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Irish Culture: Art, Food, & Clothing

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

The Irish have a rich culture that is steeped in religious, social, and political beliefs. In this lesson, we will take the time to learn about Irish food, art, and clothing, which make significant contributions to the culture.

All About Irish Culture

When we think about Irish culture, we often think about beer, potatoes, and soccer, but there's more to Irish culture than pub food and sports. The Irish boast a rich culture that dates back centuries. It would take hours to discuss the many facets of Irish culture, so today, we are going to focus on the Irish's food, art, and clothing. Let's get started!

Irish Food

Full Irish Breakfast
irish breakfast

In early Irish history, the citizens dined on meals of potatoes and buttermilk. In fact, potatoes were so prominent in the Irish diet that during the early half of the eighteenth century, the potato was the primary source of energy for the Irish. That slowly changed, though, and now the Irish have a more extensive food culture.

The Irish have a rich diet of shrimp, salmon, vegetables, soda bread, cheese, and roasted meat. Some popular dishes include the boxty, the full Irish breakfast, colcannon, Irish stew, barmbrack. A boxty is a dish made with seasoned potato cakes that are very much like pancakes. Boxty is usually served with roasted meat and vegetables.

The most popular of these dishes is the full Irish breakfast, which is made up of eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, fried vegetables, hashed potatoes, soda bread, tea, and milk. It's seriously a meal that keeps you full for the rest of the day. The full Irish breakfast can be reserved for the second meal of the day, which is called dinner, served sometime between one and two in the afternoon.

Irish Art

Art in Ireland has a long history, starting sometime around 3200 B.C. As the Irish grew stronger, symbols such as Celtic knots and crosses became popular in the visual arts. Irish art is incredibly ornamental and complex.

Return from Galway Market by Walter Frederick Osborne
osborne painting

Irish art didn't really flourish until after the seventeenth century due to the constant change of leadership. Painting became more prominent in Ireland with the work of Robert Carver, who painted beautiful landscapes during the eighteenth century. Other painters such as Walter Osborne and George Barret Sr. dedicated their work to the rendering of Ireland's rural landscapes. As Ireland began working towards independence, the art shifted toward nationalistic ideas, which can be seen in the work of Sir John Lavery and Beatrice Moss Elvery. Both of these artists created art that directly discussed the Roman Catholic Church, Ireland's freedom, and preserving Irish culture. Other famous artists include Henry Jones Thaddeus, Patrick Ireland, and Rowan Gillespie.

Irish Clothing

Aran Sweater
aran sweater

Modern westernized culture has affected clothing in Ireland, but they still retain a unique sense of fashion. For example, the saffron yellow is the color of rebellion, which is worn by many, and dates to the fight between Ireland and England. Likewise, Irish men have been known to sport a kilt, a man's skirt that dates back for centuries.

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