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Everything's Coming Up Irish in Shamrock, Texas
Irish Soda Bread

Homemade Irish Soda Bread Homemade Irish Soda Bread Photographed on Fiesta Dinnerware

Almost all big cities and many small towns have St. Patrick's Day celebrations, but few embody the spirit of the day, raw exuberance and small-town freshness personified by the annual celebration in Shamrock, Texas.

In 1890, an Irish sheep rancher by the name of George Nichols established a post office at his ranch in the Texas panhandle. In honor of his beloved homeland, he named it Shamrock. In 1900, two events occurred that brought the town of Shamrock to its present location: (1) The Rock Island & Gulf Railroad ran its line into Wheeler County, and (2) George Nichols' house burned down. The post office was moved to the home of Mrs. Mary R. Jones, who lived near the railroad stop, and both the post office and the railroad stop took the Shamrock name.

Over 100 years later, Shamrock (population 2159) is known for at least three things -- its large and lively celebration of St. Patrick's Day, its piece of the Blarney Stone, and its water tower, touted to be Texas' tallest at 190 feet.

This year's celebration will be held on March 13-15, for a full weekend of Irish fun, including

  • The Kick-Off Banquet on Friday evening at the Shamrock Community Center with entertainment and speakers
  • The St. Patrick's Day Parade at 10:30 Saturday morning right down Main Street, with over 100 entries (everything from bands to antique cars, floats, clowns, drill teams, candy for the kids, and all the colleens that will be vying for the Miss Irish Rose title)
  • The Miss Irish Rose Pageant (crowning is on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 in the High School Auditorium)
  • A Donegal Beard Contest (In case you have ever wondered what one of those strange looking fringe beards around the lower chin and jowls is called, it's a Donegal beard.)
  • A big carnival running all weekend located downtown right under the tallest Water Tower in the State of Texas with all kinds of rides and many booths

Other events include an Old Settler's Reunion-at the Fire Station, a Chuckwagon Cookoff just north of the First National Bank, team Roping at Brashears Arena north of town, an Antique Car Show out on Old Route 66, a Bull BuckOut at Rodeo Arena north of town, Golf Scramble on Sunday at Shamrock Country Club, Gospel Singing on Saturday evening, adult and teen dances on Saturday night, and an Arts & Crafts Show at the JayCee Gym on Main Street.

In the fifties, wise community leaders who knew the value of a good promotion, arranged for their own "piece of the rock," that is, a hunk of the original Blarney Stone, to be brought to Shamrock from Blarney Castle in Cork County, Ireland. Today it is located in Elmore Park.

This year's celebration in Shamrock is sure to be another in a long line of memorable and successful St. Patrick's Day galas. We wish them well. For more information regarding the Shamrock festivities, interested persons may call (806) 256-2501.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day and Shamrock's fine celebration thereof, we are featuring recipes for Irish Soda Bread. This is one our most requested recipes, at any time of year, which is either evidence of the number of Irish-Americans surfing the web, or proof that this is really good bread.

Shamrock Water Tower The first recipe, Grandma Shannon's Irish Soda Bread, is a no-nonsense, simple, delicious bread. It makes a nice round 8- or 9-inch loaf. Wonderful when warm, it is also excellent sliced and toasted.

The next, Brown Irish Soda Bread, is made from whole wheat flour with just a touch of honey.

And finally, Irish Soda Bread for the Bread Machine, is an up-to-date yeast-rising treatment of this ethnic classic. It contains the traditional combination of caraway seeds and raisins, and utilizes dry buttermilk (see Eleanor Bradshaw's review, Dry Buttermilk, June, 1997).

Here are the links to the Irish soda bread recipes in Grandma's Cookbook:

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