St. Patrick has every reason to bestow his blessings on Montreal: the city kicks up its heels for the patron saint of Ireland with two parades in March. Families can partake of music, magic and merriment in Hudson on March 10, 2012 at 1 p.m and downtown Montreal on March 18, 2012 at noon.
Now in its third year, the Hudson parade is considered the upstart as the Montreal St. Patrick's Day parade has been around since 1824. Although smaller in size, the Hudson event is big in star power — radio personality Terry Dimonte will be this year’s Grand Marshall. The various floats will head east along Main St., from Cote St. Charles to Cameron St. Expect to see plenty of families with children; the parade doesn't draw quite the crowds as downtown, making it a great way for little ones to experience the high-energy fun without the hoards of people. The wearing of everything green — boas, crazy hats, sweatshirts or even face paint — is welcome and encouraged. For more information, visit www.hudsonparade.com.
Montreal St. Patrick Day Parade
Organized by the United Irish Societies of Montreal, the St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 18 is one of this city's beloved events. People of every age and background line the sidewalks of Ste. Catherine St. to celebrate all things Irish. Beginning at du Fort St. and heading east to Aylmer St., the parade includes floats, marching bands, dancers and all-round good cheer during the two- to three-hour event. Families with little children should be aware that the streets get crowded — parking and bathrooms can be hard to find. But the energy and enthusiasm of both parade participants and families makes up for these inconveniences. The Irish community has been an integral and vital part of the city's history and growth and the parade gives everyone a chance to celebrate. For more information, visit www.montrealirishparade.com.
St. Patrick’s Day Storytime
If your children are too young for the hustle and bustle of a busy parade, you can take them to the Dorval library for a St. Patrick’s Day storytime on March 17 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Kids under 5 will hear tales of leprechauns and shamrocks and be able to do a craft. Cost is $3 for members of the library and $6 for non members. The address is 1401 Lakeshore Rd. Space is limited so registration is recommended. Call (514) 633-4170.
Irish music courses
Traditional Celtic music is full of engaging sounds, from charming melodies played on a penny whistle to the low thrum of the bodhran drum. If you've ever wondered about making such music yourself, then you'll want to check out Siamsa School of Irish Music, a cultural centre offering classes in fiddle, tin whistle, accordion, bodhran, mandolin, guitar and harp. It also offers a choral group, dancing and a course on Irish drama. Classes are held in the fall and then in the late winter/early spring at Marianopolis College. Siamsa also organizes monthly Ceilis, lively dances open to all ages, at the N.D.G. Legion, 5455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. A Ceilli is being held on March 17 at 8 p.m.; families are welcome.
The Siamsa website, www.siamsa.org, has links to many local, national and international organizations that promote Irish culture and history.
Nourish your Irish roots
St. Patrick's Day is a great time to get kids acquainted with Irish cuisine! You'll find some wonderful recipes on the Siamsa website, www.siamsa.org (click on the link “Kitchen”). Check out the recipe above for delicious Irish soda bread. Kids love making something as basic as bread and this one doesn't require any kneading or long wait times. You can be munching on hot slices dripping in butter in about an hour.
Irish soda bread
4 cups white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup of raisins or currants
2 cups buttermilk
(if you don't have this handy, mix one tablespoon of white vinegar into two cups of milk)
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and then stir in raisins and caraway seed.
Then add milk and mix gently to form sticky dough.
Turn dough on a floured board and shape into two loaves.
Cut a cross on each loaf.
Bake for 50 minutes until loaves are golden brown.