St. Patrick' Day
St Patricks Day is celebrated each year on the 17th March. It is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland. Over the years St Patricks' Day has become a major international event, celebrated by people of both Irish and non Irish descent from all over the world with parties, parades and other special events. Hence the expression, 'Everybody's Irish on St Patrick's Day'.
My new sister in law Angela is originally from Belfast, and after marrying my brother Peter, this would be her first St Patricks Day outside of Ireland. Pete and I thought it would be fun to surprise her by throwing a surprise St Patricks' day dinner party in 'full on Irish style'. Angela thought that she was simply invited to a casual Friday night dinner.... little did she know that we secretly invited family, friends and work colleagues and asked them to come in appropriate Irish fancy dress. Basically anything green, Irish and funny would go. ..... green trousers, jackets, shamrock waistcoats, green wigs, green beads and leprechaun hats, you name it... our guests wore it....
Me, Pete and my husband Chris set to work in the afternoon decorating the lounge with a lot of things 'green' – green streamers, green shamrock balloons and green tinsel . I made paper leprechauns, four leaf clovers and shamrocks, which we stuck to the walls and windows, and hung from the banisters and ceilings. We even found green coloured light bulbs and green Christmas lights. The house looked seriously green........ it was brilliant. Pete really got into the swing of things, spray painting his hair a shockingly bright shade of green. He looked hysterical.
As the guests arrive we began by serving drinks. As well as traditional Irish beer, (Guinness of course, is a must), we served regular light beer which I coloured green with food colouring!!! Everybody also really loved my special bright green shamrock cocktails made by mixing Irish whisky, green crème de menthe and milk shaken with crushed ice. ..delicious
With the drinks flowing we started on some party games I had prepared earlier - a treasure hunt to find the leprechaun's pot of gold ( which was basically chocolate coins in a little basket), an Irish Quiz, burst the green balloon game and toss the hot potato.
I prepared a wonderful dinner with a number of Irish inspired recipes. There are lots of great ideas on the internet ,and I opted for traditional Irish Stew with dumplings, green garlic bread, Irish soda bread , boiled carrots, boiled new potatoes with butter and a green, green salad made with lettuce, avocado, cucumbers, green peppers, green peas and cucumber. I set the table with green tablecloths, napkins and paper cups and scattered generous amounts of green shamrock confetti all over the place. In the centre of the table I placed a vase of traditional 'Irish' green carnations and two large green candles.
Over dinner we took it in turns to tell a joke or a story in our best Irish accents. Angela found the guests attempts at her nation's accent (especially after a few drinks) absolutely hilarious.
With so much to prepare I had decided to have a local confectioner make a cake for dessert decorated of course in green icing, clovers and shamrocks. I served it with traditional Irish coffees and peppermint ice cream... as if by this stage we had not consumed enough alcohol !!!!
The highlight of the evening was the Irish sing along. At 10 pm there was a knock at the door and our hired entertainment had arrived. I had booked the musical skills of an Irish singer/ guitarist who spent the next two hours entertaining us with traditional Irish music and in no time at all had us singing along at the tops of our voices.
The whole party was a phenomenal success. With plenty of beer flowing and the endless cracking of corny Irish jokes, we laughed our way through a fun filled evening. Everyone left with a small party gift of green jelly beans and a little clover plant, and most importantly a big smile on their face. Angela was simply amazed by the effort we had gone to. In fact the party was so much fun that we have decided to make it an annual event, each year at a different friends house – what can I say, roll on March 17th.........St Patrick's Day really is an excellent excuse for a party.....