‘Find your Irish family’ this Weekend

Source: Barb Randall

Thursday, 15th Sept, 2011

We all like to think we have a little Irish blood in our veins around St. Patrick’s Day — it’s fun to feel like part of the clan as we recite limericks, quaff an ale and dance the jigs.

But what if you are lucky enough to be Irish everyday but know little about your ancestry? For those of you wanting to trace your Gaelic roots (and the rest of us who are just interested in Irish culture) I suggest you attend “Find Your Irish Family,” going on this weekend in southeast Portland.

Knowing I enjoy learning about different cultures and cuisines, Lake Oswego resident Lenore LeMans brought the event to my attention. “Find Your Irish Family” will be hosted by the Irish Interest Group of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the GFO’s new headquarters located at 2505 S.E. 11th Ave. in Portland.

“Find Your Irish Family will bring out the Irish in everyone,” Lenore said. “We have speakers and entertainers with Irish heritage from all around the Northwest that will be gathering to celebrate a renewed interest in Irish genealogy. You can celebrate the richness of Irish culture and explore your Irish heritage. Finish your day with a serenade of the Irish fiddle or with an Irish folk song sing-a-long.”

She said that anyone and everyone who has an interest in Celtic culture, food, music, dance or travel should attend.

The Irish Republic’s De-partment of Foreign Affairs has launched a new Certi-ficate of Irish Heritage, which will enable people who have strong Irish connections to assert their Irishness and acknowledge their heritage. Portland is one of the first cities in the United States to make applications available for this certification, and since nearly 12 percent of Oregon’s population is of Irish ancestry, a great number of you could qualify for the certification.

In addition to learning about the Certificate of Irish Heritage, people can learn about doing their own genealogical research and what resources are available through GFO. They can learn about taking genealogical tours, learn about Ireland’s history, the Gaelic language, and the Oregon Irish Famine Memorial.

And don’t miss the music and dancing! Lake Oswego’s own Bill Mullen, who often performs at Maher’s, will play and sing Irish folk music on Friday evening from 6 to 10 p.m. Other performers include Brian Ó hAirt, the Green Jam Session, the Celtic Muse, the playing of the Irish fiddle by Brongaene Griffin and dance performances by Maldon Meehan and the Monday Night Set Dancers.

There will be food, exhibits and hourly presentations on different aspects of Irish culture.

Some presentations of special note will be those of David O’Longaigh on the Oregon Irish Famine Memorial, John Lewis’ talk on Portland Highland Games Assocation and Robert Burke from Marylhurst University speaking on the Gaelic Language.

If the promise of hearing that delightful Irish brogue isn’t enticing enough to get you to attend, Lenore says there will be drawings for prizes, such as a beautiful Belleek vase, gift certificates to Irish restaurants and other Irish treasures.

If you would like to learn more about your Irish ancestry, or just wish you were Irish, I’d suggest you attend the “Find Your Irish Family” event this weekend. If you need further enticing, stop by our local Irish pub, Maher’s Pub at the corner of B Avenue and Fourth Street. You can sample a little Irish food and drink to get you in the mood for the weekend’s fun.

The event will run Friday from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the GFO’s new headquarters in the historic Ford Building at 2505 S.E. 11th Ave. in Portland.

And for extra enticement, Mark Maher was going to share his recipe for Shepherd’s Pie with us, but life got in the way. Please sample the Maher Family Shepherd’s Pie at Maher’s Pub or try this version below.

Bon appétit! Eat something wonderful!

Shepherd’s Pie

Makes 6 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 pound ground lamb or a combination of ground lamb, beef or pork

1 cup beef or chicken broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon chopped fresh or dry rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 cup frozen peas

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup milk (any fat content)

Kosher salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375ºF. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil, then add the onion, carrot, and meat. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain the fat and add the broth, tomato paste and herbs. Simmer until the juices thicken, about 10 minutes, then add the peas.

Pour the mixture into a 1 ½ quart baking dish; set aside.

Meanwhile, bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes; drain. Mash potatoes with the butter, milk and salt.

Spread potatoes over the meat mixture, then crosshatch the top with a fork.

Bake until golden, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Cook’s tip: Instead of using a baking dish for the Shepherd’s Pie, keep the filing in the ovenproof sauté pan in which you cook it, top with the crust and bake it all in the oven for a skillet version that won’t dirty another dish.

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