How to spend the day Irish style

St. Patrick’s Day! The day we all have a little Irish in us. I was going to add that if we’re lucky we have a big Irish in us, but that seems crude. Plus my mother reads this blog. So I won’t say it.

Liam Neeson.  (sorry.  couldn’t help myself)

How far we take our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations kind of revolves around our age, gender, and whether or not we have the energy to throw up a leprechaun at the end of it all.

But there’s more to the Irish than the stereotypes of drinking Guinness and wearing Irish lace.

There’s drinking Irish coffee and wearing fisherman knit sweaters.

I haven’t celebrated St. Patrick’s Day since I went to my friend Brigid’s house in Grade 4 and was bamboozled by the green spaghetti her mother served. I was suspicious of it and assumed it was some sort of Irish witchcraft. Looking back on it, it was probably just spinach pasta.

This year I’m going to give St. Patrick’s Day another go.

If you’re interested in doing the same, I’ve come up with an easy to follow “How to Spend the day Irish Style” guide for you.

An hour by hour schedule of all things Irish you can do.



Wake up: Down an Irish Coffee.  This coffee mixed with Irish Whiskey  is a great way to work up the nerve you’ll need for your next step.

8:00 a.m.  Call in sick:  Tell your boss you’ve got a “brutal bad dose and you’re gonna have to bunk off”.

9:00 a.m. Laze around:  You now have the better part of the day to make traditional Irish soda bread.    You can sit around all quiet-like in the kitchen making soda bread but the smarter thing to do would be to blast some music.   Music makes everything better.  The top three Irish choices I’d go with are Van Morrison, The Pogues and Stiff Little Fingers.  Irish classics if ever I heard one.

11:00 a.m.  Call a few friends:  Ever talk to your friends and suddenly realize you’ve told them everything there is to tell them?  That’s when a good joke comes in handy.  Here you go …

An Irishman was flustered not being able to find a parking space in a large mall’s parking lot.
“Lord,”he prayed,”I can’t stand this.If you open a space up for me,I swear I’ll give up drinking me whiskey, and I promise to go to church every Sunday.”
Suddenly, the clouds parted and the sun shone on an empty parking spot. Without hesitation, the man said,”Never mind,I found one.”

12:00 p.m.  Eat  lunch:    Have a slice of toasted soda bread with chocolate milk.  Chocolate milk of course, was invented by Irishman Sir Hans Sloane in the 1680.  The Irish just got more awe inspiring.

1:00 p.m.  Nap time:  Your belly’s full, you’re kindda sleepy, you called in sick.   Might as well take a nap.  Dream of submarines, tanks, and guided missiles.  All invented by the Irish.  Which is why the only people who mess with the Irish are other Irish.

2:00 p.m.  Read:  You’ve napped so you can probably now read a book without falling asleep 1 paragraph into it.  Ireland has produced literary giants like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and C.S. Lewis, all producing classic novels.    Maeve Binchy who died in 2012 didn’t write literature.  She wrote good old fashioned books and she did so with a story telling skill that seems to be bred into the Irish.   And if you haven’t read Angela’s Ashes by Irish/American Frank McCourt do so now.  Like, right now.

5:00 p.m.  Make Dinner:  Shepherd’s Pie!  I love Shepherd’s Pie but I didn’t really know how to make it really well until about a year ago.  And the version I make is admittedly a churched up version of it.  It’s based on this recipe from Gordon Ramsay.  It’s seriously delicious.  Seriously.


8:00 p.m. Watch TV:   Moone Boy.  If you do only one thing on this list, this is the thing to do.   It’s an Irish sitcom I was introduced to by my friend (and globe trotting makeup artist) Andrea.  It revolves around 12 year old Martin Moone and his imaginary friend.  And it is great television all around.



And now your day of Irish is almost complete.

Head up to bed, get under the covers and say a little prayer of thanks to the Irish.  For the hypodermic needle,  WiFi, flavoured potato chips, the tattoo machine, colour photography and soda water.

And  yes.  Liam Neeson.


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  1. Robert says:

    I can´t belibe I’m the first to comment. Karen I LOVE your blog

  2. mumzy says:

    Top of the ‘rish mornin to ya … my favourite Irish to watch is Agnes Brown, (Angelica Huston) and the blessed Father Ted …. and eating potato bread…

  3. KiwiKat says:

    Father Ted on the tele, followed by a Tommy Tiernan or Ed Byrne comedy special, proper Irish stew with colcannon, followed by a Guiness chocolate cake for dessert.

    Happy St Paddy’s day!

  4. Grammy says:

    Everybody loves this holiday, and now with your guidance there’s way more to love. At my house we have a longstanding joke, though, because my husband’s heritage is Irish and mine is very British. So when he says “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” I always reply with “My people kill your people.” Always sets us up for a fun day together.

    • Kat says:

      sorry jusst boil your corned beef in apple juice

      • Kat says:

        now that I have your attention just boil the damn thing in a couple cans of apple juice then make a fancy mustard sauce from frenches mustard and brown sugar or maple syrup and do what you will

        • Jan says:

          Well said, Kat! That does sound yummy.
          Love Shepard’s pie too, made with anything but sheep. Blech. I will herd cows or pigs or chickens into this pie.

  5. Where’s me jumper??!!?

  6. Natika says:

    Oh this sounds like an awesome St. Patrick’s Day! I know it’s cliche, but I would add in a Guiness or so at some point. Love the music choices too!

  7. Tigersmom says:

    Moone Boy looks like my kind of television.

    Liam Neeson. Yum.

  8. Ok, it’s 11.00 am here in Dublin, Ireland.
    I’m too late for Irish Coffee, had a cuppa tea (or tay depending on where you’re from in Ireland!). No need to call in sick, it’s a holiday here! Yay! Meeting friends later to celebrate Paddy’s Day.

    2 suggestions re Irish music and books:

    Music: Hozier “Take me to Church” – not trad Irish, but it’s amazing
    Stockton’s Wing

    Books: Room by Emma Donoghue

    Happy Paddys Day to one and all!

  9. Su says:

    Van Morrison, Maeve Binchy, and Liam Neeson… sigh a great day

  10. Scouty says:

    Wearing a wee bit of green, emerald earrings are a nice touch

  11. marilyn says:

    i love that guy in moone more reason to watch it..he was in bridesmaids and i fell in love with him!

  12. Rose says:

    I loved the smell of “minced meat” cooking when I came home from school. Ground beef with onions, carrots, garlic simmering away. She used to put an egg in her mashed potatoes too, but no one believed me. Now, Gordon Ramsay does it, so it must be good!

  13. I am drinking green beer as soon as it’s acceptable and I just might eat some of that corned beef boiled in apple juice! I’m part Irish so I get the day off with pay already. Now for finding that show Moone Boy. Cheers!!

  14. Jody says:

    Sounds great but shamrock have 3 leaves. St. Patrick used them to explain the Holy Trinity. A four leaf clover has nothing to do with St. Daddy.

  15. Mary Werner says:

    Loved Liam since watching Nell. My kind of man! Thanks Karen for a great day and watch out for the little people.

  16. Leslie says:

    While I love Angela’s Ashes,I pretty much spent the entire book balling my eyes out. It was a lovely, poetic, catharsis for Frank McCourt who really is a brilliant writer. The sequel, ‘Tis, is also fantastic and, comparatively, like the sun came out after a dark storm! I love the Irish writers- they are the kings of the snarky, run-on sentence!
    Another incredible, little-known Irish movie is “An Everlasting Piece”. It’s a comedy taking place in Belfast about a couple of fellas who cut hair in an insane asylum. One is Catholic and the other, Protestant. The movie features John Cleese (yes, I know he’s a Brit but oh such a good comedian) as the owner of the biggest hairpiece company in Ireland who gets put in the insane asylum for scalping a client. The two hair utters set out to get his client list with the intent of taking over the business and hell does break loose!

  17. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    …love Liam Neeson.

  18. Barney Google says:

    OMG, I love Moone Boy. Have watched all the episodes on Hulu+ and am waiting for another season to arrive (soon, I hope). I guess tonight, being St Patty’s & all, I’ll have to watch them all again! Top O the Mornin to ya.

  19. Julie says:

    Fantastic – Im off now to gather the makings of a “Ramsay” sheppards pie. Also going to check out “Moone Boy.

    Thank you sooooo much – for such an entertaining read over Breakfast Karen.


  20. kelliblue says:

    Top o’ the mornin’ to ye, lass! I already loved the Irish (hello?! U2?!? and then some) but learning about all of these Irish inventions really gave me a warm fuzzy. Need to visit Ireland!

    Can’t do an Irish coffee here at the office but I AM having a Vietnamese coffee ( with a splash of Bailey’s coffee creamer, I’m wearing (appropriately) Kelly green, and my hair is red. Plus I’m Irish. Will that suffice? 🙂

  21. Pingback: Single Shot Monday: I just said, “Gimme.”… | Elen Grey

  22. Sally says:

    That lovely feller in Moone boy is also about to open on Broadway in Of Mice and Men. I feel a New York road trip coming on.

  23. Miss V says:

    I might change Stiff Little Fingers for the Undertones but otherwise perfect… Maybe an episode or two of Father Ted as well!

  24. jainegayer says:

    Had the Jamieson in my coffee this am and I’m just having a relaxing St. Patrick’s Day.
    I will definitely try the Shepard’s Pie but tonight is corned beef and cabbage
    and some good Irish beer.

  25. nancy says:

    Liam Neesom is lovely, but skip the movie “The Grey”. Dreary! Another reason to dislike gray.
    I am part Irish, Scottish, English and French but The Royal We all get along well.

  26. sera says:

    Oooh, I love Moone Boy!! I haven’t finished watching it so, that’s perfect. Today is day 9 of working 14 days straight so I cheated and bought a corned beef and cabbage dinner at the grocery last night. But, then I realized that I didn’t buy enough for two people, so I’m going to have to make some more potatoes and cabbage. I can’t be trusted to grocery shop after a 9 hour shift in a grocery store without a list. Somehow I ended up spending $70 and I don’t know what I bought.
    Maybe I’ll just try to make the corned beef into a shepard’s pie, or maybe I’ll just order a pizza.

  27. kate-v says:

    We had our corned beef with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots last night – tonight it’s colcannon – that’s what we’re having. happy St Paddy’s Day

  28. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    That Shepherds Pie sounds great..can I leave out the wine?? My version is just browned ground beef..mashed potatoes on top of that and cheese on top of the potatoes..simple but good..sometimes I put a veggie between the meat and potatoes..Today it is Corned Beef and Cabbage..This is the only day of the year that I make it so we really look forward to it.. Happy Irish Day Everyone!!!

  29. magali says:

    I didn’t have to call in sick today, one of the perks of living in St. John’s! People were in the bars at 7:30 for traditional Irish breakfast this morning… I only made it out at 11!

  30. Have you noticed there’s a dearth of Irish puddin’s? Boiled beef and cabbage and that’s your lot.

  31. Patti says:

    Liam Neeson has been in the news here in NYC lately because he’s a supporter of the horse-drawn carriages and our mayor is not. I’m with Liam. Anyway, in today’s NY Post, Liam says:
    Ballymena, North Ireland’s Liam Neeson: I was Guinness’ brewery forklift truck driver there and want to end my days doing that again. Returning periodically keeps me on an even keel. Whatever bothers me I can see my way through. That simple life cuts through the BS. Even my [dogs] Molly and Ceilidh (means Irish Dance) have Celtic names.
    Love that man. Happy St. Paddy’s everybody!

  32. Gwen says:

    How can we watch Moone Boy here in Canada? My St. Paddy’s day has been spent cooking and trying to find a way to watch the show – the previews look fantastic! I’m going to start drinking now…

  33. meg says:

    OMG a big irish. hahaha you are effing hysterical. I love every word of this post.
    also, Liam Neeson- YES.


  34. Rebecca Dexter says:

    How could you possibly forget John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in THE QUIET MAN…surely an Irish classic if there ever was one!?!

  35. mary says:

    Hi Karen,
    Here in Chicago everyone is losing their minds as it’s sunny and slightly warm. We are wearing silly green items and feeling like MAYBE spring will eventually show up.
    To celebrate, I just made the recipe you posted, as it was a bit of freak Irish luck that I had everything so why waste the opportunity? I also love Liam Neeson, as well as Daniel Day O’Lewis.
    Happy SPD, everyone!

  36. shauna says:

    me mother taught me this Irish curse – I hope you can use it:
    “May those that love us love us. And for those who don’t love us, may God turn their hearts.
    And if he cannot turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles, so by their limping we may know them.”
    Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

  37. Beckie says:

    Liam in The Haunting…nice

    Irish soda bread? check

    ham/cabbage/potatoes? check

    watched some Irish step dancers this morning…and wore green

    Dia duit!

  38. Karen says:

    Karen have you seen the youtube clip of Liam Neeson and Ricky Gervais doing improv? I laugh every time. Not for everyone but I think you’ll see the humour in it.

    • Karen says:

      I’m not sure if I’ve seen it or not. I’ve seen Liam Neeson on Ricky Gervais’ show and I loved it. I really, REALLY love Ricky Gervais. ~ karen!

  39. Lesley Williamson says:

    Just read “have a big Irish in us” while watching a Liam Neeson movie, so … sweet dreams!!!

  40. andrea meyers says:

    maybe St daddy has to do with Liam Neeson. I, too, would like to call him daddy. 😉

  41. ARod says:

    wow some pretty interesting info i did not know about the Irish thanks so much for sharing

  42. imdb says:

    I love Shepherd’s pie, but Liam Neeson is a hot second! 😀

  43. Barbie says:

    I hope you had a nice St. Patty’s day! I spent it in sunny California! na na na na na na! Went swimming! (not in a green pool though) Now I’m back in FREEZING Spokane WA! Whaaaaaaaa!

  44. J-Dog says:

    Tried reading Angela’s Ashes; could not finish it. It is still sitting on my desk (3 years now).

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. 🙂

  45. Jennifer Lee says:

    Another good Irish film: Into the West.

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