Shamrock Luncheon

Shamrock Luncheon
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shamrockSt. Patrick’s Day is celebrated very differently in Ireland and the United States, depending on each family‘s preferences and history. For some it remains a thoughtful day of reflection, for others it’s a day to share their Irish heritage with friends and family. Of course, there is that other faction that drinks green beer and sings Irish songs, whether they have a bit of Ireland in their blood or not. 

In our family we have a grandfather and a great grandfather who were born in Ireland and Wales.  We love all things Irish, and try to share the music, food and yes, a little of the fun aspect of St. Patrick’s Day with our children. I’ve never drank a green beer in my life, but I have worn green on St. Patrick’s Day. I love potatoes and cabbage, which were staples in Ireland when the Irish people struggled to support their families during especially tough times.

When my children were small we had St. Patrick’s Day tea parties. Now that they are older, we watch movies and talk about the beautiful country of Ireland; its language and its history.  One day we hope to visit it as a family, along with Wales and Scotland.  This year, we’ll have to be satisfied with a small get together at our house.

Bright Ideas for Entertaining, a small treasure of a book published in 1905, has some charming ideas for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. 

“Have the decorations of the house all green and have each one wear as much green as possible. Tin spoons tied with green ribbon can be given as souvenirs.

Have green paper napkins which can be made from green tissue paper. Have each guest help in the entertainment of the evening with an Irish song, story or recitation.

The same book also had some cute ideas for a “Shamrock Luncheon”. 

“Invitations were written upon pale green note paper, with a shamrock leaf painted in watercolor in one corner. The hours were from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.” 

The luncheon was served by three girls who wore white gowns with green ribbons.  I had to laugh as the writer advised we should not over do the green color scheme because it’s not an appetizing color for food.  The decorations for the tables were described: 

“The six small luncheon tables were set with green and white china, and had centerpiece pots of blossoming shamrock. “ 

The menu consisted of:

Fruit salad

Boiled Salmon with caper sauce

Potatoes au Gratin

Chicken salad in Lettuce Nests


Pistachio Cream

Cakes iced in Pale Green




I would substitute small cookies for the bonbons, tuna sandwiches with cucumber instead of the salmon and potato salad instead of the potatoes.  Below are recipes I’ve used many times. You’ll also find recipes for some lovely cookies here:


Herb and Red Potato Salad 


2 pounds red potatoes, quartered

2/3 cup mayonnaise, low fat or regular

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

3/4 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley and dill

1/4 cup diced celery

2 sliced green onions


Boil the potatoes, skin on but with any blemishes removed. Boil for about ten minutes until just tender. Drain, rinsing under cold water. Set aside in a large bowl. In a large measuring cup or small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth and set aside. Add the green onions, minced herbs and celery to the bowl of potatoes. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon toss this mixture with the dressing. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving. Garnish with more dill and parsley.


Tuna Salad for Sandwiches 

1 (12 oz) can tuna in water

2 tbsp. minced sweet onion

1 stalk celery, minced

1/2 tsp. dried thyme, or 1 tsp. fresh, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

3-4 tbsp. mayonnaise or salad dressing

1 sliced cucumber, peeled


Drain the can of tuna, and add to a medium sized bowl, breaking it up if necessary. Add the onion, minced celery thyme, salt, and pepper to the tuna. Mix by tossing with a wooden spoon. Add the mayonnaise, and mix it until all the ingredients are coated. Chill until ready to serve.


Peel and thinly slice the cucumber.  At this point the tuna salad can be spread on miniature crescent rolls, crackers, pita bread, flat bread, wraps or regular slices of bread. Cut into sections just a little bit bigger than a slice of cucumber. Place one slice on each sandwich or cracker, then top with a matching piece of bread/cracker. Serve on a platter.


Options: More mayonnaise can be added if the tuna is a little dry. Other herbs such as fresh basil, oregano, dill or tarragon can be used instead of thyme or a combination. A small piece of lettuce can be used with or instead of the cucumber.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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