A Pretty Irish Easter

23 Apr 2011

Easter is one of Ireland’s most notable holidays. There are so many special Irish traditions which have been celebrated at this time of year throughout  history. Herring funerals, cake dances and the Cludog (in essence, the roasting of eggs on a farm) are all very old rituals that are not as widely in practice today, but are, nevertheless, nostalgic. Another practice that came as a bit of a surprise to learn was the observation of a ban on alcohol on Good Friday. Let’s just say, Easter is serious business around here.

In our Irish-American blended home, we enjoy a mix of traditions.  Richard loves  the big chocolate eggs and we prepare gorgeous leg of local Irish spring lamb for Easter dinner which is a popular Irish Easter feast.

Growing up stateside, we had the illustrious Easter Bunny whom, if we were good , our parents allowed to creep into our home in the dark of night to drop in a basket filled with Peeps, a fabulous chocolate bunny, tiny chocolate eggs and loads of other goodies.  We would wake up in the morning to find a little note under the pillow, which was inscribed with a clue as to where to look for our eagerly awaited Easter Basket.  One clue would lead to another, and another, and yet another, until we joyously discovered our Easter basket treasures!

Another lovely Easter tradition in our home was dyeing eggs with little kits that were purchased at the local dime store. They included little round colourful tablets of dye (that someone inevitably always thought looked delicious), a wire egg holder for dipping and perhaps a crayon. You mixed the dye with vinegar, dipped the eggs and voila! Beautifully hued hard-boiled eggs.

In the past, I’ve kept a stock of the PAAS colouring kits and have hosted Easter egg colouring parties here on the farm for my friends and their small children. The kids coloured their own tiny basket of eggs and then got to go out and milk feed the baby calves, always a treat!

This year, our shipment from American grandma did not arrive on time so we had to be more creative. At the last minute, Ivan Varian informed me that you could use Gorse flowers to create a yellow dye. Gorse or Furze is a yellow flowering bush that grows wildly in Irish countryside hedgerows. You steep the gorse in boiling water for an hour and you will obtain a yellow hue in which to die your eggs. We also used this lovely article from Williams-Sonoma, and decided to try red cabbage {robin’s egg blue} and beetroot {salmon pink} for natural dyes as well. {Warning: when cutting Gorse, wear gloves as the stems are full of hearty thorns-Sonia cut her finger trying to harvest the Gorse from our hedge!}

A Very Happy Easter To You All!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell. Assisted by Sonia Mulford Chaverri.

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21 Responses to “A Pretty Irish Easter”

  1. At my home the most popular natural colour is from onion skins, you will get colour like that http://m15.m.staticedi.com/c/44b/d350c_m_600_1200_0_0_0_0_0_0_0_44b83ca75f645d1be1f741db2738badc.jpg.
    Polish tradition of decorating eggs are very wide. They have even own name – pisanki. SOme of them are painted with wax and coloured and then you take of the wax http://www.pisanki-art.pl/wp-content/gallery/pisanki-tradycyjne/batik_1g.jpg
    Some are just scraped http://www.flickr.com/photos/9308488@N05/2269381170/
    But it is serious business!
    And a few other natural colours http://majology.mymaj.net/holidays/easter-naturally/

  2. Marie says:

    Hi Imen,

    Beautiful – the eggs are gorgeous! I haven’t been able to find hens eggs with a white shell for dying, did you use duck eggs?

  3. Marie says:

    Hi Imen,

    Love this post – the eggs are beautiful. I haven’t been able to find hens eggs in Ireland with white shells for dying- did you use duck eggs?

  4. Corey T says:

    I loved this post, and there were some wonderful comments that came in when I posted it on the Irish Fireside Facebook page. I thought they were worth reposting here:

    Sandy Harlow: THIS IS A WONDERFUL STORY. THANK YOU FOR SHARING SOME OF THE IRISH TRADITIONS WITH ALL OF US WHO LOVE IRELAND AND THE PEOPLE OF IRELAND SO DEARLY. HAPPY EASTER!!

    Laury Leeds – Absolutely wonderful story!! Thank You so much for sharing it with us Liam & Corey. I wish you both a very Happy Easter.

    Micheal A. Hodge – Thank you so much for sharing! What an artist and story teller!

  5. […] A Pretty Irish Easter – Based on the comments when we posted this on our Facebook page, this article by Imen McDonnell from “I Married an Irish Farmer” was exactly what a lot of people were looking for this Easter… a bit of history, a touch of creativity, and a mix of traditions. […]

  6. Lovely lovely post Imen. Beautiful colours.
    Happy Easter!
    Hope we get to catch up soon.

  7. meagan says:

    Grouse! We call that stuff Windbush! It survives anything – honestly, we just had to clear truck loads of it out from my man’s parents back farm field. So annoying and dense! But the yellow flowers are pretty this time of year!
    All the best,
    Meagan, row house nest

    • imen says:

      It’s a crazy crazy beast of a bush! Smells like Hawaiian Tropic at least! Thanks for your comment. x

  8. Lisa O'Dwyer says:

    Love seeing your Irish/American Easter! My grandma had an old cast iron lamb cake mold that came with her from Slovakia to Pennsylvania. We always had the lamb cake along with our big basket of Paas-dyed eggs that were blessed at the local church.
    I get my mom to send the dyes to us in County Kildare and we make dyed hollow eggs to decorate the trees at nana’s house in County Clare (couldn’t find the white ones so we had to use brown!). My kids love it! And of course an easter egg hunt.
    And hubby has to have his big Cadbury chocolate egg!

    • imen says:

      Thanks Lisa. We must meet for coffee and cake soon. Sounds like a v special Easter…must do the hunt and eggs on trees next year! x

  9. nessa robins says:

    What lovely traditions Imen! We are having an egg hunt tomorrow but you have given me a nice idea about making it more fun with clues. The boys love treasure hunts especially when chocolate is the prize.
    Happy Easter!

  10. Sharon says:

    Such lovely colors! I love the idea of using gorse as it such a sign of Spring. And as long as you use vinegar it will still smell like Easter.

  11. Debbie Summers says:

    Easter blessings to you and your family, Imen! So enjoyed your telling of the coloring of the eggs nature’s way. Very innovative. And your lamb cake made my mouth water :-). I hope the sun will be shining Easter morning for you. Xxoo

  12. Niamh says:

    GORGEOUS! What a lovely cheery post 🙂 Dying eggs here too with beetroot and tea. I want to try the gorse too.

    Happy Easter!

    Niamh x

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