Who Was St. Brigid?

Stained Glass Window Featuring St. Brigid

Who Was St. Brigid?

The Feast of St. Brigid is upon us—February 1 to be exact. But what do you know about this patron saint of Ireland? Follow along as we take a closer look at her life.

 When and where did she live?

St. Brigid was born in the middle of the 5th century and died in the first part of the 6th century. She is thought to have been born to a slave mother and a noble father. Her mother was sold to a Druid landowner, and therefore Brigid grew up alongside the Celts in Ireland. It was during this time as a very young child that she began to demonstrate her generosity, feeding the poorest of the poor and healing the sick.

Cathedral of St. Brigid, Kildare, County Kildare

What are some of her acts that lead to sainthood?

There are numerous legends about the woman, who is sometimes referred to as Brigit, Bridget, or Brigid of Kildare. She performed numerous acts of kindness for the poor. The bulk of these involve providing food or healing as mentioned above. Notably, she is said to have restored sight to a fellow nun. Popularly, she is credited with having changed water into beer for a colony of lepers. This led to her sometimes, jokingly, being referred to as the patron saint of beer.

She founded two monasteries (one for men and one for women) in Kildare along with numerous convents across the Emerald Isle. In addition, she started an art school. She was also thought to have been close friends with St. Patrick, and it was he who heard her final vows before entering a convent.

 She is the patron saint of what things? She (along with St. Patrick) is a patron saint of Ireland. She is also patron saint of dairymaids, cattle, midwives, Irish nuns, and newborn babies.

St. Brigid Reed Cross

How is she remembered today?

Her feast day is commemorated in the Catholic Church on February 1. She is often depicted holding a reed cross, a hooked staff, or a lamp. Since she is the patron saint of dairy, fresh bread and butter are staples of the day. Some still leave a loaf of bread and milk or butter outside their door in honor. Many also enjoy a beer in observance of the day as well.

Dublin Coddle

Looking for a meal to fill your tummy and warm your bones? Try a pot of Dublin Coddle, a unique stew blend of sausage, potatoes, bacon, and seasonings. This dish is said to be a centuries-old favorite of the Irish, with many families and towns having their own variations for the thick stew. It’s a favorite for a number of reasons. Notably, it’s a hearty, low-cost dish, and the one-pot dinner requires little hands-on or cleanup time. Try this recipe (or your own variation) for a crowd-pleasing winter dinner.

Serves 4-6

 INGREDIENTS
1 lb thick-cut bacon
1 lb pork sausages
3 medium-sized onions, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 lbs white or red potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups chicken stock (vegetable or beef may be substituted)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Cut the bacon into 1-to-2-inch pieces and sauté in a skillet or Dutch oven. Once crispy, remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel. Cut the sausage links into similar bite-sized pieces and sear in the bacon fat remaining in the pan. In a clean Dutch oven, layer the ingredients in this order: onions, carrots, bacon, sausages, and potatoes. Sprinkle parsley throughout the layers and cover with chicken stock and salt and pepper. Cook for approximately 4 hours on 300°F. Alternatively, you may cook the meat as directed above and then add all the ingredients to a slow cooker on low for 5-6 hours. If desired, add additional broth to reduce thickness.

Get Organized in 2019!

There’s something about the fresh, clean slate of January that inspires us to pick up, declutter, and get organized in general. Today, we’re sharing five products that can help you to straighten every area from the master bath to your car. Read on to learn more.

In the Kitchen, Playroom or Office

Use a set of Shamrock Baskets to tidily stow everything from puzzles and games to newspapers, magazines, and more. We love the Irish flair these baskets add to the room, and they’ll be an especially perfect addition to green rooms. 


In the Bedroom

Are you the type who comes home every day and empties your pockets on the dresser or chest of drawers? If so, you need a box for all the “pocket stuff.” Curtail the clutter of loose change, lotion, receipts, hand sanitizer, and whatever else you may have accumulated during the day in a Copper Stamped Box.


In the Bath

If it’s jewelry that seems to be taking over your life—or your vanity, rather—organize it in a Belleek Shamrock Ring Holder. Stack rings on the column and place stud earrings and small necklaces in the basin of this collector’s item. 


In the Entry

Are keys piling up in your junk drawer, in the console of your car, or at the table in your foyer? Circle them up on an Irish Celtic Cross Keyring. For less frequently used keys add labels or color codes to indicate which doors or locks they open.


On the Go

If it feels like you’re always off to a new adventure—or soccer practice, dance lesson, or piano recital—keep a bag of essentials packed and ready to go. Rather than having snacks scattered around the car and scarves tossed haphazardly into the laundry room or coat closet, keep everything together in a stylish Leather Tote Bag that you’ll want to carry along for the ride.

 

Your Irish New Year’s Meal

Many Americans have a set New Year’s Day menu. It often consists of fare such as ham, black-eyed peas (particularly for superstitious Southerners), and greens. The Irish, too, have a traditional feast to welcome the new year. You’ll most likely find them dining on a tried-and-true favorite—corned beef and cabbage with a side of potatoes and carrots.

If you need a recipe, try our Traditional Corned Beef with Cabbage. You can cook the cabbage, carrots, and new potatoes along with the corned beef in a Dutch oven to make for an easy one-pot meal that will warm your bones on a cold winter’s day.

Soda bread is a natural pairing with this meal. Centuries ago, New Year’s Day was known as the Day of the Buttered Bread in Ireland. While this is no longer widely celebrated on the Emerald Isle, there’s no harm in cooking a loaf of your favorite soda bread, buttering a piece, and enjoying the idea of the custom in your own home. If you don’t have a recipe you love, try a box of Hogan’s Brown Irish Soda Bread Mix. It’s a quick way to get the taste of this traditional staple.

Finally, don’t let the day get away without a dessert. We believe celebrating the arrival of 2019 should involve your favorite things, like beer and chocolate. That’s why we love this recipe for a Chocolate Guinness Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Icing. If you haven’t tried this delectable dessert, it’s sure to become a staple for special occasions. Of course, if you don’t want to spend time in the kitchen you can always pick up a package of Oh Ryan’s Irish Potatoes to pass around the table.

Whatever you choose, remember to invite loved ones to your table to share in the joy of a new year together. Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve for ALL Ages

Looking for New Year’s Eve plans the entire family can enjoy? Try one of these activities for couples, kids, and friends of all ages.

For the Adults

Just because the party is for all ages, doesn’t mean you can’t have adults-only activities. Since it’s New Year’s Eve, you may want to set up a bar or a champagne toast area. When the clock strikes midnight, everyone can clink glasses as they wish one another a happy and healthy 2019.

Adults may want to relax, so think about creating a comfortable lounge area where they can kick back and snack on the evening’s fare while they enjoy a conversation. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some of your guests may be ready to play. Set up a poker table or place for card games (we love a round of Spades or Canasta), and let the good times roll.


For the Kids

Kids (especially the ones who can stay awake until midnight!) will want in on the toast as well. Be sure to have sparkling cider on-hand for them to say “cheers.”

Create a special New Year’s Eve fun room for kids who are old enough to play on their own. Turn your dining room, playroom, or office into an area with different zones they can enjoy throughout the night. For example, make a zone for crafting New Year’s hats, one for playing games, and one for watching movies.


For Everyone

If you live in an area where you are able to shoot fireworks or use sparklers, this is a much-loved New Year’s tradition that everyone will enjoy watching. Be sure to take care and follow the proper instructions for all fireworks to prevent injury.

And, of course, you’ll want to have “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” on the television to catch performances from the year’s hottest music acts and to see the ball drop when the clock strikes 12. Whether young or young at heart, it’s one tradition that seems to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

Your Irish Christmas

Christmas is less than 10 days away, but there’s still time to add Irish cheer to your celebration. Here are four simple ways to make December 25th just a tad Irish.

 

Decorate

Even with less than two weeks to go, you can still decorate your home with some of the most beloved Irish Christmas traditions. Fresh greenery and a tree are obvious choices. Don’t forget to add a few Irish ornaments to your mix. We like the idea of adding one per year to steadily grow your collection.

There’s another decoration you must wait until Christmas Eve to set up, the welcoming candle. This thick candle is to be placed in a windowsill and lit after sunset on Christmas Eve. It burns all night and is meant to serve as a guiding or welcoming light for Mary and Joseph.

 

Bake

While traditional Irish families may have a variety of desserts on Christmas, there’s one that stands out, a cake with caraway seed. This distinctively flavored dessert has found favor among both the Irish and British. It’s a perfect complement to coffee or a nightcap. Here’s a quick recipe to make your own.

Caraway Seed Cake

INGREDIENTS
¾ cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 egg whites
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon caraway seed

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 300°. Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add egg whites one at a time, gradually working into the mixture. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and gradually add to the wet mixture. Flour and grease a Bundt pan or 10-inch fluted pan and pour in the mixture. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

 

Sing

If you can only add one Irish carol to your playlist this December, make it “The Wexford Carol.” This song originated in the 1300s in County Wexford and is still a popular tune today. Other favorites include, “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night,” and “Christmas in Killarney.”

 

Reflect

Remember the reason for the season and spend some time reflecting on the birth of Jesus. You may do this by attending mass or a church service or picking up a book of daily advent readings. You may also find a connection to the season by spending time with loved ones or doing acts of kindness. Whatever you decide, slow down and enjoy the season.

5 Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas

Parties abound during the holiday season, meaning you need to be stocked and ready to go with gifts for all the hosts and hostesses who greet you. These five options are quick grab-and-go items you can keep on hand for any occasion—and most importantly, they all have Irish flair.

1 / Irish Blessing Cup and Saucer 

Give a blessing and a perfectly functional gift with this thoughtful set that is as pretty to use as it is to display.


2/ Belleek Christmas Scene Ornament

Belleek Pottery is one of Ireland’s most collectible brands. Now the traditional pieces can adorn the tree of a loved with this small ornament featuring a Christmas blessing and snowy scene.


3/ Angel Glass Sun Catcher

These green Irish angels make a perfect year-round hostess gift. Encourage the recipient to hang it near his or her kitchen sink as a reminder of grace and glory that will be seen frequently.


4/ Connemara Irish Toffee

Everyone likes a treat! Gift your host or hostess a box of Irish toffee. They can decide whether to share with your group or enjoy it all alone!


5/ Soda Mitt Set

Is the host or hostess a whiz in the kitchen? Give him or her something useful like this oven mitt and soda bread kit set. They may even invite you over to taste the finished product.

GIFT GUIDE: All for the Kids

Christmas is all about the little ones. From the sweet moments we spend baking cookies, counting snowflakes, and reading Christmas stories to the unrivaled excitement of Santa’s arrival, there’s nothing like seeing the holidays through the eyes of a child. That’s why we’re giving you a gift guide completely dedicated to kids. Read on to find a present for all the children on your list this season.

FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS

Personalized 100% Organic Romper

Get personal with a custom onesie designed to celebrate Irish pride.


 

 

Luke the Irish Lamb 

This sweet, cuddly lamb talks! Press his paw and he will recite “The Irish Blessing” and “The Lord’s Prayer.”


 

 

Belleek Shamrock Baby Cup

A baby’s first Christmas is a great time to start an Irish-inspired collection for him or her. This special shamrock cup makes a perfect first piece and a sweet Christmas gift that will be treasured for years to come.


Luck of the Irish Bear

Dressed in an Aran sweater and sporting a shamrock on his paw, this soft, smiling bear is sure to become a favorite playmate for tea parties and a snuggled companion for naptime.


FOR SCHOOL-AGE KIDS

Grow Your Own Shamrocks 

Encourage a green thumb with this tiny shamrock-growing kit.


Irish Doll in Plaid 

Do you know a little doll who deserves a collector’s item of her own? This precious red-headed girl is dressed in green and looks the part of an Irish lass.


 

Kids Shamrock Pajamas

Your cutie can snuggle up in shamrock style year-round with these cozy pajamas. They are available in toddler and youth sizes so siblings can match. 


Brosna Bodhran

Let them learn how to play traditional Irish music on this frame drum that features a Celtic design. This version is handcrafted in Ireland.


Irish Toy Truck

Toot, toot! This Irish truck delivers hours of fun for your little one and features the crests of all 32 counties on the Emerald Isle.


FOR TEENS

Ireland-Opoly

If you’re of Irish heritage, this will be a game (pun intended) changer for the way you spend family time. Two to six players can enjoy rounding the board in this Ireland-specific version of the classic Monopoly game.


 

Celtic Fairy Tales

Introduce your teen to classic Celtic fairy tales. This book, which was first published in 1892, is a full collection of time-honored tales.


Ireland Backpack

Whether for school, sports, or travel, this backpack is a fun way for any teen to show his or her love of Ireland.

Brush Up on Irish History

The cold days of winter have arrived, making it the perfect time to find a tome on your favorite Irish history topic and settle in for a read. Here are four suggestions to further your knowledge of the Emerald Isle and its storied past.

1/ Ireland – A History by Robert Kee

This book, which is in a new edition, presents a clear and thorough history of Ireland. Explore many of the facts about the country that have translated into some of today’s most fascinating tales.


 

2/ Malachy McCourt’s History of Ireland 

Best-selling author, well-known actor, personality, and Irish-American Malachy McCourt gives a tour of the Emerald Isle in this book. From pre-Christian to present day, he tells the stories of Ireland with the influence of a range of notable figures from Bono to Oliver Cromwell to James Joyce.


 

3/ The Story We Carry in Our Bones: Irish History for Americans by Juliene Osborne-McKnight

Did you know there are more than 40 million people who consider themselves to be Irish-American? If you fall into this category, this book can help you to trace the steps of your ancestors from prehistoric times to the emigration to American to present day.


 

4/ The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine Edited by John Crowley, William J. Smith, and Mike Murphy

This comprehensive work examines the history, politics, and economics of one of Ireland’s most infamous events. Readers will become engrossed in illustrated maps, drawings, and documents that help to tell the story of the Great Famine in the mid-1800s.

The 2018 Gift Guide

Christmastime is coming! Put some Irish green or Celtic-inspired gifts under the tree this year. Here are 15 ideas for everyone on your list.

1 / Claddagh Snowflake Ornament

This ornament is a thoughtful way to incorporate Irish cheer on your tree or the tree of a loved one. Give it as a gift and the recipient is sure to smile and think of you each time it’s placed on the tree.

2/ Belleek Church Lamp

This is the perfect gift for a Belleek collector or anyone who displays a village during the holiday season. The porcelain church is a reminder of the spirit of the season as well as the simple, pure beauty of this Irish pottery brand’s work.

3/ Red Celtic Coin Purse

This little coin purse is a chic and affordable (priced at under $20) gift for a friend, co-worker, or secret Santa exchange.

4/ Celtic Bowls

Either alone or as a trio, these bowls are a thoughtful reminder of one’s Irish heritage. The recipient can use them for stowing keys and change or for easy serving (they are microwave and dishwasher safe!).

5/ Hogan’s Luxury Christmas Pudding

Grab a spoon and dig into this holiday delicacy. We suggest keeping several of these made-in-Ireland treats on hand for hostess gifts or Christmas visitors.

6/ Irish Whiskey Fudge

These fudge pieces are as appreciated in a stocking as they are on when served on a tray at your holiday gathering.

7/ Baby’s First Christmas Ornament

Commemorate one of the most special times in a family’s and young child’s life with a “Baby’s First Christmas Ornament” bootie ornament. Whether for a grandchild or a beloved friend, this is sure to be a keepsake that is adored year-after-year.

8/ Saints of Ireland Rosary

This rosary is a thoughtful gift for anyone who wishes to keep thoughts of the Irish saints close while praying. An exquisite wooden Crucifix finishes the piece, one that is sure to be treasured for years to come.

9/ Your Irish Grannies’ Recipes

Treat your favorite chef to this cookbook filled with inspiring old-school Irish recipes for such classic dishes as old-fashioned soda scones, Guinness beef stew, and Northern Irish stuffing.

10/ Small Soccer Ball

If they love soccer, the littlest loves in your life are sure to have fun with this youth-sized Ireland soccer ball.

11/ Black Open Front Long Cardigan

Warm and stylish, this luxurious 100% Merino wool sweater is sure to become a favorite piece for any lady lucky enough to receive it.

 

12/ Irish American Hat

What to get the Irish-American who has everything? A hat celebrating their heritage, of course. We love this 100% cotton version that features an adjustable back.

13/ Celtic Scarf

Whether as a scarf to guard against the elements or a wrap to accessorize a dress, this purple-and-blue scarf featuring a Celtic design is a lovely gift that can be worn on almost any occasion.

14/ Celtic Weave Jewelry

Blues and greens shimmer in this bracelet, which features Connemara marble beads and a Celtic design. Gift it as a daily reminder of the Emerald Isle.

15/ Celtic Pocket Watch

Treat the gentleman in your life to a true Celtic-inspired timepiece. This pewter pocket watch features exquisite scrollwork and Trinity knot etchings.