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St. Patrick’s day

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Ireland Inspiration: six places you must visit on a trip to Ireland

If there’s one thing that St.Patrick’s Day is especially good for, it’s the ability it has to bring on a strong case of wanderlust. It’s no wonder Ireland gets a reputation for being a magical, fairytale-like place: with its cobblestone roads, ancient castle ruins and perfect green fields, this island looks made for the pages of a storybook. Each year as St. Patrick’s Day arrives, many are bombarded with images of Ireland that look nearly too perfect to be true. For the avid travellers out there, this annual holiday may make booking a flight all too tempting. If considering a trip to Ireland across the Atlantic, there are several corners of the country well worth a visit. (Trust us, they won’t let your Instagram down.) Sure, Dublin may seem the most obvious spot for a tourist and while the city is as vibrant and lively as one would expect, there are several other areas to make the trip one for the books. Below, a few suggestions.

Limerick

Readers of world renowned author Frank McCourt, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the memoir Angela’s Ashes, need to make a visit to Limerick a top priority. Though the book is quite a sad story, fans of his work will see where he developed his Irish humour and can be sure to stop by iconic locations like the River Shannon during their stay.

Cliffs of Moher

These cliffs are at the top of many a traveller’s bucket list for good reason. Visiting the Cliffs of Moher is one of those experiences that actually does leave a traveller breathless. The west of Ireland has a reputation for being absolutely stunning and this gem is one of the main reasons why. The photo ops at this natural tourist attraction are aplenty. Standing 214 metres at their highest point, the cliffs are too pretty not to plan a tour. While there, keep eyes peeled for the 30,000 birds who call this place home.

Galway

Outgoing women who journey to enjoy a good party best get acquainted with the city of Galway. Situated on the coast, Galway smells of saltwater and is the perfect place to spot quaint fishing boats. The nightlife here is incredible. Take a girl pal out for the night and commit to a pub crawl along the cobblestone roads. Be sure to sample local brews of course. Looking for a day trip outside of the city? Visit the former village of Claddagh just a short drive outside of the city. It’s famous for, you guessed it, Ireland’s iconic ring.

Ulster

Exploring the streets of Ulster in Ireland’s North will satisfy the politically savvy wanderer as much as the visitor interested in art. Painted during the politically unstable period, many of the murals on city walls and houses served as propaganda and contributed to the tense atmosphere of two rivalling sides: the north and the south. Since then, some have been painted over to show more cheerful scenes, however  many originals still remain.

Aran Islands

A trip to the Aran Islands is an absolute must. Found at the mouth of Galway Bay, seeing these picturesque islands is bound to be the highlight of the trip for most tourists. Don’t believe it? Consider that National Geographic named the location one of the world’s top island destinations. These islands will seem like a throwback in time. One area that can’t be missed: world heritage site Don Aonghasa.

Comeragh Mountains

Active travellers get the hiking gear ready. For the athletic wanderer, a visit to the Comeragh Mountains is a great spot to explore Ireland by foot. The mountains have many trails to choose from and taking in the site of Coumshingaun Lake (a glacial lake) is the cherry on top of an epic day trip. The mountains are found in Waterford county which is also famous for its crystal so if visitors are looking for a rather fancy souvenir, that’s well worth the investment.

St. Patrick’s Day: How personal tradition defines the way we celebrate our holidays

 

By Sinead Mulhern

When St. Patrick’s Day rolled around each year while I was growing up in Alberta, my mom and I would get to work whipping up batches upon batches of clover-shaped cookies. In the middle of March, winter showed no signs of letting up in the Prairies and so it only seemed natural to stay inside, roll out the dough and fill the house with the agonizingly sweet smell of nearly-baked goods. In our prep, we’d throw into the bowl flour as powdery as the snow heaps outside and whirl it together with crystals of white sugar. While they baked, we mixed up the icing – green of course – ready to coat each little clover with a generous layer. Then, I’d proudly bring them to school to share with my classmates. Being  the Irish kid in the class, it was my special treat.

As traditions go, this possibly was simply an idea one year, before carrying on to the next and the next. Eventually, supplying my peers with these shamrock treats became part of my St. Patrick’s Day routine. Once, I even remember when Paddy’s Day eve rolled around and we had both forgotten so we woke up extra early and baked a double batch together in the indigo blue pre-dawn hours.

At school, I’d pass around the green snacks,  press play to an accordion tune and perform one of the jigs which I learned at dance practice in Edmonton’s Irish club. During those years, St. Patrick’s Day was the celebration of the country where both my parents were born and lived in until their mid-twenties. For me, it was green cookies and dancing and, of course, church and Irish brunch.

The latter would be standard for many Irish households living both in the stocking-shaped emerald isle or abroad – like us. The former though, are traditions we created ourselves. When the calendar turns to March 17, many in Canada will celebrate by clinking pints of Guinness or green-dyed beer. Packs of university students in North America will wear obnoxious amounts of green with probably at least one top hat and kiss-me-I’m-Irish sash in every group. In Ireland, some relatives of mine will take in mass and a breakfast of eggs and sausages after. Green sugar cookies will be few and far between, I know.

Though we religiously kept up our tradition for years, it eventually faded. I grew past the age where it would have been appropriate to pass around baked goods in class and we moved across the country,  well away from our Alberta kitchen with the snow piles out the window. While the sugary clover cutouts became a thing of the past, my mother’s and my love for working with food didn’t wane. Out were the cookies, in was the baked soda bread (a classic) or a piping hot pot of Irish stew (even more classic). Together, we busied our hands putting together recipes that were, this time, symbolic of the place where my mom grew up.

When I left home and moved to Toronto, I kept up our tradition of making food on this day even though we no longer lived in the same household. Just as I did when I was seven, I again made a point of sharing it with school friends. For a few years during this chapter in my life, I avoided the tacky party celebrations and instead whipped up a pot of Irish stew and a fresh loaf of bread for my best lady friend. Together, we drank beer well into the evening.

The food that I now make on this day is traditional, yes. But my tradition of working away in the kitchen on (or just before) March 17, and sharing with friends has nothing to do with Paddy’s Day really. That habit stems from the days I spent mixing sugar cookies with my mom. The food has changed over time, the activity has not. This is how I, a daughter of two Irish immigrant parents, choose to spend this day. It’s interesting, how the customs we make for ourselves somehow have the most importance. Our personalized celebrations often trump how holidays are typically celebrated by the masses.

This year, the tradition, for me, has changed yet again. For the first time, I won’t be in Canada for this Irish holiday. I now reside in Colombia – over 6,000 kilometres away from that Alberta home and 4,000 kilometres away from my mom. The traditions I’ve set for myself will continue to evolve as I celebrate this holiday and the ones to come. As we head into Paddy’s Day, my mom and I have already discussed our menus. She’ll make her St. Patrick’s Day stew on the weekend whereas I’ve made mine already. The difference: mine contained a cup not of Guinness, but a local beer: Club Colombia Negra.

Green Lentil Soup for St. Patrick’s Day

The day of green! How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (or weekend)? With the cold weather of late, a green soup recipe is the perfect choice for a warm cozy meal. Green lentil soup is hearty and filling, a must-have before embarking on a night of frolicking and drinking. It is easy to make — simply chop various vegetables and along with lentils, let it simmer in the pot until it is ready to eat. It is green, lean, and simply delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons plus 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup French green (Le Puy) or brown lentils
  • 8 large green chard leaves
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, scrubbed
  • 12 cups gently packed spinach (about 10 ounces), any tough stems trimmed
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground (see Tip)
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in pan and add onions until brown. Add two tablespoons of water, reduce heat and cover until onions are caramelized for about 25 to 35 minutes.
  2. Rinse and cook the lentils.
  3. When the lentils have cooked for 20 minutes, add in chard, potato, scallions, and broth. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in broccoli, cumin and coriander. When the onions are caramelized, add them to the soup. Return to a simmer, cover and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in the reserved spinach, cilantro, mint, jalapeno and pepper; return to a simmer, cover and cook until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes more. Stir in one tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice and/or pepper, if desired.

Lentils are incredibly healthy and yummy. It is easy to make a homemade soup and any leftovers can be frozen for future use or gobbled up as a St. Patrick’s hangover go-to. Either way, in the chilly March weather, a delectable green soup full of protein and veggies will not be regretted.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all of us at Women’s Post!

A redhead’s guide to great drinks for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is the one day a year where drinking is not only acceptable, it is encouraged. As a redhead, it is also the day when I get to celebrate my Irish heritage and freckled past — and the day where everyone thinks “kiss a ginger” t-shirts are entertaining.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, the bars will be full and the alcohol will be flowing. But, what if you really dislike green beer? Can you still participate in this historic day? Absolutely, and Women’s Post has you covered. Here are a few drink options that will leave you loving green, and maybe even Irish redheads to boot.

By Chase Lindberg
By Chase Lindberg

Mint Martini

A great alternative to the traditional beer is to try out a green martini. It is festive and fun as a St. Patty’s day beverage and will make your breath minty fresh if you have a date for the evening. Combine one a half ounces of green crème de menthe and one ounce of white rum with a glass filled three-quarters with ice. Shake well and garnish with mint if desired.

By Marler
By Marler

Irish Coffee 

An Irish coffee is a great way to start off your St. Patty’s morning, but it also serves as an alarm clock if you’ve had a few afternoon drinks and need a jolt. Make a cup of your favourite type of java and add one and a half ounces of Irish whiskey. Add sugar and almond milk if desired. It will be sure to give you a kick in the pants and keep the St. Patty’s party going.

By KittyKaht
By KittyKaht

Shandy

Is your tummy starting to crave something simpler? Try a shandy! This drink spices up a traditional beer by adding ginger ale. The recipe calls for three-quarters beer combined with one-quarter ginger-ale to give it a bit more bubbly. A Shandy is great with traditional Jamaican ginger ale, which is spicier.

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Lime Mojito  

It may not be beach weather yet, but you can pretend with a lime mojito! Typically a summer drink, the green mojito brings a festive element to St. Patty’s and can be refreshing if the weather is warm. Fill a glass three-quarters with club soda and ice, and then add one and a half ounces rum. Put in a few mint leaves and half of a cut-up lime with a sprinkle of white sugar for delicious mojito madness.

By Stuart Webster
By Stuart Webster

Irish Redhead

Combining sparkling cranberry juice with an ounce and a half of Jameson’s Irish whiskey makes a delectable and sweet drink to be enjoyed by all. Add ice and garnish with a slice of lime for an extra touch. It is also a great drink to make for an Irish redhead, just a hint.

What is your favourite drink on St. Patty’s? Let us know in the comments below!