IF YOU WANT TO CELEBRATE ST PATRICK'S DAY WITH SOME ACTUAL IRISH THINGS

  1. FIRST, SOME BACKGROUND: St. Patrick's Day as we know it today is basically an Irish-American invention. It's been sold back to the Irish in Ireland who now go all out, mostly for tourists, of which a good portion are Irish-American. Most of my friends here in Dublin are doing genuinely zero today, just staying home & avoiding the marauding hordes.
  2. When I worked at Tom Bergin's in LA 2 years ago on St. Patrick's Day, I was banging the drum for contemporary, actual Irish culture, as opposed to Irish-American culture, or how other Americans celebrate what they see as Irish-American culture and its nostalgic versions of Ireland. I did not get a lot of takers.
    Still love you Bergin's! Wearing the t-shirt today! If you're in LA you should definitely go there!
  3. I've lived & worked in Ireland for most of the last 14 years. As of 2012, I'm an Irish citizen too. Before I lived in Ireland, I would have said, as Americans do, that I'm Irish. Living here, I learned: no. I was, and am American. & now:these years later, I'm not just legally but also culturally and spiritually Irish as well.
    So I'm an Irish-American Irish American?
  4. Consequently, I have the experience of nearly always feeling both like a foreigner and like I'm home, whether I'm in the US or Ireland.
    This is a very Irish experience.
  5. This is a confusing holiday for me. I don't want to dismiss any celebration of Irish-American culture today outright on the grounds that it's inauthentically Irish, because that's not really what it's about. Also, Irish-American culture is not a monolith. It's different depending on the city & the generational demographic of the immigrants.
    Also, delving into Irish-Americanness v. Irishness would be a thesis, not what's meant to be a jaunty list on a fun holiday. Also also: for all our dismissal of the hoopla in Dublin, were I or any of my Irish friends abroad today, we'd definitely be celebrating it. St. Patrick's Day is not just about emigrants to America, and emigration is a complex emotional matrix. Emigration has been such a huge part of Irish history that leaving Ireland actually IS authentically Irish.
  6. But I also feel duty-bound to share the real aspects of this vibrant, beautiful, messy, artsy, troubled, traditional, innovating, contradictory, hopeful, spirited, irrepressible place and culture I call home.
    (I also feel compelled to call out things you might see today that are legit offensive.)
  7. And if you're interested in that too, here goes:
  8. FOOD: DON'T bother with corned beef and cabbage. Corned beef is not a tremendously traditionally Irish thing; it became a staple for Irish immigrants in America. The Irish traditional food this derives from is bacon and cabbage, but it's not American-style bacon, more like a big chunk of ham. Traditional bacon and cabbage is still eaten today.
    Theories of where the corned beef swap came from include the fact that beef was simply cheaper in America than in Ireland (where it was rarely eaten due to the cost), or that it came from a kind of Irish-Jewish culinary fusion. The Irish and Jewish immigrants lived in close proximity and the Irish discovered that corned beef had a similar texture to the bacon back home.
  9. DO: check out the recipes of Denis Cotter (www.deniscotter.com/recipes), Rachel Allen (www.rachelallen.com), Domini Kemp (www.twitter.com/kempsisters), Darina Allen, Rozanna Purcell (www.naturalbornfeeder.com), and Donal Skehan (www.donalskehan.com/recipes).
  10. ALSO DO check out the St. Patrick's Day recipes on the Drop Kitchen app (free!), including this beautiful Molasses and Stout Soda Bread. Traditional Irish soda bread is not the sweet, raisin-studded scone-textured thing we make in America, but is a savoury, dense, wholewheat loaf. Also, Drop is an Irish startup! www.getdrop.com
  11. DRINKING: DON'T drink green beer. No one does that here.
  12. ALSO DON'T order an Irish Car Bomb or a Black and Tan. These are super inappropriate names for drinks and would never be used here. The first is obvious. The latter isn't just the name of what you mix for the drink but also the name of a special British military division that was particularly brutal during the Irish war of independence.
    A half stout, half ale is called simply a half and half here. As for the other one, it's called nothing because we have the good sense to not drink that curdling nonsense nightmare.
  13. DO check out the good stuff coming from new Irish distilleries and microbreweries. The Teeling whiskey distillery is the first to open in Dublin since 1871, and also the only distillery in operation in Dublin at all. They're making a whole range of very delicious whiskeys.
  14. Dungarvan Brewing Company makes WONDERFUL beers, though I'm not sure where or whether they're available in America.
  15. Glendalough Gin is really interesting, with varieties made with local herbs and flowers in-season.
  16. MUSIC: SO MANY, TOO MANY. Just go to Nialler9's New Irish Music weekly playlist: nialler9.com/introducing-new-weekly-irish-music-playlist . Includes Jape, Girl Band, Little Green Cars, I Am The Cosmos, Le Galaxie, Booka Brass Band, Villagers, Slow Skies, The Gloaming, Maud in Cahoots, Wallis Bird, and more artists you need in your life.
  17. Special shoutout to my friends The Evertides. Multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriters influenced by folk and Irish traditional music. Listen here: sound cloud.com/theevertides
  18. FILM: DON'T watch Leap Year. Ever.
  19. And I'm also currently listening to Le Galaxie. Shimmery synthy catchy dancepop world domination awaits them. Legalaxie.net
  20. DO check out the Oscar-winning films Room (Irish director, Irish writer) and Stutterer (Irish writer/director).
  21. ALSO DO keep an eye out for the upcoming Sing Street, by John Carney (Once). It's SO MUCH FUN.
    Also look for the film Mammal, which premiered to lots of buzz at Sundance this year.
  22. Sherlock fans, try to track down a 1995 film by Cathal Black called Korea. It features a young Andrew Scott & is very beautiful.
  23. I cannot recommend more highly the absolutely STUNNING animated films The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea. They're both about Irish heritage - the Book of Kells, and the myth of selkies, respectively - and incorporate traditional Celtic design and imagery into the animation. They're both absolutely beautiful.
  24. Awesome documentaries of the last few years include One Million Dubliners, about Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin; His & Hers by Ken Wardrop; and The Queen of Ireland by Conor Horgan, about how the drag queen Panti Bliss became an integral, galvanising force of the YES Equality campaign for last year's marriage referendum.
  25. COMEDY: the funniest, most clever, most politically astute comics in Ireland today are The Rubberbandits. I'm not sure how some of their work translates without a cursory knowledge of current Irish politics, but I have to recommend them anyway. Www.youtube.com/user/Rubberbandits
  26. I also recommend David O'Doherty (davidodoherty.com), Sharon Horgan (watch Catastrophe! Twitter.com/sharonhorgan), Aisling Bea (currently making the standup rounds in LA! aislingbea.com), and Des Bishop (another Irish-American expat who's made his home here: desbishop.net).
  27. PODCASTS: An Irishman Abroad, hosted by the comic Jarlath Regan, is very entertaining and apropos for the day: now based in London, Regan interviews well-known Irish writers, actors, musicians, and other public figures about the experience of living and/or working abroad. Soundcloud.com/an-Irishman-abroad
  28. RTE's The Documentary on One is multi-award winning and draws on the radio archive dating back to 1954. Soundcloud.com/doc-on-one
  29. FINAL PRO TIP: DON'T call it St. Patty's Day.
  30. DO say St. Patrick's Day, or Paddy's Day.
  31. BUT DON'T call Irish people "Paddies." Unless their actual name is Paddy.