St. Patrick's Day
By Marshall McCart
~from the March 2011 issue of About Covington to Madison~
everybody! Hope all is well out there. As I write this column, we find
ourselves in the third week of some wonderfully warm and spring-like
weather. It’s been great. It’s hard to believe that we’re already having
to put a “3” in the date section of our checks, isn’t it? And as March
comes, so does St. Patrick’s Day—one of my favorite celebrations.
old saying is that everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m actually
part Irish so I have somewhat of a vested interest in this celebration.
As far as I’ve been able to gather,
my great, great, great, great-grandfather, James McCart, was the one
who traveled from the Mother Country to the States. It was his son and
my 3rd great-grandfather, William Marion McCart Sr., who
brought his clan to the Covington area in the mid 1800’s by way of
Abbeville , SC and Lavonia , GA. But that is another tale for another time; one that I plan to write about in a future column.
So, what is St. Patrick’s Day exactly? It’s the celebration of St. Patrick, a 5th
century A.D. Christian missionary who spread the good word and “cast
out the serpents” from Ireland. The serpent bit is not literal or
factual as it is believed that post-ice age Ireland never had any
snakes. The serpents are more likely a symbol of the pre-Christian
paganism and heathenism that gripped Ireland prior to Patrick’s arrival.
More specifically, the Druids were the primary religious force in
Celtic Ireland during this time. The Druids also acted as judges, teachers, and historians. They were also, unfortunately, the ones who carried out the sacrifices.
brings me to another family tie-in (sort of)—one of the last “High
Kings” of pre-Christian Ireland was one Cormac Mac Airt (McCart), whom
some McCarts are thought to be descended from. Cormac’s legend is
but it is thought to be at least partially rooted in fact. Cormac was
prone to magic and received counsel from the Druids and met his demise
by choking on a salmon bone after several years of rule. I’ve thought
about trying to go to Ireland to retain the family’s rightful throne,
but I don’t think the folks over there would be too impressed. But I
Patrick, by all accounts, was a great man and almost single-handedly turned a pagan society into a Christian
one. The celebration enjoys much interest in the cities and areas of
our country that traditionally have had a lot of Irish immigrants.
Boston , New York , Chicago , and other cities have large parades, green
rivers, and lots of other festivities. Good ole Savannah , GA is known
as one the best destination locations for those wanting to celebrate St. Patrick in the South. And as a quick aside, it’s not St. Patty’s Day—it’s St. Patrick’s Day!
But perhaps the best part
of this holiday, for me personally, is that it is a perfect opportunity
to fix one of my all-time favorite meals—Corned Beef, Potatoes, &
Cabbage. I’ve been told by a few folks that I make the best they’ve ever
had, so I thought I’d share my recipe with y'all.
yourself a corned beef brisket at the store. It will come with some
seasonings. Get yourself a bag of new potatoes, 2 medium onions, and a
head of cabbage. Some say you have to use carrots to make it a truly
Irish dish, but I disagree. I love carrots in a pot roast, but not for
I like to do mine in a Crock-Pot. Put it on high and fill
it a little under halfway with water and add 6 oz. of Harp Lager and 2
shots of Irish Whiskey and throw in your brisket with the seasonings it
came with. Then either quarter, third, or halve your potatoes (depending
on how big they are) and throw them in. I’ll usually use 10-12 smaller
ones or 6-8 larger ones. Add some of salt and pepper and let it cook for
about an hour. Then cut up your onion and put that in with a touch more
whiskey and beer (about a shot of the former & approx. 4 oz of the
latter. Turn it to low and let it cook during the day while you’re at
work. Then about an hour before you’re ready to eat, cut up your cabbage
and put it in and add a touch more whiskey, beer, salt, and pepper. An
hour later, and you're ready to eat. You can also do it in the oven at
350. Do the brisket and potatoes for an hour; then the onions for an
hour; and then the cabbage for an hour.
ready to serve, remember to cut the meat against the grain. If you're
industrious, you can Google the recipe for Irish Soda Bread to go with
the meal. I just use loaf bread. In terms of drink, I like to accompany
my meal with Bushmills, either neat or on the rocks, and a nice “Half
& Half.”—never to be confused with its more popular cousin, the
“Black & Tan”, a ½ & ½ is created by pouring a half glass of
Harp Lager and topping it with an equal amount of Guinness Stout.
Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody! And remember to wear something green or you just might get pinched by a rogue Leprechaun!