The Skinny on the Full Irish and my own Patrick’s Day

With Patrick’s Day just around the corner it’s time to clear up the meaning of Full Irish, and it’s not what you thought in the first place! Full Irish means a hefty breakfast taken on an empty stomach the morning after a bout of drinking (ok, I only ate this twice, both times suffering a momentous hangover after agreeing to drink several pints of Guinness and God knows how many shots of Jameson. But that wasn’t the coup de grace: both times I was handed a glass of poitin and that made me kiss the floor, literally, twice) but I digress: this local delicacy comprises, roughly, 3 sausages, 2 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, 2 slices of white pudding and 2 slices of black pudding, and this should come with at least 4 slices of toast and a dreadful glass of concentrated orange juice. And 2 tablets of aspirin, if the owner of the B&B has some pity about your state. Note that in some places you might also get a side dish of fried potatoes to mop up the excess alcohol lingering in your blood.

Now for my story, which I’m fond to repost here and have probably reposted several times on various blogs ad nauseam: ever since I was a little boy I was convinced that Patrick’s Day was made exclusively for me. That notion somewhat changed around turning 9 or 10, having then realized the hard truth that there were more people named as I was, Patrick, and that the earth was also round, among other things. Not one to give up on lucky coincidences, I made it my own day nevertheless. Still do. As a very young kid I never enjoyed what I perceived as forced celebrations: Christmas, Easter and even birthdays. It made me uncomfortable – this uncouth attitude may have resulted from the fact that my mother had rejected me, aged 2 and a half, after my father left the coop. I was bounced around from unfeeling relatives to reluctant ones for some 4 years before my great grandmother got wind of this and put a stop to it. I arrived in style in the back of her Citroen, on a sunny afternoon at the family hotel, the one that I still call “Hotel de Dream” in my heart, and was promptly put under the care of one of my young aunt, a wonderful human being who had just turned eighteen and who, unselfishly, devoted the next 7 years to a taciturn kid.


My life changed. My great grandmother gave me a grounded education, taught me Provencal lore and her cooking secrets among many other things.

I became a bookworm and read about the Irish and their struggles, their love of green shades and their involvement in all the major wars of the last three or four centuries. The fighting Irish were present in the US civil war, the Mexican war, the Columbian and Peruvian independence wars, the Napoleonic wars (though some units fought alongside the British in Waterloo), the Crimean debacle, WW1 etc…I took to wear green socks only because I had read that the rebellious Irish wore them as a sign of defiance, right under the nose of their English overlords. Defiance made me stronger, it gave me a raison d’être, a will to succeed.

By an extraordinary twist of fate I ended up in Eire after a peripatetic life, spent on four continents, and met up with another lost soul, aptly in a pub, sharing pints and shorts, and a tumultuous past. We now have three gorgeous daughters. We are happy. We fought and we won. On Patrick’s Day after work (yes, nothing is sacred) I go home with the makings of Black Velvets (Guinness and sparkling white) and celebrate our day with my girls, wearing my green socks.

This entry was posted in Food, Fun, History, Memoirs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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