What Do Irish People Eat On St. Patrick’s Day? You Won't Find Any Corned Beef And Cabbage

Americans have a lot of funny ideas about how to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, including what to wear, what to drink, and what to eat. Before you start guessing like crazy, I’ll tell you right now, it’s not corned beef and cabbage. While that’s the Irish American classic dish, it’s actually not even the national dish of Ireland. So the question remains, what do Irish people eat on St. Patrick’s Day?

Having been to Ireland a couple of times, I can say that I didn’t once partake in the corned beef and cabbage dish we’ve come to know as Irish in the U.S. While it’s a classic dish to us of Irish heritage in America, the Irish don’t have it around much and I am eternally grateful. I’ve never really been a fan of corned beef and cabbage.

Being at least 50 percent Irish myself, and a self-proclaimed food enthusiast, I’ve always taken quite an interest in the food of my family’s homeland. There are so many different Irish dishes that scream down-home and hearty, it’s impossible not to feel like you’re getting a big old Irish hug with every bite of a classic dish. So this year, instead of feasting on corned beef and cabbage, why not get a little more authentic? Bring out the Irish in everyone with these delicious Irish dishes, just like the Irish folks will be doing on St. Patrick’s Day.

Leg of Lamb

Ireland is known for a temperate climate that allows cattle and sheep to feed outside 365 days a year. Since St. Patrick’s Day comes at the beginning of spring, the leg of lamb tends to make it to the table for this holiday.

Shepherd’s Pie

A classic Irish dish like shepherd’s pie will be haunting local pubs around the world on St. Patrick’s Day. Even though shepherds herd sheep and not cattle, this dish has become a national favorite and is the perfect way to build up a layer of carbo-loaded food before you pour yourself a Guinness.

Irish Soda Bread

Dense bread like Irish soda bread is perfect for sopping up the juices of any of the hearty dishes you typically see in Ireland. Thick wedges are served up alongside dinner or even as a snack with creamy, Irish butter.

Fresh Seafood

It could be salmon, haddock, scallops, or whatever the fresh catch of the day is on the coastline of Ireland. The close proximity to fresh fish means fresh seafood is a staple for an Irish household, especially on St. Patrick’s Day.

Lamb Stew

When leg of lamb is too much work to pull together, it’s time to whip out the hearty lamb stew. The Irish are famous for adding tons of savory bacon and root vegetables to their lamb stew to bulk it up.

Tangy Cheeses

With all those well-fed cows and sheep roaming the Irish countryside, it’s no surprise that tangy artisanal cheeses are a staple for the Irish diet. Pair that with some freshly baked soda bread or country bread and you’ll be swooning where you stand.

Stout Beers

Ireland — the land of Guinness, and all the stout beer a lad or lass could desire. St. Patrick’s Day without a cold pint of stout is a disappointment.

Well-Aged Whiskeys

Alongside that pint of stout should be a glass of premium, well-aged whiskey. A St. Patrick's Day celebration wouldn't be complete without it.

Irish Coffee

Don’t finish off the meal on St. Patrick’s Day with a plain old coffee. Bring out the whiskey and heavy cream for a true end-of-meal indulgence — the Irish coffee. Creamy, spiked, and with enough caffeine to get the party started.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day eating lads and lasses!

Images: David Singleton, Harshlight,Jim Lukach, Naotake Murayama, jeffreyw, Corey Taratuta, James Cridland, Guillaume Poussel, United Soybean Board, David Hall/Flickr