St. Patrick and the Emerald Isle

My sister recently ordered a DNA test and the results came back that our predominant genetic/cultural matches were Ireland and Scotland. I was excited, even though we always thought we were more British Isles (this, however explains my obsession with all things plaid.)

We visited Ireland for the first time in October of 2017. Although I’ve  posted about our trip there, I thought it would be fun to do a little bit of of a retrospective of the Emerald Isle.

First stop, the Blarney Castle for the kissing of the stone.

Video by Tim McMurtry

Blarney Castle
The tree sweaters at Blarney Castle
Gotta love those tree sweaters.
Interior of the castle
Acquiring the gift of blarney. The green you see is the meadow and trees several hundred feet below.

Blarney Castle battlements. Photo by Tim McMurtry

The difference between baloney and blarney was described to us this way; if a man approaches a mature woman and asks her age, he might say “I wanted to know because I thought you were 16” (baloney. ) Blarney would be, “I wanted to know at what age women achieve perfection.”  I could go with that.

What we didn’t know about the castle was that the Blarney Stone is at the top of several AWFUL upward winding stairways. Steep, narrow and uneven, they were part of the castle’s defense system. Enjoy the photos, I will never climb up there again.

Another part of the defense system, the Poison Gardens.

Oh oh, Irish weed. Poison in Ireland and legal in California.

A more pleasant surprise was the beautiful estate surrounding the castle that included grottos and waterfalls.

It was enchanting, speaking of which (witch?)…

We didn’t see any leprechauns until we reached the gift shop. There they were, caught and canned by the dozens.

On to Waterford…

In Waterford you would find crystal… and Vikings.

Then a stop in Kilkenny where the guys became captives. Blarney? You decide.


“After having a great time in Waterford and heading towards Dublin we saw a sign indicating Killkenny was not far away.  Having ancestors from County Killkenny and it wasn’t dark yet, we decided to go.

The town center was old, medieval with very narrow streets. Driving is difficult on the opposite side of the street than what you’re used to.  Add in the narrow streets with cars parked on both sides with barely enough space for one car to get through (yet it’s a two lane road.)  I didn’t get to see much, because I was so focused on driving.  When we found a place to park by a large department store I was ready to get out an explore.

Pam’s foot still hurt so she didn’t want to explore, but Tim and I wandered around city center heading towards the castle.  There were neat old churches, cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways you could only walk through and lots of people with interesting accents.

We got to the castle and checked, but we were too late to take a tour.  It was an interesting castle surrounded by a 12 foot stone wall and a very large lawn that lots of people were playing on or walking their dogs or just strolling around.  Here is what it looked like from the castle.  Notice all the people walking around and there are even more in the distance.  I thought it would be cool to take a picture from the hill you see it the distance.

We got there and took a picture as most of the people were clearing out.  There was this one man in the yard…” here the story stops, I will add the basics and hope Newell will finish his narrative later.

Tim shares that they were about here when they heard a bell ring. Not knowing what it was for, they started for the castle to find out.

When they arrived, to their chagrin, they discovered that the bell signaled that the castle was closing and they were locked in! The beautiful 12 foot stone walls defied their attempts to exit. Finally they found a tree that they could climb up, then get on the wall and jump off the other side. Imagine their astonishment when they discovered they were in a private yard, also with a locked gate! Somehow they figured out an escape route and got out. And there I was blithely shopping and wondering what had taken them so long.
Climbing over the wall here to exit the castle was not a viable option.
 The escapees found this route back to town.

We love Ireland.

We usually do a roasted corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day but our trip there inspired me to try an authentic Irish meal.

Truly Irish Cuisine

Image result for split pea soup
Photo by Yummy Mummy Kitchen


Wash and pick over

1 lb. split peas

Place in a large pot and cover with 2 quarts of cold water.      Simmer gently 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Add

1 meaty ham bone, about 1 1/2 lbs.

2 tsp. ham-flavored soup base or 2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 1/2 C diced onion

1/4 tsp marjoram

1 tsp thyme

2 potatoes, diced

1 C celery, sliced

1 C carrots, sliced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove ham bone, cut off meat and return to soup.

Adjust seasonings; serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Welcome to my Instant Pot pork roast recipe.
Photo by Recipe This


For bone-in pork roast, plan 1 lb. per serving; for boneless buy 1/2 lb. per serving. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a baking pan, place on a rack

3 – 5 lb. pork roast

rub with oil, sprinkle on salt and pepper. Bake uncovered 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Test for doneness with meat thermometer, should register at least 170 degrees.

Image result for caramelized onions
Photo by Chowhound


In a large skillet over medium heat, melt

2 TBSP butter


3 medium to large onions, sliced thinly

1 tsp sugar

Cook, stirring frequently about 30 minutes. Reduce heat and continue  cooking until onions are golden brown and soft, about an hour. Add

1 – 2 TBSP water if needed to reduce sticking.

Season with salt and pepper, serve hot with pork roast.

Image result for colcannon
Photo by Irish Central


Scrub thoroughly

8 medium potatoes

Place in a tall pot and cover with water. Add

1 onion, diced

1 tsp. salt

Over medium-high heat, boil 7 minutes. Add

1/4 cabbage or a handful of kale, thinly sliced

Continue boiling until potatoes are tender, about 7 minutes. Drain.

Mash and add

2 Tbsp butter

milk to desired consistency

Serve with butter, salt and pepper


Thoroughly wash and snap off stalk ends from

2 lbs. asparagus

Place in a large skillet with lid, cover with water and add

1 tsp. salt

Cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes

Image result for oatmeal molasses bread
Photo by RecipeOfHealth


In a small saucepan melt over medium heat

1 TBSP butter

Stir in

1/2  C milk

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 C dark molasses

Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine and stir until dissolved

1/4 C very warm water

1 pkg dry yeast

3 TBSP brown sugar, firmly packed

Let stand until bubbly, 5 – 15 min. Add milk mixture,

3/4 C bran cereal

1 1/2 C oat flour (grind oats in blender until powdery)

1 C whole wheat flour

Beat until well-blended, add

3/4 C all-purpose flour

Knead or beat until smooth. Place dough in greased bowl, turn over to grease top. Cover and place in a draft -free area to rise until doubled, about 1 – 1/2 hours. Punch dough down, knead briefly then shape into ball and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled about 40 minutes. With a sharp knife or razor, cut a tic-tac-toe design in the top of the loaf. Bake at 350 until browned and hollow-sounding when thumped 30 – 35 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Image result for crate of apples
Photo by Storyblocks


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together

2 eggs

2 C sugar

1/4 C oil

1/2 C applesauce

1 can apples packed in water, drained

1 C whole wheat flour

1 C all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 C nuts, chopped (optional)

Place in greased and floured 9″ x 13″ pan, bake for 1 hour. Cool. Frost with

2 C powdered sugar

2 TBSP lemon juice

Irish blessings for you in the coming year! And enjoy the story of the man who inspired the holiday – Saint Patrick.

2 Replies to “St. Patrick and the Emerald Isle”

  1. Thank you! I knew your site would have something great for St Patrick’s Day! Love the pictures and story of your trip. I was looking for authentic Irish to make for dinner, I will use your recipes. I am 47% Irish plus a little British. Thanks, Sue Allred

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