In traditional Irish music, a “set” is a group of three tunes each played three times. If you go to any of our sessions, you’ll hear lots of sets. Playing on this theme last year, I put together a “set” of ideas that would add a bit of Irish to your holiday celebrations and it was a big hit. To see last year’s ideas click here. And now for this year’s Irish Christmas Set:
Irish Christmas Recipes
Delicious aromas from the kitchen are part of everyone’s festivities, so let’s start with a “tune” of three recipes. (Click the titles on each recipe below to go to the complete directions.)
For adventurous cooks willing to make mincemeat from scratch, here’s the recipe straight from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe House website. It’s interesting to see what ingredients are in it. But if it’s too daunting to make your own, you can buy it in jars at most grocery stores and from Food Ireland.
Festive Brussels Sprouts
Americans tend to shun Brussels sprouts any time of year, but done well, they can be delicious. And they are very commonly found on an Irish table at Christmas time. Here’s a recipe that could make this particular vegetable a new holiday favorite for you.
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur
Bailey’s Irish Cream alone or over ice cream makes an easy dessert. You can buy a bottle from your local liquor store or make your own a bit less expensively with this recipe.
Speaking of dessert, in last year’s Christmas post I mentioned Irish Plum Pudding. And this year I can report to you that I bought one and served it flambé. You can see photos of that adventure here.
Irish Christmas Gifts
For our second "tune," let’s go gift shopping. What can you wrap up for your Hibernophile friend who has everything? Here are three ideas.
Irish History Podcast Pins
These badges from the Irish History Podcast celebrate people who played significant roles in the story of Ireland’s past. Purchasing them also helps support a dedicated Irishman’s extremely well-researched and interesting podcast.
Inis Energy of the Sea has become my favorite perfume this year. Based in Co. Wicklow, this small company not only makes a refreshing scent, but also sponsors whale and dolphin conservation programs. It’s available at many local shops, so you can also support local businesses. There’s a store locator on their website.
Lennon's Irish Shop
Lennon's of Schenectady offers a myriad of Celtic gift items in their shop and extensive online store. As longtime vendors at the Great American Irish Festival, they generously donated items for drawings and prizes. Last summer they supplied the prize for our trivia contest.
And as a bonus, a little shameless self-promotion: Craobh Dugan’s music on CDs and digital downloads would make a nice gift. You can buy our Irish and the Erie CD from CD Baby. Or you can buy them directly from Craobh Dugan at our sessions. CDs are $15 (only $10 for Craobh Dugan members) and digital download cards are $10.
Irish Christmas Music
And finally, our third "tune" actually involves music. Here are three selections to add to your holiday playlists. Click the titles to acquire them through Amazon.com, or in the case of the last one, through CD Baby. You may also be able to find the albums, or tunes from them, on your favorite music app like Spotify or iTunes.
The Night Before a Celtic Christmas
Famed tin whistle player Mary Bergin and her band known as Dordán recorded this truly traditional mix of poetry, song, and traditional music for Christmas in 1998.
The Frost is All Over
Irish Central called this album by Kate Rusby “traditional and innovative, historical and modern, and one of a kind.” Here's a sample to listen to:
A Celtic Christmas
Celtic and Irish Music Podcast host Marc Gunn put this compilation album together. Seems like you can’t beat a playlist assembled by an expert like Marc. You can also subscribe to his Christmas music podcast on your favorite podcast app.
I hope you found something in this set of three threes that you can blend into your holiday celebration this year. If this article has made you think of some of your own special finds, please share them in the comments and we’ll include them in our Christmas set next year.
If you’re planning a traditional Irish Christmas menu, there’s one item you can’t do without: the Christmas pudding. And there are two ways to acquire one. You can make it from scratch by assembling 26 ingredients six to eight weeks before Christmas, steaming it for several hours, and letting it cure for weeks. Or you can order one on Amazon. Maybe some year, I’ll try the former, with this recipe from the Irish American Mom blog. But last year, and as I’m planning to do this year, I ordered a Mileeven Luxury Irish Christmas Pudding.
Based in Co. Kilkenny, Mileeven is a small honey business run by Eilis Gough and her daughter Sarah. The pudding they make is deliciously rich, dense, and sweet, filled with cherries and almonds, Irish stout and whiskey.
When I found the recipe for Christmas pudding, I also spotted directions for setting the puddling aflame. So I tried it with my purchased pudding. It worked and it was fun!
Here are my photos of the adventure.
The Craobh Dugan-O'Looney blog is written by Sue Smith Romero. Questions? Corrections? Send them on to her at firstname.lastname@example.org