Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Would You Like to Visit Ireland?

We are planning a group tour, (see map for tour stops) for late September or early October 2009.
The Tour will be 13 days 11 nights, 21 meals, luxury coach, all transportation in Ireland and Hotels and a night in a Castle. If you are interested, please email for more information.
We will be sending out brochure's and giving out more information.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

It's that time of year again, spring will soon be
in the air and St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner.
A Time to Celebrate being Irish.

Did you ever wonder just who St. Patrick was? Well here is some information on the Patron Saint of Ireland.

Who Was St. Patrick?
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery.

Taken Prisoner By Irish Raiders
It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain Some suggest Scotland, to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. He was held in County Mayo near Killala. During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)

Guided By Visions
After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice-which he believed to be God's-spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.
To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping , Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation-an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than fifteen years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission-to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.

Bonfires and Crosses
Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish.

The First Parade
The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Traditional Irish Cooking: Mince Pie

This is one of my favorite desserts. We make sure we always have some fresh mince pie on hand during the holidays and cold winter months. If you enjoy this recipe, you should take a look at The Best of Irish Festive Cooking by Biddy White Lennon!

Mincemeat Filling Ingredients

1/2 lb. finely chopped fresh beef suet
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
4 cups raisins, seedless
2 cup currants, dried
1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup candied citron, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup figs, dried and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup candied orange peel, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup candied lemon peel, coarsely chopped
2 cups peeled and cored cooking apples, coarsely chopped
1 cup of pale dry sherry
2-1/2 cups cups of brandy

Preparing the Mincemeat

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the brandy and sherry and stir well. Pour in brandy and sherry. Using a wooden spoon, mix together all ingredients until well moistened. Next, cover the container of mincemeat and store in a cool place for 3 weeks (do not store in the refrigerator). Once a week, check on the mincemeat. The fruit will absorb the liquid. Using about 1/2 cup at a time of brandy and sherry, replenish the liquid. When kept covered in a cool location without refrigeration, Mincemeat can be kept indefinitely. If preferred, after about a month you can refrigerate the mincemeat. Make 1 1/2 qts.

Recipe makes 8 (2-1/2-inch) pies and requires the following pastry plus 8 teaspoons softened butter and 1-1/2 cups mincemeat.
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into bits
1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
3 Tablespoons ice water

Preparing and Baking the Crust

Preheat oven to 375° F. With a pastry brush, coat bottom and sides of 8 (2-1/2-inch) tart tins with the softened butter, allowing 1 teaspoon for each tin. Combine butter, flour, salt, sugar, either in bowl or food processor. Add enough water to make the mixture just adhere together, so it is not crumbly. Form into ball, wrap in waxed paper and chill for at least one hour.

Roll out onto floured pastry cloth and with a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, cut 16 (3-inch) rounds of pastry. Gently press 8 rounds into tins, one at a time, then spoon about 3 Tablespoons of the mincemeat into each pastry shell. With a pastry brush dipped in cold water, lightly moisten the outside edges of the pastry shells and carefully fit the remaining 8 rounds over them. Crimp the edges with a fork. Trim excess pastry from around rims with a sharp knife, and cut two parallel slits, about 1/2-inch long and 1/4-inch apart in the top of each pie.

Arrange pies on a baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F. and continue baking for 20 minutes more, or until crust is golden brown. Run the blade of a knife around the inside edges of the pies to loosen them slightly, and set them aside to cool in the pans.

Then turn out the pies with a narrow spatula and serve. Enjoy with a cup of tea!