I grew up in a strong Catholic household. Both sides of my family have been Catholic for more generations than anyone cares to count, with the exception of my mother's mother. She was a Methodist, but had to convert in order to marry Grandpa O'Donnell. Which is why I have a soft spot for Methodists!
With my mother being quite Irish (Scots, English and Dutch-or more likely German-are also on her side of the family), naturally St. Patrick's Day was a special holiday in our house. It is my second favorite holiday, right after Thanksgiving. March 17 also happens to be St. Gertrude of Nivelles' Day, the Patron Saint of cats and gardeners. So, I combine the two to celebrate all I love-family, heritage, home and cats!
The table is set with my beloved Belleek Shamrock on Basketweave china. Belleek is fine Parian china and is made in the town of Belleek, County Fermanagh, in western Northern Ireland not too far away from the border with Ireland. Belleek China was founded in 1857, and each piece is handmade at Belleek Pottery. The company claims "Belleek is instantly recognizable; no other porcelain combines such egg shell delicacy with translucent ivory tint of Parian china." They're right; you know Belleek when you see it!
I purchased six each of luncheon plates and mugs from QVC years ago-they were offers I simply couldn't pass up! Because the mugs do not come with saucers, I also purchased from QVC a set of four Connemara marble coasters with a shamrock design. Connemara marble is found only in its namesake mountains in western Ireland and dates to the pre-Cambrian era, making it 900 million years old. You've heard of the Forty Shades of Green of Ireland...if you collect Connemara marble as I do, you'll find those forty shades in this stone!
The water glasses are Waterford's Harvest/Thanksgiving pattern (Cashs of Ireland catalog) and are really double old-fashioned glasses for cocktails. Here they are used for water, as this day falls during Lent and I do not consume alcohol during Lent, and it is not present at my tables during this time. Flatware is copper clad, a nod to the Irish immigrants who came to Butte, Montana, to work in the copper mines. The pattern is Campanile and is made by Gibson (also marketed under the Ruff Hewn brand by Herberger's, now out of business). I used my sterling salt and pepper shaker set (National, thrift store find) and silver plated set by Weidlich Brothers Manufacturing Company out of Bridgeport, CT (Lucke Collection, private sale), also a nod to the Irish who came to mine silver. The table cloth and napkins are, of course, the hemstitched linen look set by Mainstays (Walmart). I have recently purchased a genuine Irish linen set, but that needs special treatment due to some staining.
The centerpiece is a nod to St. Gertrude of Nivelles. The bowl is the matching one to the Harvest/Thanksgiving Waterford, and the candlestick holders are also Waterford, part of a three-piece wedding set. Three of the cats are Royal Tara, made in Galway, Ireland (where the O'Donnells come from), with the fourth being a Belleek cutie!
On the menu:
Roasted Root Vegetables (new red potatoes, turnips, and parsnips)
American Irish Soda Bread