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Your guide to a kid-friendly St Patrick's Day

A new book details treasure hunting, St Patrick's Day in outer space, and shamrock shakes

You don’t need a parade to celebrate St Patrick’s Day – and a new book by Ohio-based writer John O’Brien is chock-full of ideas that will let children learn about St Patrick and Ireland, and have plenty of fun along the way.

“Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day” is a jamboree of history, traditions and activities for kids. Its author is no stranger to Irish traditions: John O’Brien publishes one of the most successful Irish newspapers in the country, the “Ohio Irish-American News”. His love of his Irish heritage started early– and he became involved in Irish-American activities as a teen. He's been running a major annual Irish Festival in his hometown of Cleveland, that kicked off years ago, when his dad said to him, “Johnny, we’re starting an Irish festival, and you’re doing the parking”.

John remembers, “There were 10 of us sitting in our living room. I was 16 at the time. 37 years later, we’re still doing it – we’re now on the fourth generation”.

Tradition is important to him. “The legacy continues, which is important. I always say, we’re Irish 365 days a year. We’ve always been green”.

Whether you’re Irish all year, or just enjoy a fun party, this charming book is a lovely way to introduce children to Ireland and Irish traditions. It’s loaded with activities and information about St Patrick and Ireland. Here are a few excerpts:

Learn about how St Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world – and even from outer space!

The book describes some fascinating St Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world. In Chicago, they paint the river green. In Montserrat, locals celebrate the national holiday with festivities highlighting both Caribbean culture and their Irish heritage. And in Japan, there’s a parade followed by an oyster festival.

But most intriguingly, St Patrick’s Day has even been celebrated in outer space! The book details how:

While she was in orbit at the International Space Station in 2011, astronaut Cady Coleman played a 100-year-old flute owned by Irish traditional music legend Matt Molloy, a member of the famous Irish band The Chieftains. The Chieftains loved Cady’s playing so much, they put her music on one of their albums. [You can even watch a video of Cady playing the flute in space on YouTube.

In 2013, astronaut Chris Hadfield sent home pictures of beautiful Ireland at night from the International Space Station. [See his celebration on].  


Have a treasure hunt!

The book features many activities for children to celebrate St Patrick’s Day – Play parade Bingo, go on a scavenger hunt for green items, learn a few words in the Irish language and more. Here’s the author on how to organize a treasure hunt:

Legend says a pot of gold is a treasure that can be found at the end of each rainbow. But rainbows are rare, so for St Patrick’s Day, people organize treasure hunts on their own. Brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, friends, and babysitters can all help plan a fun event for the whole neighborhood.

They can use many different items: Treasure pots made of small pails or flowerpots painted black; gold-covered coins or candy; green lollipops, cookies, or cupcakes; or even a few shamrock seeds to grow at home in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. Once they have gathered all their treasures, parents and grandparents can hide them in the yard or around the house, and the children can hunt for them!


Make a Shamrock Shake!

While the adults enjoy their festive drinks, the kids can enjoy their own!

A favorite St. Patrick’s Day treat is a milkshake dyed green. Note: ask an adult for help with this recipe, especially when using the blender!

Ingredients (Makes 1)

2 scoops vanilla ice cream (or any flavor you love)
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon mint extract (adjust to taste)
Green food coloring
1 tablespoon whipped cream
Green sprinkles
Maraschino cherries

Optional: chocolate chips, green candy, chocolate syrup, or other toppings

Step 1: In a blender, mix the ice cream, milk, and mint extract on high. Add a bit of the food coloring and continue mixing. Repeat as needed to your desired shade of green.

Step 2: Pour the shake into a clear glass.

Step 3: Top with whipped cream, green sprinkles, a cherry, and any other treats.


Get the book

You can order “Celebrating St Patrick’s Day” by John O’Brien through your local bookshop, or from the links below.


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