New York Suburb Claims to be More Irish Than Ireland

Bernard Shusman

Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17th commemorates the most recognizable of Ireland’s patron saints  and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland centuries ago.  It’s a day noted for prayer, parades, food and drink in communities across the United States.  But in Yonkers, New York, there is an Irish enclave that locals insist is more Irish than Ireland. 

To the people of McLean Avenue, an Irish enclave just north of New York City, Saint Patrick’s Day means  Music….Food….Drink….Fun. 

Eileen’s Country Kitchen serves as an unofficial Irish headquarters. The establishment is known for its soda bread and other Irish comfort foods.

Collum's Irish Soda Bread Recipe

  • Add to large mixing bowl:
  • 4 cups (512g) flour
  • 3/4 cup (96g) raisins
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter
  • 1 teaspoon (4.76g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (4.76g) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (4.76g) baking soda

    Mix together, then make a well in the center and pour in 1 cup (237 ml) of buttermilk.
    Mix thoroughly, adding another 1/2 cup (118 ml) of buttermilk.
    Knead the dough on a flowered board until smooth then shape into round loaf.
    Place on cookie sheet then with a knife make a cross cut design on the top of the loaf.
    Bake for 45 min at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).

Owner Eileen Mannion Collum came to the United States 25 years ago and is proud of her Irish heritage, but she loves her adopted country, too.

“You could be what you want to be in America if you work hard, believe in yourself, have good ethics and you have compassion," Collum says. "Because I don’t think you have to think with here," she added pointing to her head. "I think if you think with here [the heart], you have compassion with your food, compassion with your customers.

Neighbor Peggy Dolan recalls her childhood in Ireland.    

“Go out and pluck a little shamrock, put it in your buttonhole and off to mass," Dolan remembers. "We’d walk about two and one half miles to mass and home.  It was a free day from school.  It was a happy day."

A group of young Irish-American children will be dancing up New York City’s Fifth Avenue in the annual  Saint Patrick’s Day parade.  

"I’m going to go to the Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the city and I am going to dance.  It’ll really be fun," says Kasey Van Doran, who is 12 years old.

“It’s just like wow!" exclaims traditional Irish dancer Sarah Johns.

“It will be my first time doing it.  I am so excited!" confides traditional Irish dancer Fiona McDonald.

Ditto for dance instructor Bridget Flynn.

“Those girls that work hard at it tend to do very well. And they really like it," Flynn says.  "There is great self satisfaction in being able to achieve this kind of a dance.”

Other Irish traditions are also on tap for Saint Patrick's Day, including a traditional meal at Eileen's.   

“Now I have my corned beef freshly cut, place it on top…this is what everyone’s going to be havin’ on Saint Patrick’s Day,” explains owner Collum.

Corned beef, cabbage and potatoes are top sellers at Eileen's every Saint Patrick’s Day.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Ginny
March 16, 2012 8:29 PM
Happy St. Patrick's Day

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs