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Irish Heritage Ideas & Traditions by Erin

by Erin, posted to Parenting

Now that I am 3 generations from Ireland, I need to do a little more work to keep up some Irish traditions. This includes things for St. Patrick's day and all year round! I want my kids to know about their Irish heritage and things that were so important to their grandparents. In preparation for ... More »

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TRADITION: Luck and Potatoes Game

I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and my childhood home was near a...more

Suggested by Eden Godsoe

I saw this on the blog "Kate: Normal Girl" and thought it was a fun addition to your list. She describes it like an Easter egg hunt but the parents hide potatoes instead of eggs (actually the leprechauns turn the rocks into potatoes.) Later they make St. Patrick’s Day Potato Soup. How fun!

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Traditional Irish Breakfast

A Great Irish Breakfast treat that comes with all the side orders that...more

Suggested by Courtney K.

My mom is from Ireland and my favorite thing she would do was make an Irish Breakfast on St. Paddie's day and also a few times throughout of the year. It's a full breakfast, heavy, rich, and not for one on a diet but this is very traditional and something fun to do every once and a while.

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TRADITION: To Catch a Leprechaun

Three clever traps for taking a stand against leprechauns' St....more

(suggestion from Christy Ryan Swildens) If you have ever fallen victim to leprechaun-related mischief around St. Patrick's Day, then you and your children may want to get creative and build a trap!

Eden Godsoe: My kids are very into Leprechauns and build all sorts of traps to catch them. You can also use Leprechauns as a scapegoat if you want to throw out (or eat) some of the kids' candy.

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BOOK ON TAPE: Celtic Treasures

Ancient stories of bards and warriors told with passion and...more

Great stories (ages 6 and up) to listen to in the car. Listeners are carried away to a time that may have existed only in the imagination of the bards, but which lives on today in an oral tradition that will not let it die. From Angus' Dream to Finn MacCoul and the Battle for Tara...

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This magical story will set Irish eyes a-smiling! The happy Irish...more

The kids love this story and we have read it many, many times. Plus it is written by a family member, Michael Garland, so you know it's good :)

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MUSIC: The Chieftans

More than 40 years on, the Chieftains are still the world's nonpareil...more

The Essential Chieftains is a amazing two-disc collection spanning four decades of music. Samples from disc 2 include recordings with the Corrs, Van Morrison, Bela Fleck, Sinead O'Connor, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Emmylou Harris, Linda Rondstadt, Los Lobos, Sting, Elvis Costello and the Rankins. The Chieftains' ability to find the common ground between various styles and cultural traditions is nothing short of remarkable.

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MOVIE: Into the West

Set mainly in the Ireland the tourist board didn't tell you about,...more

Touches on the legend of Tir ne nog. The two boys escape the projects on an apparently magical white horse, Tir Na Nog. For better or for worse--mainly better--this is not the story Disney would have told. Won best family video for 1994.

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TRADITION: Host the Ultimate St. Patty's Day Party

Celebrate the Luck of the Irish with all things green and some festive...more

Great ideas!

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TRADITIONS: Fly Your Colors

Irish Flag: 3 x 5 ft Polyester flag with 2 brass grommets.

Fly the Irish flag - especially in March.

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MOVIE: The Quiet Man

Haunted by an incident that happened in the ring, American boxer Sean...more

(Recommended by Peggy Garland & Owen McBride). This was an important and personal project for John Ford (whose real name was Sean O'Feeney). That his heart and those of his cast members were in what they were doing shows through. The fact that much of the film was shot on location in Ireland (on location shoots were somewhat unusual at the time) also adds an authentic flavor.

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MUSIC: Long Journey Home Soundrack (1998 Television Mini-series)

Sissel, Irish Film Orchestra, Van Morrison, The Chieftains, Sinead...more

(Suggested by Peggy Garland). This is thought to be one of the best Celtic albums ever. Like most Irish music, it reflects the beauty and heart of the Irish homeland, but what makes this album especially unique is that it also depicts the feelings of the Irish in America for their homeland. Each of these songs are really good and bring the heart of Ireland to America.

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TRADITION: Find a St. Patrick's Day Parade

Use google to find a parade near you.

(suggestion from David Moss) One thing my kids love to do is walk in The St Patrick's Day parade. They go to a school in Huntington N.Y. and have the option of walking in the parade to represent their school. Our town puts on an annual parade for many years now that attracts over ten thousand people.The walk of about 2 1/2 miles is awesome. As you get closer and closer to the center of town with the crowd roaring it becomes an unbelievable experience. If people can get themselves into a popular parade they

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TRADITION: Teach the History of St. Patrick's Day

Do a quick web search so that you can teach your kids (and remind yourself!) of the history of St. Patrick's Day.

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TRADITION: Tell Stories

Have Irish relatives, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends tell stories about their own traditions or funny or interesting things that happened to them. The kids seem to especially love stories that involve trouble, love or injury.

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TRADITION: St. Patrick's Day Gift Exchange

The Irish should get pampered, showered and adored with gifts on a...more

(suggestion from Peggy Garland) Why not do a very low key family gift exchange. Keep it simple, but just a little something to set the day apart.

Hello Ladies: We prefer Brigid to Patrick’s-day/

Erin: Love it!

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GO: Vacation in Ireland

Official Website of Tourism Ireland for visitors to Ireland....more

Go!! Visit this beautiful country, bring the kids!

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SHOP: Check out your local Irish shop

Such as the Irish Castle Gift Shop in San Francisco (on Geary) or just...more

This is the shop to go to for many things. T-shirts. Celtic wall hangings. Rugby shirts. Haberdasher hats. Celtic jewelry. Throws. Clan tartans. Soda bread mix in a bag in addition to a small variety of eats from Ireland. I remember purchasing a Guinness poster for one of my good friends years ago and saw the same plastered on a sweatshirt.

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SHOP: Find some Irish jewelry for yourself, family member or friend


Celtic Irish Jewelry and Gifts featuring shamrocks, four leaf clovers,...more


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BOOK (CHILDREN): Magic Tree House #43: Leprechaun in Late Winter

The bestselling, fan-favorite chapter-book series sends Jack and Annie...more

This is a great series for kids ages 5-8 and this one is about a long ago Ireland.

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BOOK (CHILDREN): A Pot o' Gold: A Treasury of Irish Stories, Poetry, Folklore, and (of Course) Blarney

Though it may only be a small emerald isle in the middle of the sea,...more

These stories are short and fun to read to the kids before bed.

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BOOK: Ireland: A Terrible Beauty

It is an excellent photographic journal -- Jill did the photography,...more

(recommended by Peggy Allen) Published in 1978, this picture essay captures an Ireland that was still on the margins of Europe, a fly in the amber, that had not quite shaken off the Nineteenth Century.

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BOOK: The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens

The book centers on a young 19th-century Irishman, Fergus O'Brien, who...more

(reommended by Brian McDermott) Definitely look at this novel written by Peter Behrens. It was published in 2006 and won the Governor General’s Award in Canada. It is a wonderfully written novel. As the dust jacket puts it: “the story of a young man’s Homeric passage from innocence to experience during the height of the Great Famine in Ireland, in 1847. Plus Peter (the author) is our 3rd cousin and a wonderful man.

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BOOK: The O'Briens: A Novel by Peter Behrens (release date Mar 6, 2012)

The setting opens in in the wild and rugged bush country of Pontiac...more

(recommended by Brian McDermott) Don't miss his new book!

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BOOK (FAMILY): Celtic Myths and Legends

This is an enchantingly told collection of the stirring sagas of gods...more

Easy to read.

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POETRY: Opened Ground: Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney

In the 1970s, Heaney began to write more directly about the Irish...more

(suggestion from Leo O'Donnovan). I'd be sure to add to your list a book or two by the poet (and Nobel Prize Winner) Seamus Heaney. Maybe one of his earlier volumes. At the very least, his wonderful early poem "Digging," in which he compares his father working the soil and his working with a pen.

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MOVIE (KIDS): The Secret of Kells

Magic, fantasy, and Celtic mythology come together in a riot of color...more

This movie won several awards and takes place in a remote medieval outpost of Ireland. Be warned - it's a little scary for younger viewers (under 6 or 7) and I personally found it to be a little trippy. But cool story and the kids now have an understanding about the Book of Kells.

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MOVIE: Michael Collins

(suggested by Peggy Allen) ...both my parents were born in Ireland and my father had first hand knowledge of “the troubles”...the movie “ Michael Collins” tells the story of one mans experience during negotiations with the English for a united Ireland...

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BEVERAGE: Barrys Tea

Since its founding in Cork, Ireland, in 1901 Barry's Tea has been...more

Good stuff.

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BEVERAGE: Jameson Irish Whiskey

Jameson Irish Whiskey is distilled three times to deliver exceptional...more

This tradition began in 1780 with the Great Master Distiller John Jameson and is still good today.

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Concern Worldwide is an Irish-founded charity that works with the...more

Recommended by Peggy Garland, who says they are active in the 40 poorest nations and we have been supporters for years. In our Kris Kringling we have "purchased" chickens, pigs, goats etc. for family members, for a gift that keeps on giving.

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