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please pass the blarney a st. patrick's day dinner party by Kelly Beachell Gasner | 1 2 3 4
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My most vivid and lasting memory of Ireland is of a beautiful red-headed woman dancing a very solemn jig in the middle of a pub in Dublin. She wasn't the hired entertainment; she was just there having a drink when another patron pulled out a violin and started to play (still not the hired entertainment). About halfway through his tune, she stood up, took a few steps away from the table, and started to dance. She danced alone there, very serious, until he was done, at which point the entire pub gave her a round of applause. She smiled, sat back down, and took another sip of her pint.

Step into any pub in Dublin and you are guaranteed to be swept up in a dance, a song, or a debate. The Irish are a gregarious group and love to have a good time. Storytelling and song are a big part of the culture, and the musical traditions are alive and well across the country. You never know when someone's going to suddenly start dancing a jig.

With the right music, your guests may be inspired to burst into song or dance as well. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of Celtic and Irish folk music compilations available for your very traditional listening pleasure. Don't, however, forget about the more contemporary Irish musicians that have made waves on the rock and popular music charts. Try listening to U2, Sinead O'Connor, The Cranberries, The Chieftains, or the Young Dubliners to feel the spirit of rebellion and defiance that lives on in Ireland today.

Shane Leslie, the poet, writer, and scholar, said, "Every St. Patrick's Day every Irishman goes out to find another Irishman to make a speech to." Being Irish himself, Leslie knew a thing or two about the Irish gift of gab. Storytelling, especially ghost stories, is a tradition dating back to the Celts. The debates that normally arise from those famous "speeches" generally provide hours of entertainment too. For your celebration, ask guests to come prepared to entertain, with hair-raising stories, songs, hot topics for discussion, or jokes.

When you're ready for them all to get out, dim the lights, ring last call, and stick some Enya -- another contemporary Irish artist -- on the CD player. Offer a traditional Irish blessing on their way out the door:

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your fields
And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Or simply raise a final toast to their safe trip home.

Kelly Beachell Gasner is a freelance lifestyles writer.  She lives in San Diego, CA.

check out more articles by kelly beachell gasner: share the love: a valentine's day party | the lost art of baking bread

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hosting a divine dinner party | irish soda bread 

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