Duncanville Celebrates Irish-American Heritage Month

Article Submitted by Zebulon (Zeb) Williams, Multicultural Social Engagement Partnership (MSEP) Chairman of the Commission

Irish-American Heritage month is a celebration and a way to honor the achievements of Irish immigrants to the United States.  The month was first officially celebrated in a national capacity in 1991.  Irish-American Heritage month is highlighted by Saint Patrick’s Day on the 17th of March.  Saint Patrick’s Day is a day that the Irish honored the saint who brought Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century. Americans have since modified the meaning of the holiday to celebrate all things Irish.

As one celebrates Irish Heritage it is important to understand how so many from Ireland come to the United States in the first place.  Irish immigrants first came to the United States to escape religious persecution.  The first Irish settlers in Texas had settled the towns of San Patricio and Refugio in south Texas.  A much larger population of Irish had come to Texas and the United States during the Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s.  During the time of the famine, Ireland lost approximately 1 million people to starvation and another million people had immigrated out of Ireland. In the years after the famine, the Texas population of Irish had tripled. 

As with many cultures, food and agriculture are a staple to the Irish way of life.  Archaeological evidence has shown that farming in Ireland started around the time when humans first began to settle.  Some families in Ireland can trace their farming and stock livelihoods back 200 generations.  In the Irish culture there is a special emphasis on food and drink.  While socializing over an Irish Whiskey or a Guinness beer many Irishmen will still eat meals that resemble that of their ancestors.  Meals involving stews, cabbage, cereals, and potatoes are a commonplace around the dinner table.

While the Potato Famine caused a lot of suffering during the 1800s.  Potatoes also saved many families.  The rich soil and heavy rains allowed families to raise and harvest multiple potato crops through the year.  The potato also supported large families who may not have had the land to grow other crops to feed and nourish an entire family.  To this day Irish households consume about two and a half times the amount of potatoes as other family households around the world. 

Grow Potatoes in a Bucket

New, fresh potatoes are a treat. You don’t need a whole field, just a few tools and a bucket!

You will need:

1 food grade 5 gallon bucket (potatoes dislike sunlight!)

a permanent marker

something to make holes in the bottom of the buckets (Drill)

dirt (Ideally a top soil, compressed peat, and manure mix)

2 potatoes

Step 1: Preparing the Bucket

First you’ll make some holes in the bottom of the bucket in order to drain the soil. It’s important because potatoes can rot if there is too much water around them. Once done make a mark 4 inches from the bottom of the bucket, and another 10 inches up from that mark.

Step 2: Planting Potatoes

Before making the bucket start by sprouting the potatoes until the potato has a ¾ inch sprout. Then fill the buckets up to the 4 inch mark with soil. Place the potatoes with the sprout facing towards the top on top of the soil, taking good care of the fragile sprouts. Then fill the bucket up to the next mark with soil. Finally give the potatoes a good amount of water. The soil will pack around the potatoes, so it can be necessary to add more soil. Remember, potatoes must not get any kind of light. Place the buckets so that the holes on the bottom are free to drain and in a light spot, but avoid direct sun. Give the potatoes enough water but don’t let them soak.

Step 3: Harvesting

When the potato plant begin to bloom the first harvest is ready!

The Duncanville Multicultural Social Engagement Partnership (MSEP) is a commission that serves under the City Council and is charged with:

  1. Establishing a partnership with the community to have the most engaged citizenry in America
  2. Develop an image as a family-oriented community locally and regionally
  3. Develop a brand for the community focusing on the goal of “Duncanville is the Basketball Capital of Texas” and leveraging this brand to enhance sports tourism
  4. Develop ways to engage citizens between 18-30 years of age to become more engaged in Duncanville
  5. Promote citizen participation and engagement in government; and to foster cooperative relationships among diverse citizens in order to fulfill the needs and desires and Duncanville’s diverse community