This website grew from a University of Cincinnati Honors Program seminar, “The Irish in America,” in coordination with the Archives & Rare Books Library. The focus is on the history and the living heritage of the Irish in Cincinnati and is designed to be a sustainable and informative site that is a collaborative effort between archivists, students, scholars, and the general public.

Category: Food and Drink

Irish Pubs with Irish Grub

By: Mickayla Beckett

Bangers and Mash Doherty'sAs human beings, we’re engineered to like food. Some of us even have favorites, though I never could decide on one myself. Food is something that unites people because we all need it, we all make it, and we all eat it. Naturally, with the high Irish immigrant population in the United States over the decades and the enduring attachment Americans have for Irish heritage, there are a number of Irish pubs and restaurants around. Of course, there is a distinct difference between authentic Irish pubs and Irish-themes pubs, which is important to consider when analyzing the impact and success of Irish pubs. According to “The Irish Pub Concept,” a website that specializes in supporting and increasing the number of authentic Irish pubs in the United States, authentic Irish pubs tend to be more successful than their inauthentic namesakes. The website contains an economic comparison showing higher profits with the authentic Irish pubs, even if they had less money initially put into them. It’s hard to find exact statistics for how many of each may be in the country, but this particular website gives a good idea on how to tell the difference between the two: the authentic Irish pub is much more likely to be open during the day for food and it is much more likely to have an environment that promotes gathering, socializing, and conversing when compared to the themed pubs. Continue reading

Are “Irish” Beers Actually Irish?

By: Colleen O’Brien

20170220_185203When most Americans think of Ireland or Irish-American culture they think of Guinness as one of the key elements, aside from shamrocks and leprechauns. Guinness is an Irish dry stout known for its tangy, sharp flavors, black color, and creamy texture.   Arthur Guinness began brewing the beer in 1759 at the St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland. Eventually in 1932, during the Anglo-Irish Trade War, the Guinness & Co. headquarters were moved to London. This was due to the Control of Manufactures Act, which limited a company’s ownership to Irish citizens, as Guinness had foreign investors. The company merged with Grand Metropolitan in 1997 to form Diageo. Continue reading

Is Green Dye Edible?

By: Megan Dunlevy

The Shamrock Shake returns every March. For many people the annual return of McDonald’s Shamrock Shake means that St. Patrick’s Day is upon us. This mint-flavored shake started off as a charitable Cornedbeefpromotion that started the first Ronald McDonald house. Since the introduction of the shake in 1970 there have been over 60 million sold and there is even a website ( ) to find Shamrocks out of season. There are numerous examples of foods that are seen as Irish or are specific to St. Patrick’s Day, from artificial green beer, Irish soda bread, and potatoes to corned beef – the examples seem never ending. To many Irish Americans, including myself, corned beef, boiled potatoes and carrots is a classic St. Patrick’s Day meal and for bakers, Irish soda bread is equally traditional. But are these “traditional” foods actually Irish? Or have they simply become “Irish” over time?  Clearly some foods like the Shamrock Shake and green beer are not traditional, but what about corned beef and Irish soda bread? Continue reading

Why Your Irish Food Might Not Be: An Exploration of Ireland’s Culinary Past

By: Ryan Doyle

Think of a traditional Irish dish, one that would be served on St. Patrick’s Day or in front of an Irish family at home.  What you are picturing is likely no more Irish than spaghetti and meatballs is Italian. Most dishes that Americans associate with the Irish are just that, American, or at least Irish-American. Now, explore the real history behind some “Irish” dishes and figure out fact from fiction.

Soda BreadStart with a simple one: soda bread. Soda bread in and of itself is a very Irish tradition, borne of the fact that Ireland was a fairly poor country for a long time.  Soda bread is unique among breads in that it is leavened not by yeast, as is typical, but rather by the action of baking soda, usually in conjunction with the acidity of buttermilk. Traditionally, soda bread is comprised of only four ingredients: salt, baking soda, buttermilk and flour.  These characteristics of soda bread make it ideal for a poorer family to make, it requires only the bare minimum of ingredients for bread and none of the truly expensive ones, salt here is only added for flavor and could be taken out if the family were impoverished. This makes the bread cheap, filling and adaptable; things can be added to the bread in times of plenty and reduced to a bare minimum as needed. While similar in construction, American soda bread seems to belie the fact that America has a lot more resources readily available to the average consumer.  Looking at current American recipes for soda bread, we see additions like butter, eggs, sugar and more exotic things like dates and caraway seeds. This comprises something the Irish call “foreigner’s bread,” demonstrating that Americans may not be as connected to their roots as they might like to think.  Indeed, the caraway seeds may be derived from the traditional Jewish-American recipes for rye bread, calling for caraway seeds to lend flavor to the loaf. Continue reading

Molly Malone’s Irish Pub and Restaurant

By: Samantha Besse

In order to get a traditional Irish experience, I didn’t have to travel far from home.  Right across the river in Covington, offering a fantastic view of the Cincinnati skyline, I found a small Irish pub called Molly Malone’s.  The story of Molly Malone is a perfect example that depicts the Irish mindset of embracing failure.  Molly was a poor fishmonger in 17th Century Dublin who sold both fish and herself in order to survive.  Unfortunately, Molly contracted cholera from one of her patrons and died in 1699 on the streets of Dublin.  Her story is commemorated through a statue in the heart of Dublin, through the traditional Irish song “Cockles and Mussels”, and through the chain of pubs and restaurants in her name.

Molly Malone’s Irish Pub and Restaurant has a location in Cincinnati, as well as many locations in Kentucky, including Covington, St. Matthews, and Louisville.  The pub even captivates visitors in Los Angeles, California, Ingolstadt, Germany, and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.  I was wary about its authenticity and hoped it wouldn’t turn out to be based on Irish stereotypes, but the numerous awards won over the years, such as Cincinnati’s Magazine’s Best Irish Pub of the City in 2009 and CityBeat’s Best Celtic Pub in 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016, convinced me to go.  The food, drinks, and live music convinced me to stay. Continue reading