Is Corned Beef Irish? - NBC Chicago

Is Corned Beef Irish?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Billy Lawless, co-owner of the Gage on Michigan Avenue, talk to LeeAnn Trotter about a not-so-Irish staple of St. Patricks day. (Published Tuesday, March 17, 2015)

     

    The “Irish” tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day actually started more than 4,000 miles away in America.

     

    “Growing up we never had corned beef,” said Billy Lawless, owner of The Gage gastropub. “Traditional Ireland it’s more boiled bacon."

    Originally from Galway, Ireland, Lawless and his father opened the Irish restaurant on Michigan Avenue almost eight years ago.

    The tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage started when the Irish immigrated to the U.S in the 19th century. Pork was the preferred meat, but it was too expensive in the states.

    Famine drove hundreds of thousands of people to move from Ireland to America in the 1800s.

    “A lot of the Irish settled near Jewish neighborhoods. I guess that’s really where corned beef became a staple of the American Irish," Lawless said.

    The corned beef and cabbage tradition eventually found its way to Ireland as an American tourist must-have.

    St. Patrick’s Day was originally a religious holiday to honor the island’s patron saint. The drinking and party reputation first started in the U.S. The pubs in Ireland were actually closed until the 1970s.

    Ireland didn’t pioneer St. Patrick’s Day parades either. The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York in the mid-1700s.