Cheesy Mushroom Potato Bites

Irish cheddar and mushroom potato bites are tasty little appetizers, that can even double up as a side dish. These versatile little morsels are perfect for parties, especially Irish themed celebrations.

Preparation can be completed ahead of time. The only step required at party time is to pop them in the oven until the cheese melts with ooey gooey goodness.

Three Potato Bites

This recipe is similar to ones for loaded baked potatoes, but rather than using a big, old Idaho potato, these scrumptious little mouthfuls call for baby red potatoes.

Boil the spuds first, scoop out the flesh, mix in some extra deliciousness, reload the skins, sprinkle with cheese, bake and here ya go!

They really are simpler than they sound.

Ingredients for cheese and mushroom potato bite appetizers

Ingredients for Cheesy Mushroom Potato Bites:

 

  • 15 small read potatoes
  • 8 ounces of shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces of butter (halved)
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 8 ounces of chopped button mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • parsley to garnish

Steaming red potatoes

First step involves boiling up those potatoes. I like to steam mine. When they’re cooked I just turn off the ring and let them cool in the pot. If you boil them, once the spuds are fork tender, strain them, then leave them to cool so that you won’t burn your fingers when you scoop out the flesh.

Chopped mushroom and garlic for potato bites

Next chop up the mushrooms into fairly fine pieces. Then mince the garlic.  While the potatoes are cooling cook up the mushrooms.

Turn the oven on to 425 degrees F. to pre-heat at this point.

 

Sauteed chopped mushrooms with garlic and thyme

Melt half the butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Add the chopped mushrooms and garlic and cook in the butter for about 3 minutes.

Add the chopped fresh thyme leaves.

Potato shells with flesh scooped out for appetizer filling

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle cut each one in half. Now you want to be able to lay the potatoes on a flat surface so don’t cut them directly in the center where the potato is shortest.  Hold the spud so the pointier end is up and slice down through it. That way you’ll have a flatter surface on which to balance the potato shell.

Next scoop out the center of each potato half using a melon baller.  Put the scooped flesh into a mixing bowl. Now don’t scoop right down to the skin or your appetizers will fall apart. Leave enough flesh so the sides are well supported.

I line up the skins on a foil covered baking sheet, that I spray with a little oil.  Cheese will ooze everywhere when you cook these babies so the foil makes clean up a cinch.

Adding grated cheddar cheese to mashed potatoes

Mash all the potato flesh in the bowl, add the milk and the other half of the melted butter. 

Season with pepper and salt.  

Add about 2/3′s of the cheese, reserving the last third to sprinkle on top of the appetizers.

Mixing mushrooms and mashed potato for appetizer filling

Next add the cooked mushroom mixture and combine everything together.

Now you’re ready to reload those potato skins.

 

Halved cooked red potatoes with mashed potato and mushroom topping

I use my melon baller  once again, to refill the potato shells with this scrumptious mixture.

Topping potato bites with grated Irish cheddar cheese

Once they’re all loaded there’s one final step, and for me it’s the crucial step to ensure these little morsels are extra tasty.

Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top of each potato bite.

I like to use Kerrygold Dubliner cheese. It is a really sharp, white cheddar, but I love the extra tang it adds to these little bites.

Bake the appetizers in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

They’re ready when they cheese has melted and is turning a light golden brown.

If you prepare these appetizers ahead of time, and keep them refrigerated prior to cooking, they’ll require the full 20 minutes, maybe longer, to heat through.

Garnishing potato bites for St. Patrick's Day party.

Once they’re cooked I like to stand them on some paper towels to absorb any excess grease.  Let them cool slightly before garnishing.

Party Appetizers - Cheese and Mushroom Potato Bites

Serve these potato bites warm as party finger food, or they also make a lovely side for chops and steaks.

I hope you like these potato appetizes as much as I do.  They’re hard to photograph well. I don’t think these shots do them justice.

Trust me the hint of thyme with the mushrooms and creamy potato filling is simply scrummy.

Wishing you all perfect parties, with plenty easy finger foods, that can be prepared ahead of time.

Here’s the printable recipe:

 

Cheesy Mushroom Potato Bites

Serves 15
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Meal type Appetizer
Occasion Casual Party
Region Irish
Cheddar and mushroom potato bites are tasty little appetizers, that can even double up as a side dish. These versatile little morsels are perfect for parties, especially Irish themed celebrations.

Ingredients

  • 15 Small red potatoes
  • 8oz shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 4oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 8oz mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley (to garnish)

Directions

Step 1 Place the potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes for 20 minutes until tender.
Step 2 Drain the potato water and let the potatoes stand until cool enough to handle.
Step 3 Melt half the butter in a large skillet. Stir in the mushrooms and minced garlic. Sautée over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the chopped fresh thyme and turn off the heat.
Step 4 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Step 5 Cut each potato in half. Scoop out the center of each potato using a melon baller, collecting the potato in a bowl. Put the potato shells to the side.
Step 6 Melt the remaining butter in the microwave for 15 seconds. Add to the potatoes with the milk. Mash together. Season to taste. Add 2/3's of the cheese and all of the mushroom mixture. Combine well together.
Step 7 Place the potato skins on a foil lined baking sheet, sprayed with cooking oil. Spoon equal amounts of the filling into each shell. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top of each potato.
Step 8 Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The appetizers are ready when the cheese is melted and turning a light golden brown color.
Step 9 Cool the potato bites on paper towels. Garnish with parsley and serve warm.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

Introducing The Baltimore Irish Railroad Workers Museum Plus A DVD Giveaway

When the Irish arrived en masse to the United States in the late 1840′s, many settled in Southwest Baltimore City.  What made Baltimore, Maryland so appealing to immigrants was the hope of finding work on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad.

Front of the Baltimore Irish Railroad Workers' Museum

Their legacy is celebrated today at the Irish Railroad Workers Museum, an Irish American historic site in Baltimore. The museum officially opened on June 17th, 2002.

 

The Prize:

 

Today I’m delighted to sponsor a reader giveaway. The prize is a DVD, From Famine To Fortitude, produced by The Irish Railroad Workers Museum. It recounts the story of the Irish experience in Baltimore, and will appeal to history buffs, or Irish Americans with an interest in our ancestors’ journey.

Before I share the details of our giveaway, let me first tell you about my visit to this wonderful museum….

 

Celtic Cross at the Baltimore Irish Museum

An Irish Tourist’s Experience In Baltimore, Maryland:

 

Two years ago my family took an east coast summer trip to visit New York, Washington DC, and to see our favorite soccer team, Liverpool, play a friendly game in Baltimore.

While there, I sneaked in a quick visit to “The Irish Shrine”.  I should have remembered to leave my four kiddos with their Dad at the hotel. But being a good Irish American mom I thought I might introduce them to their heritage and possibly kindle within them a burning love of history.

 

An old washstand with pitcher and bowl

Bad move. I should have known my trio of then five year olds, and eight year old son, wouldn’t have the slightest scrap of interest in a museum, unless of course it was a Children’s Museum with flashing lights, knobs to twist, levers to pull, and a plethora of interactive activities.

 

What’s happening to the world?

 

Kids are addicted to playing gadgets. An overexposure to electronics is dulling their minds, so that unless they are bombarded with snippets of visual stimuli, they are unable to appreciate the depth of knowledge before them.  I’ll get off my soap box now, because let’s face it – that’s a topic for another day.

And to tell you the truth, I simply wasn’t thinking. My kids were just too young to really understand the wonderful experience offered at this quaint, little museum.

An old trunk as a bedside table

The reason it has taken me two years to share these photos is that they were just plain terrible. That is until now. I recently discovered the incredible power of photo editing, with lighting adjustments.

Little hands and fingers, heads and turned backs, which were ruining my shots have all been chopped and cropped. Bad lighting has been somewhat compensated for, and now I believe these photos are worthy of sharing, especially if they help spread the word about this urban, historical gem.

Dresses hanging on hooks at the Baltimore Irish Museum

This site consists of a group of 5 alley houses, originally the homes of Irish immigrants who worked for the adjoining railroad.  The museum is housed in two of these houses, at 918 and 920 Lemmon Street.   

A copper kettle on a stove - Copy

“The Irish Railroad Workers Museum

is part of a larger history-rich community,

unusual because it is still intact,

consisting of the places where the Irish lived,

worked, worshipped, and were buried.”

 

- Description from the Irish Railroad Workers Museum website

Wahsboards from days gone by

The homes in this historical district were slated for demolition back in 1997, but luckily a group of concerned citizens recognized these houses were not just bricks and mortar, but could be a surviving monument to the lives of the Irish who first called Baltimore home.

 

Victorian Shaving Time

Thanks to their efforts and dedication this historical district still stands today and includes the B&O Railroad Museum, St. Peter the Apostle Church, the Hollins Street Market, and St. Peter the Apostle Cemetery.

Baltimore Irish Railroad Workers Museum

This old chest of drawers is a treasure trove for anyone who enjoys a good immigrant tale. Within the drawers lie pictures of Irish men and women from days gone by. Each picture is linked to an audio recording, telling of that immigrant’s experience.

I could have spent hours listening to these stories, but alack and alas, it was not to be. I had listened to possibly two sentences of the first narration, when I had to interrupt with a gentle plea:

“Don’t touch that!”

 followed shortly afterwards by a louder motherly yell:

“Don’t break that.”

 

Statue of the Sacred Heart

My Irish accent bellowing from the top floor may have led visitors on the lower level to believe the place was haunted by an Irish motherly ghost from many moons ago.

Irish American Memorbilia at the Baltimore Irish American Museum

Speaking of the supernatural, look at the middle portrait of the three, poised on the old trunk. I can’t remember if this old black and white photo was so eerie looking in real life, or if this is some illusion from my camera.

Or perhaps, she is an Irish mother of old, whose spirit was stirred by my crew’s high jinx.  She was probably joining in my chorus, warning them not to lay a finger on anything.

 

An old outhouse - Copy

My kids didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to any of the beautiful memorabilia housed within the museum, until low and behold we went out to the small back yard.

 

And there it stood!

 

The highlight of our tour!

 

The one!

 

The only!

 

The OUTHOUSE!

 

The moment my kids laid eyes on this wooden cubicle, they were fascinated.  I was flabbergasted. It took an unexpected encounter, with a rest room from days gone by, to stir my little ones’ interest in the past.

 

“But what if it was raining?” they asked.

 

“They ran for it,” I explained.

 

“And what happened in the snow?”

 

“Rain, hail or shine, this was the loo.”

 

The outhouse was a conversation piece for the rest of our trip.

 

Reneactment of a game of cards in an old Irish pub in Baltimore, Maryland

I wish to extend my gratitude to the lovely gentleman who took us on our tour of this fabulous museum. I know I wrote your name on a little piece of paper, which got buried in the filing cabinet of my purse, never to be seen again.

Thank you for your patience, your kindness, and your wonderful lessons on the Irish American experience. I thoroughly enjoyed our chat.

And thanks for reassuring me, not to worry about my kiddos’ eagerness to keep moving on, and checking things out. You truly made our visit to The Irish Railroad Workers’ Museum a pleasure.

Above all, I appreciate the hours you volunteer to preserve the stories of our immigrant forefathers, who paved the way for us in this vast and amazing country.

Serving a drink at an old pub or shebeen

 The Giveaway:

 

While at the museum I purchased copies of the DVD From Famine To Fortitude: The Irish Experience in Baltimore.  This wonderfully researched documentary tells the story of Irish immigrants who left Ireland at the time of the Great Hunger to make a new life in America.

To enter our giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 at noon.  You can leave any comment you wish. What you write does not affect your chances of winning.

If you need some inspiration, why not tell us if you have visited any Irish American historical site in the US that commemorates our ancestors.

 

A winning comment will be chosen randomly.  Remember to leave your e-mail so I can contact you should you win.  Your e-mail will not be published or shared, just used to for contact purposes.

The winner will be announced on Saturday August 23rd, at the end of this post.  I’ll send the winner an e-mail so I can mail the prize.

Best of luck to all our entrants.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

Why Blogging Is Hard Work.

I have learned many lessons since I first started blogging way back in October 2011. First and foremost, I now know that blogging is hard work, and involves a lot more than just writing.

Screenshot of Blog Landing Page

1. Social Media and Marketing

 

You must write, and write plenty, but that’s just the beginning of a blogging journey. Nobody will stop by to read my brilliant, and sometimes not-so-brilliant words of wisdom, if I don’t let it be known I’m sharing my insights.

And how might I ask do I do that? Why social media and networking of course. The very words put the fear of God in me.

Yet over the past few years my website has come a long way. Thank you to all my Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest followers. This little blog would NOT be possible without YOU.

But as we spread the word about my writing, a never-ending cycle begins …..

 

The more you market and publicize ……

….. the more visitors come to my site.

 

The more visitors come to my site…..

…… the more server space I require.

 

The more server space required ……

……. the more money it costs.

 

The more money I don’t spend ……

……. the more my site crashes.

 

The more my site crashes……

……. the more visitors I lose.

 

And that’s where I must end this cycle. I don’t want to lose you, my readers.

If I don’t address problems, and sometimes throw money at them, all of my hard work could be for nothing.

 

2. Technical Glitches:

 

Now don’t worry, I’m an optimist not a pessimist, and I truly believe that for every problem there is a solution.

But in the interim …….

 

I’m never surprised when things go wrong.

 

I knew that at some point on my blogging journey, technical difficulties would inevitably raise their ugly little heads. Don’t forget I’m Irish, with an inherent respect for Murphy’s Law.  That’s when I want to curl up in a little ball and cry out:

 

“But I know nothing about computer programming.”

 

Faced with the dilemma of whether to give up, or move on, I always choose to try to master new skills.  Success is never guaranteed, teaching this old gal new tricks.

But, I’ve come too far to give up now, even if technical glitches try my patience.  For example take a look around at my beautifully blue site. 

I know!

Not very fitting for an Irish themed blog :)

But rest assured, I don’t particularly want blue backgrounds and fonts, but I completed a theme upgrade for my site and everything turned blue, including me. I’m trying hard to change it back to green. I won’t bore you with my trials and tribulations with plug-ins and widgets, but I know for sure, I’ll never earn my living as a WordPress programmer.

So while I’m working out how to go Irish green, bare with my blues.  I was born in Dublin, so I suppose I can claim to be a “true blue Dub.”

 

3. The Business of Blogging:

 

All of these challenges have taught me a valuable lesson.

 

Blogging can turn into a little business in the blink of an eye.

 

As a little blog baby grows and grows, who feeds it? A growing blog needs marketing support, technical back up, accounting, security, policies, artistic creation, socializing, business development, advertising ….. I could go on and on.

Blogging turned into a little business for me before I knew where I was, and guess who tries to fill all the business roles in my little company.   Yes!  That’s me, and half the time I haven’t a clue what I’m doing, just learning to fly by the seat of my pants.

Wordpress Dashboard

I started this blog for fun, but with increasing traffic I now need to pay for more server space, which means I need to do something to generate a little income, if I don’t want to totally raid my kids’ college funds.

Luckily, my little blog doesn’t need to generate income to feed my family. Phew! Right now it doesn’t even cover overheads, so we’d be starving if I was hoping to feed my hungry boys.

And so, when you see a few advertisements flashing away on the side bar of my site, please understand I’m just trying to keep the lights on.

Heart failure struck a few times, when I saw some wiggly, jiggly belly fat ads before my very eyes. Then to make matters worse, my mother reported some soccer betting ads were popping up on her side of the Atlantic, especially around the time of the World Cup.

I’m working with my advertising agencies, and fingers crossed all ads will be of a higher standard in future, but in the meantime, if a wobbly belly appears on your screen, I really do apologize.

 

4. Coping with Blog Anxiety:

 

My audience has started to grow, and I cannot thank you enough for visiting my little corner of the world wide web.But let me confess, that makes me feel a little nervous when I realize:

 

YIKES !!!!!  

Readers want to read MY STUFF!

 

When I work on a post for a few days, and time comes to hit the “publish” button on my blog, my stomach goes a little  queasy. I guess I worry that my ramblings may disappoint some of the wonderful readers who revisit my blog over and over again.

But then I think of what my granny would have said:

 

“Ah, just get over yourself!”

 

Believe me – my granny was a very straight-forward, no-nonsense kind of Irish gal. She milked over 60 cows on a daily basis. Now in the latter years she had a lovely milking parlor to make life “easy”, but she was milking cows right into her 70′s.  When we would fuss about homework, her motto was:

 

“Just clap it down, and get on with life!”

 

 

So guess what?  Granny’s advice wins out every time.  I do just as she would tell me, and get over myself.

No more worrying! No more anxiety! And if today’s post isn’t good enough, then hopefully tomorrow’s will be a little better.

 

Thanks to my Facebook Fans

But believe me, your heart warming comments and e-mails go a long way to keep me motivated. It’s lovely to read your two cents worth at the end of my ramblings. Your heartwarming words are what makes all this hard work so worthwhile.

 

THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

 

 

Beans On Toast – An Easy Lunchtime Staple For Irish Moms

Beans on toast featured regularly on my lunchtime menu as an Irish kid – a simple, nutritious meal I’m quite certain continues to be eaten regularly by many Irish and English children.

Beans on Toast

An American friend once asked me about Irish lunchtime menus. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the all-American, easy, lunchtime staple. No PB & J for me when I was growing up in Ireland. Even after spending over twenty years in the United States, I still don’t appreciate them.  I must confess I find it very hard to eat a peanut butter sandwich. The whole bread, jelly, and peanut butter combination is just too sticky for my Irish trained palate.

When posed with this Irish lunchtime inquiry I had to think for a minute before answering. What is the inexpensive, go-to lunch for Irish mothers? The answer I believe is beans on toast.

Now it’s not a menu item for school lunch boxes, but for midday meals served at home, beans on toast are just perfect.  In fact, beans on toast may be found on breakfast, lunch and dinner menus in many Irish or English homes, especially when budgets are tight.

Should I use a singular verb after beans on toast, or the plural form?  Beans on toast ‘is’ or should I type beans on toast “are”????  Not sure what the answer is, but I hope you’ll forgive any beany grammatical errors.

An Irish Lunch - Beans on Toast

Many Americans are probably saying “what’s the deal?”  For those whose palates are trained on spicy foods this meal may seem very bland. But let’s face it, we Irish think salt and pepper are spices, so beans on toast suit us perfectly.

And into the bargain they’re cheap and easy to store. A can of beans in the pantry and you’re set.

Furthermore, beans in red sauce are one of the most inexpensive forms of protein available to a busy mom, and preparation is a snap. (That “furthermore” is really making me sound like a bean aficionado.)

Here are my cooking instructions:

  • Heat some beans in a saucepan.
  • Toast a slice of bread.
  • Butter the toast if you wish.
  • Then pile the beans and sauce on top.

Some beans on toast connoisseurs forego the butter, but I find a slice of thick white toast spread with Kerrygold butter is a perfect bean base.  The salty butter adds a lovely complimentary flavor to the beans.

Fried Egg with Beans on Toast

To beef the beans up for dinner, a poached or fried egg can be served right on top. I suppose beefing them up is the wrong word when using an egg, but you know what I mean.

I hope you like how over cooked that fried egg is by American standards, but that’s how they turn out when fried Irish style. No sunny sides up or over easys for an Irish cook.

Another option is to top them off with a slice of grilled or fried tomato, and two slices of bacon or rashers as we say in Ireland. Yummy! Yummy! Yummy!

I knew someone who liked to spread Marmite on their toast, before topping it off with beans. Marmite is a dark brown, salty, savory spread made from yeast extract. Not for me, but everyone adds their own little touches to make their beans on toast special.

Finely diced onion can be caramelized in a pan before adding the beans for heating. A dash of Worcestershire sauce and mustard kick the flavor up a notch.  I suppose these steps bring the beans a little closer to American BBQ beans.

A slice of cheese, grilled to melting point on the toast, is delicious hidden beneath the beans. My mouth is now watering thinking about bland old beans on toast.

As children we loved to drink a cold glass of milk with our beans, but as I grew older I replaced the milk with a nice cup of hot tea with a little dash of milk. Again, most Americans are probably aghast at this menu combination. But the plain old fact is, I have Irish taste buds.

English Lunch - Beans on Toast

Here in America I buy vegetarian beans. No pork and beans in this house. I’m not fond of a piece of  pork rind floating in my beans as they heat. A can of vegetarian beans reminds me of Irish beans the most.  Luckily, my local supermarket stocks Heinz vegetarian beans.

The brand of choice when I was growing up in Ireland was Bachelor’s beans. Their advertising logo consisted of two little men singing to their hearts’ content:

“Bachelors! Bachelors!”

 

Anyone remember them?

 

I’d say there were, and probably still are, many Irish bachelors whose cooking repertoires consist of beans on toast; no more; no less.  The after affects of said beans may be one of the reasons for the aforementioned state of  bachelorhood.     :)

Wishing you all happy and easy lunchtimes.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

The Irish – A Superstitious Race

Ireland is a land of superstitions. Take it from me. I grew up surrounded by these superstitions. Pheasant feathers or lilac were never to be brought into my granny’s house.

God forbid a robin landed on a window sill and flew indoors – he bore the news of imminent death. When visiting a house for the first time, we had to leave by the same door we entered.  I could go on and on.

The Irish - A Superstitious Race

 

Although most Irish people today probably don’t believe in many of these superstitions, our Irish psyche holds a healthy respect for them. Abiding by the rules of ancient Irish life comes naturally to many of us. We adhere to an unwritten mythical code out of pure habit, automatically reenacting behavioral patterns learned in our childhood years.

As I thought about Irish superstitions I was taught as a child I asked myself an inevitable question:

 

Why are the Irish so superstitious?

 

In today’s post I hope to explore some of the reasons why I believe the Irish seem to be consumed by irrational fears and beliefs. Listing all of our crazy superstitions is a job for another day, and probably fodder for a whole collection of blog posts, so instead let’s try to focus on the great big why surrounding Celtic faith in the supernatural.

 

What is a superstition?

 

Superstitions are beliefs based on myth, magic, or irrational thoughts, that are not based upon reason and knowledge.  Superstitions are intrinsically tied to traditional folklore, and let’s face it, Ireland is a country steeped in legends and myths with a vast array of characters from faeries to changelings, to wily leprechauns.

 

Two for Joy - Irish Magpies

Two for Joy

 Image Credit

The origins of superstitions:

 

The exact origins of many old superstitions may never by known, but they do appear to be an odd mixture of paganism, Christianity, and folklore, and deeply influenced by social history.

Human nature is such that we always search for a cause for things we cannot understand. That desire to figure things out is the root of all scientific progress, but on our journey in search of answers, many wrong conclusions have been reached.

When searching for a reason for things beyond their comprehension our ancestors explained situations as best they could, albeit their answers were steeped in mythical origins. The wrong answer was deemed better, than no answer at all.

 

Coincidence or a greater force at work?

 

Sometimes unhappy coincidences reoccurred frequently enough for a blind link to be acknowledged, and a superstition to become enshrined in the general belief system of a community.

Irish superstitions are ultimately concerned with addressing the helplessness of the human condition. In times of trouble, and there were plenty such times for the Irish in centuries past, our ancestors turned to old superstitions which may or may not have helped them at all.

This blind faith in haphazard cures and beliefs probably brought comfort and hope to those who felt helpless.  Whether the warding off of ill luck was real or imagined, at least reassurance lay in attempting to control these evils.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maeve%26druid.jpg

Queen Meave and the Druid from The Boy’s Cuchulainn by Eleanor Hull 1904

 Image Credit

 

Enduring legacy of superstitions from the time of the druids:

 

Ireland remained under the influence of Druidic teachings far longer than any other European nation. This can be attributed to the island’s remoteness on the western edge of the continent, and its freedom from Roman conquest. When early missionaries converted the Irish to Christianity they did so with minimal conflict, adopting a creed of tolerance for the old way of life.

No persecutions are recorded. Rather than destroying sites of ancient worship, the new church transformed them into shrines of prayer and centers of worship by associating them with a saint.  This policy of tolerance for old Druidic superstitions may account for their survival.

The Irish have clung to the ancient customs of their forefathers for thousands of years. An enduring belief in a fairy race may be traced back to the time of the druids.

 

Irish Robin On A Planter

The Penal Laws:

 

The Penal Laws were statutes passed by the English parliament to penalize the Irish for their Catholicism. First written in 1695, the Irish suffered their consequences for more than 100 years.

A number of these laws excluded Catholics from working in any field of scientific study, thereby limiting our ability to rationalize some of these old beliefs. Irish Catholic children were forbidden to attend school.

Scholars and poets taught young Irish people in clandestine hedgerow schools, with curricular emphasis placed upon passing the legends and myths of ancient Celtic culture to the next generation. Irish belief in the supernatural was thereby strengthened.

The Penal Laws were enacted because Catholics were deemed to be superstitious and idolatrous by their Anglican rulers. I believe the Irish solidified their superstitious practices out of pure stubbornness, and in direct defiance of the laws designed to curtail them. If you tell an Irishman he cannot do something, then rest assured he will die doing it.

 

Are the Irish more superstitious than other cultures?

 

William Butler Yeats, the most famous of all Irish poets, recognized that the Irish were more superstitious than other races. He wrote:

 

“…. for everyone is a visionary, if you scratch him deep enough.

But the Celt, unlike any other, is a visionary without scratching.”

-W.B. Yeats

 

He also observed the peculiar, contradictory belief system of an old woman he met in the west of Ireland.

 

“One woman told me last Christmas that

she did not believe either in hell or in ghosts.

Hell she thought was merely an invention

got up by the priest to keep people good;

and ghosts would not be permitted, she held,

to go ‘trapsin about the earth’ at their own free will;

‘but there are faeries,’ she added,

‘and little leprechauns, and water-horses, and fallen angels.’”

- W. B. Yeats

 

http://www.irishamericanmom.com/2013/08/24/a-full-moon-over-dublin-bay/

 

Why do superstitions live on?

 

In light of all the scientific evidence that exists today to debunk these superstitions, why do old Irish superstitions live on? I don’t think there is a person alive with a drop of Celtic blood who can categorically deny they harbor an innate respect for some old wive’s tale.  Well, perhaps we don’t truly believe in all those omens of bad luck, but at the same time we wouldn’t dare change the original name of a boat, nor move house on a Saturday.

I think this adherence to an old superstitious code comes from a reverence for the past. We recognize that these old beliefs have been handed down to us from many generations that have gone before us. By sticking to their old code of mythical behavior, we acknowledge their legacy, and let the spirits know we understand the influences that helped shape their lives.

Because God between us and all harm, who knows what might happen if we blatantly went around the place ignoring flocks of magpies desperately trying to let us know if any luck might be in store for us.

 

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom