The Irish are a proud lot, full passion for their heritage. Irish-Americans are two-fold! As immigrants, the Irish were not received so well at first in America; however, most found a way forward from the strife, famine and poverty they were escaping in their homeland. America offered a better way of life. The Irish have contributed significantly to the shaping of America as a modern nation from presidents to manufacturing workers and farmers, from writers and artists to business leaders. Irish-Americans fulfilled the dream.
The Fourth of July is an opportunity not to only celebrate the birth of a nation for liberty and freedom, but what it represents as a melting pot. And, after all, both Americans and the Irish have a history with the acquiring independence from the British! Typically, it is a summer barbecue in the backyard or rooftop, and along with the red, white & blue, a little bit of green exhibits the spirit of being American, Irish-American.
JUST ADD GUINNESS
Let’s start with the black stuff. Guinness is emblematic of Irish and can be a part of an Independence Day fête in various ways. A dark stout is a tasty basis for a sweet, spicy and peppery barbecue sauce. By combining a couple cups with dark mustard, ketchup, hot sauce, honey and spices such as anise and fresh ground pepper this favorite beverage into a rich and flavorful sauce for burgers, steaks, pork and lamb. For ribs, a similar concoction of two bottles of Guinness, ketchup, barbeque sauce, honey, hot peppers, and garlic powder makes a tasty chipotle sauce. Arthur Guinness would be delighted by the culinary potency his invention, I’m sure. And, of course, all should be accompanied by a pint, or more. Beers and bbq are excellent partners! For full thematic flair to round out the party, Guinness makes an array of glasses, tankards, aprons, oven mitts, coasters, bottle cap catchers, and a range of barware, with both nostalgic and modern looks, and all available at Shamrockgift.com. The iconic emblem, the harp, is prominently represented on many items as well as styles of bright green.
REPLACE THAT BOURBON WITH IRISH WHISKEY
A dark ale is not the only elixir for a kickin barbecue sauce. Irish Whiskey makes for a fine choice and a delicious, tangy and smoky infuser for meats. Simmer onions and garlic in the whiskey (in this scenario Irish or Bourbon) and combine with ketchup, tomato paste, liquid smoke (or smoking chips in the grill), worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, ground pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Serve with good Irish or Bourbon whiskey, such as Bushmills. Keep a jug at the table for serving the rounds and shot glasses handy. A terrific summer cocktail is an Old fashioned. Not too sweet, not too harsh, and with mulled oranges, this classic on ice is refreshing and simple. Slánte!
July weather is too balmy for wooly sweaters, but not for the Woolies. Ireland’s reputation for quality woolen knitted and woven garments and home goods is well established. From the chunky fisherman’s sweaters of the Aran Islands to the traditional and superbly crafted blankets and rugs, wool products are an important industry and export for Ireland as well as a cultural symbol. Sheep are, of course, a significant element in the production. The adorable creatures serve us well to produce the natural fibers, and zwartbles, the black sheep of Ireland, provide the naturally dark hue. Thus, the Woolies were rendered, the adorable and wacky cartoon characters. Their endearing silliness and u-shaped smiles are uplifting, and although not so obvious as a cultural icon, they are, however, vibrant modern imagery for a distinct aspect of Irish heritage. The Woolies have been applied to numerous and eclectic selection of goods. Family favorites, but not just for kids, the aprons, oven mitts, spoon rests, and tea towels can be at hand when cooking at the grill. Mugs, water bottles and plastic cups are also great for summer outdoor festivities.
Cartoon characters are a lighthearted approach to represent elements of culture. Albeit, not so highbrow, the cheeky figures are a apt departure for casual entertaining when the good porcelain and wines glasses stay in the cabinets. Who doesn’t pause for a chuckle when taking a sip or gulp from a shot glass with Paddy, the sweet teddy bear donning the quintessential Irish top hat in green. Paired with shamrocks, Paddy Bear sweetly cheers for Ireland, and not to mention on tea towels, spoon rests and mugs to complete the set. Leprechauns, the most recognizable and iconic of Irish folk characters, are likely the most common personification of Irishness. They first emerged in the thirteenth century as red-bearded, pixie-like and mischievous mythological beings of the Aos Sí lore. They were cobblers and typically very solitary creatures inhabiting woods, moors, gardens, and caves. They are well known for fiercely protecting their pot of gold hidden at the end of a rainbow, and often grant wishes like a genie. At times, Leprechauns are depicted as insolent or down right mean as tricksters; they are also shown as endearing and fun-loving. A contemporary version of the leprechaun is with the colorful and friendly McMurfy with the quintessential green buckled hat. Shamrockgift.com’s got your potholders and mitts, mugs, and spoon rest for the Fourth of July bash.
Often associated with the Irish is luck. The old saying “the luck of the Irish” is one of an American origin. According to historian Edward T. O’Donnell, the phrase came from the gold and silver mining rush years of the latter nineteenth century in the American West. Many of the successful miners were Irish. Of course, there was more to it than luck; hard work, skill, and determination made for their discoveries and thus good fortune. Four-leaf clovers often represent luck, and particularly for the Irish. It is said that St. Patrick used the common three-leaf clover, or shamrock (from the Irish seamróg), as a metaphor when teaching the concept of the Holy Trinity; the Emerald Island had an abundance of these green flora. A four-leaf clover exists in about one in every ten thousand. Rarified indeed, and so these scarce clovers represent faith, love, hope, and luck. The notion of luck is infused into other words and one curious term is potluck. The original meaning is a meal that has no particular effort in preparation for guests. It’s the luck of what is in the pot! And it possesses striking similarity to potlatch, the word for a feast–specifically a gift-giving one–deriving from Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps a potluck along with grilling is an appropriate way to celebrate a coming together and being American.
Shamrocks are perhaps the most ubiquitous and emblematic of motifs representing Irishness along with ancient Celtic motifs. Irish-themed souvenirs and gifts frequently incorporate a shamrock. An Irish-American Independence Day bash requires a shamrock somewhere, right? With a little Irish coffee to start the day’s activity perhaps? And to be followed by an etched glass vessel for a toast?
IRISH CONNECTIONS TO JULY FOURTH
Although, the Fourth of July is a time for summer fun, fireworks, and grilling, all should keep in mind the nature of the celebration. Several Irish leaders contributed to the American Revolution and the newly liberated United States. Three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were natives of Ireland including Matthew Thornton who became a member of the Continental Congress of 1776, and George Taylor who served as a member of the Committee of Correspondence. John Barry from co. Wexford established and led the U.S. Navy during the revolution beating the famed British Navy in several battles. James Hoban, the architect for the White House was born in co. Kilkenny, Ireland. He successfully interpreted the Georgian idiom for a new America Federal style and patterned our President’s residence after Leinster House in Dublin, home to the Ireland’s parliament. And of course several U.S. presidents are of Irish heritage. Both Andrew Jackson’s and James Buchanan’s parents were Irish émigrés. And undoubtedly, the most notable president to embrace and honor his Celtic background was John F. Kennedy.
Irish and American are two sides of one coin. The Fourth of July is a day to reckon the manifestation of the ideals of the American Revolution as well as toast to its endurance as a democracy. Many Irish left their homes for the promise of a better life for themselves and their descendents in a new land and with a young nation. The Irish eventually thrived in American and made their mark within the evolution of the United States. Bring on the fireworks and barbecue!
How do you plan to celebrate the Fourth of July? Let us know in the comments below!