pint/500 ml buttermilk


Preheat oven to 180C/350F

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a Well in the center and pour in the buttermilk, use your hands to draw the flour and milk together. Next, pour ingredients onto a floured surface and lightly form into a round (do not over knead). Cut a cross on the top, place onto a floured baking tray and put into the oven for 35-40 min.

When you take the bread out, turn it upside down and tap the bottom. If the bread sounds hollow it’s done. Let cool on a wire rack.

Goes great with stew or a slice of Irish cheddar (and a pint of Guinness of course).

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, May good luck pursue you each morning and night.

Irish Blessing

So this Wednesday, wear some green (or blue for those true traditionalists), bake some soda bread, pour a pint of the good stuff and “Là fhéile Pádraig sona duit!”

Dan Fee


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