Step Up Your St. Patrick's Day

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, Thursday March 17, 2016, and it will be here faster than you can say "Conan O'Brien."

Conan O'Brien holding a necklace that says "Irish Princess"

For most Americans who celebrate St. Patrick's Day, this typically means making corned beef and cabbage, maybe green spaghetti for the picky eaters in the family, and calling it a night. What turkey and cranberry sauce is to Thanksgiving, is corned beef and cabbage to St. Patrick's Day in America, with the addition of potatoes and choice beverages.

Corned Beef & Cabbage Alternative

Instead of the typical meal, step-up your St. Patty's Day game with golden crust apple tarts, rich stews, crispy-edged potato cakes, Bailey's Irish Soda Bread Ice Cream and Guinness Cake. The following recipes can be found in Clodagh's Irish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Traditional Flavors, Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old Country, and Rachel's Irish Family Food: 120 Classic Recipes From My Home to Yours.

Clodagh's Irish KitchenReal Irish FoodRachel's Irish Food

American-Style Irish Movies

Now my personal St. Patrick's Day tradition is to watch the action classic, The Boondock Saints, about two Irish vigilante brothers who take down criminals in their hometown of Boston. Or you may prefer to watch The Departed, about an undercover cop in the Irish-American mafia. Another family favorite is Gangs of New York, about an Irish immigrant turf war in the 1800s that spans a generation.

Boondock SaintsThe DepartedGangs of New York

Irish Cinema

While these movies are fun, complete with American actors putting on various degrees of passable Irish accents, they are far from actual Irish cinema. Broaden your horizons with Irish films and movies starring Irish actors.

Waking Ned DevineWaking Ned Devine After Ned Devine dies from shock that he's won the lottery, his village bands together to fool the lottery into believing that Ned is still alive so they can collect and split the prize money.



In the Name of the FatherIn the Name of the Father Fact-based film about Gerry Conlon, the young Irish punk who is caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. He and his father, along with friends of Gerry, are found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. There, his father shows his true strength, and Gerry works to prove their innocence and clear his father's name.

OnceOnce A beautiful, romantic original musical set in the streets of Dublin. A street musician meets fellow musician and Czech immigrant as they work through pain, the past and new love through captivating music.




The Secret of Kells The Secret of Kells The mesmerizingly beautiful first Irish animated motion picture, based on illustrations from one of Ireland's treasure's, The Book of Kells. In a remote medieval outpost of Ireland, a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying a book brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide.


image from the Secret of Kells

Irish Film Festival at San Jose State University

Additionally, we have our very own Irish Film Festival happening locally at San Jose State University! Brooklyn is the moving story of an Irish immigrant woman living in Brooklyn in the 1950s, torn between her hometown and new life in America. Ondine, is the tale of a fisherman living on the Irish coast, who captures a magical woman who gives him good luck in one of his fishing nets. Both film screenings are free and include a selection of short films.

2nd Annual San Jose State Irish Film Festival poster

So whether you're cooking an authentic Irish meal for the first time, or checking out a new movie, this St. Patrick's Day is the perfect time to build new traditions!

*Bonus: watch Conan O'Brien connect with his Irish heritage on Youtube.


So glad to see a recommendation for the great work of Tomm Moore (director of The Secret of Kells)! His Song of the Sea is another wonderful dive into Irish culture. I think the storytelling work from this animation studio is easily on par with the better known Pixar and Ghibli. Had I only known about them back in 2011, I was within walking distance of their studio in Kilkenny!

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