easter eggs

burping chocolate..

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Well thats Easter wrapped up for another year.
It was my turn this year to do the Easter dinner for the whole family and I was introduced to the roasting bag for the first time. Essentially its a plastic bag that the meat goes into and it contains all the juices and just cooks away merrily. The butcher (Jacksons in Ballynure) put the meat into the bag, sealed it, I took it home, put it in the fridge, put it in the oven on Easter Sunday, 3 hours 170C, open bag take out perfectly cooked sirloin joint and pour the juices into a pot to make gravy. Simple. Add in a tray of roasted veg (thank you Jamie Oliver), some champ, mashed sweet potato and some peppercorn sauce and there you have it. From raw ingredients, to dishwasher in just over four hours. Result! Of course being my usual anal self and writing cooking order down on post it notes, preparing everything in advance, assigning pots and the order they are used etc etc helps. Very sad indeed but when you have an irish mother and sister watching every move you make like a hawk waiting for the least slip up for them to say ‘ah get out of the way and let us handle it’ it meeds military precision.
The end result is nobody died, the nephews didnt get food poisoning and apart from my mums yorkshire puddings still being in my freezer, everything went according to plan.
I did have some fleeting thoughts about photographing the progress for stock photos but I think that would have been pushing it too far and would ended up with me being strangled with my camera remote cord. Sometimes knowing when not to photograph is more valuable than knowing when to photograph.Of course Easter is more than just family gatherings and eating a dinner just short of Christmas proportions. Whilst the origins of the feast were probably pagan (related to the spring equinox) the church set the rough time of year as the celebration of Jesus dying on the cross and his resurrection. The date is a moveable feast and wasnt set until about 300 years after Jesus’s death. Like Christmas it probably just made sense to put it on the date of the previous pagan festivals to try and override them.

Stations of the Cross

Here in Ireland Easter is an important time both from a religious and political point of view. Easter marked the end of lent were we would all have given up something to remember Jesus’ sacrifices and fasting. Good Friday was one of the only two days of the year my dad was guaranteed a day off. He worked in a bookmakers and there is no horse racing on Good Friday or Christmas Day. Good Friday would also mark the start of the week long easter holidays, so after the stations of the cross were done it was a week before even thinking of being back in school. When we were kids it seemed ironic that Jesus died just to get us a week off school when we got two weeks off because he was born.
Easter Sunday was always mass, the whole point of christianity then it was off to see Irelands other big Easter celebration, the commemoration of the Easter Rising.

Irish Tricolour

In 1916 a relatively small group of about 1000 various Irish revolutionary groupings staged a small uprising against the British on Easter Monday, primarily in Dublin. The British Garrison was quite small due to the ongoing first world war with Germany. The rebels took control of a number of key buildings culminating with the seizure of the GPO (General Post Office) in O’Connell street where the tricolour was raised above the building which was named headquarters and seat of the provisional government. Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic outside the GPO and changed Irish history forever.

Inside the GPO

Over the next week fierce fighting insued with a lot of the buildings badly damaged by artillery shelling, the GPO itself was almost burned to the ground and with their headquarters destroyed the rebels surrendered unconditionally to avoid further damage to dublin and its citizens.
At the time the rising wasnt welcomed universally in Dublin as there were a lot of civilian casualties and buildings were destroyed in the shelling. A large number of Irish Volunteers had volunteered for the British Army during world war one, hoping that it would somehow sway British opinion about Irish Home Rule, and their relatives werent happy about the rising. Attitudes changed when the British decided to make an example of what they saw as the main rebels and executed 15 of those involved by firing squad. It was this, summary executions and the internment of people unrelated to the rising that changed attitudes and would eventually lead to the Irish Republic. Thats a very brief simplistic overview of which my O level history teacher would be shaking his head as the Home Rule Crisis and the Easter Rising were one of my history ‘specialities’ for O level!
Whilst the Easter Rising would go virtually uncommemorated in the republic which it spawned during the troubles, republican areas of Belfast would always have a commemoration parade and as a kid it was one of the things to go and see during your holidays. The parades usually contained a lot of IRA involvement because they saw themselves as the continuation of the line from Padraig Pearse and the true defenders of the Republic. Looking back on it it was just another day out at a parade.

Falls Road Easter Rising Commemoration

Things have changed considerably in the last 10 years, the commemorations are still commemorations but are becoming more historical rather than revolutionary. The commemoration parades have restarted in earnest in Dublin with plans underway for the 100th commemoration in 2016.

Falls Road Easter Rising Commemoration
Easter Egg Packaging

Of course after the parades it was time to run home and rip open the mountain of easter eggs (well they seemed like a mountain) and get tore into the chocolate. The resulting pile of packaging of landfill proportions ended up with a sugar rush and chocolate binge of epic proportions which would invariably having every burp for the next week tasting of chocolate.

Easter Eggs
More Easter Rising Commemoration photos here

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