St Patrick’s Day Party with Sharon Black

St Patrick's DaySt Patrick's DayWelcome to Celtic Connexions, Sharon. Do make sure you kiss the Blarney Stone here on the table by the front door. At least you don’t have to sit on a ledge and lean back until your head is lower than your bum.

St Patrick's DayYou’re looking very much in the St Patrick’s Day spirit all decked out in green. Can I offer you a drink? I have to say, I LOVE your hat. I have a selection of Irish Whiskey. Have a look on the sideboard and see if there’s something there you fancy.



St Patrick's Day
By Cafeirlandais at en.wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [CC BY 2.5 (, GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons
I have plenty of nibbles to snack on whilst we chat. Crisps with French Onion dip (coloured green, naturally), jelly beans, chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. Don’t be shy. Dig in. Who knows, before the end of the night we might even find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Thank you for my Cead Mile Failte (a hundred thousand welcomes) here today, Melanie. I was born in Dublin, the eldest of three children, and grew up in an area called Rathfarnham, which is at the foot of the Dublin mountains. I studied history and politics at college, and then did a postgraduate in journalism, before working for national newspapers. I now live in a small coastal village in Dublin, with my husband and our three children. It’s a place where most people know each other, so apart from my friends from school and college, I have really good friends here.

Back home in Ireland, how do you normally celebrate St Patrick’s Day?

Traditionally, we would have always brought the children to the parade in town (which is what Dublin people call the city centre). Our eldest two are far too old to go with us anymore, so if they want to see it, they would go with friends. But our youngest is still game. The parade runs right through the centre of town, so most people have their favourite places to view. Ours is on Dame Street, on the south side of the river Liffey. Afterwards, we’d go to the Kilkenny Design Centre in Nassau Street, which is a mecca for Irish design, and have a hot drink and a treat.

We have the Americans and in particular the Irish Americans to thank for much of the improvements to our parade down the years. The St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin was incredibly boring when I was a child. I don’t think we understood what it was meant to be about at all. The highlight was always the American groups who came over to participate. They brought colour and excitement and, dare I say it, a professionalism that we lacked.

Now, it’s a festival that runs right over the weekend, and we have wonderful contributors, both Irish and from further afield.

You made the jump from journalist to novelist – is Going Against Type loosely based on your previous career?

I suppose the book is very loosely based on elements of what I knew, when I worked for the papers. I drew on bits of people I knew for some of the characters, and all the jargon is authentic.

I had also written a column for a while, for one of the national newspapers, but it wasn’t a sports column. I never wrote about sport, so Charlotte and her columns needed a lot of research.

Dinner is ready? *looks towards manservant* Come through to the dining room. I have to admit I got a bit carried away with the decorating – sparkly, green Leprechaun hats at the place settings, pots of basil with shamrocks and candles, and green noise makers. What can I say? I wanted it to be special, it being my first St Patrick’s Day party.

I hope you enjoy your meal. I’ve got Potato Leek soup

By Vegan Feast Catering (Potato Leek Soup) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
with soft pretzels followed by your choice of Corned Beef and Cabbage,

By Jonathunder (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Guinness Braised Pork, or Guinness Meat Pie. You can think about it while we have our soup course.

I love potato leek soup. My mum makes her own all the time, and gives me over big pots of it. The whole family love it! And I was raised on corned beef and cabbage. My grandmother made it a lot. She would shred the cabbage up really fine, and stir it in through creamy, mashed potatoes.

We’ll chat while we eat. Going Against Type is your debut novel. Can you tell us a bit about it?

I’d love to. It’s set against the backdrop of Dublin newspapers, and it’s the story of two rival newspaper columnists who fall in love. Because they write their columns under pen names, they have no idea that they’ve each fallen in love with the enemy!

The book opens with Charlotte Regan, who works as a sports reporter in a very male-dominated sports department, getting a chance to write the new sports column Side Swipe. The column is very sharp and her views very controversial – and it’s noticed by The Squire, a gossip columnist on a rival newspaper.

The Squire is written by fashion journalist Derry Cullinane, who initially assumes that Side Swipe is a man! And he takes no prisoners.

Going Against Type by Sharon Black - 100


Some would say Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Regan has it all. Beautiful, smart, athletic and a great job working as a journalist – in the almost exclusively male sports department. But Charlotte is not quite as sure as she seems. Recently split from her overbearing boyfriend, she escapes for weekends, surfing in the Atlantic, and spends her free nights watching sports, roaring at the TV.

Derry Cullinane is a fashion writer, gossip columnist and sophisticated man-about-town. The go-to guy for any woman seeking expert advice on what fabulous outfit to wear for any given occasion. He’s also tall, dark, good looking – and straight! So what’s the snag? He has a track record of dating glamorous, vain and shallow women.

Charlie gets an opportunity to write a new column under the pen name Side Swipe, but is soon drawn into a war of words and wit with a rival paper’s columnist The Squire – and their verbal fireworks get readers and editors talking. Yet neither Charlie nor Derry knows just whom the opponent is…

When Charlotte and Derry meet at the Races, the attraction is instant. As their relationship develops, so much more proves at stake, than protecting their alter egos. But a blunder puts Charlotte’s job in jeopardy just as Derry’s past makes front page, and Charlotte begins to doubt her feelings.

When Side Swipe and The Squire are finally forced to reveal themselves, will they revert to type – or confound everyone’s expectations?



Oh good grief, Charlotte thought. It’s Panama Hat Man. She found herself blushing as Fiona steered her into the man’s line of vision.
A slow, amused smile of recognition spread across his face. Brown eyes locked hard with green. Okay Charlotte, play it cool. With a show of dignity, she looked away.

‘Everyone, this is my old school friend Charlotte Regan. Charlotte, this is Clare, Tina and Rosemary.’

Charlotte smiled and shook the other women’s hands, quickly memorising their names, acutely aware of the man’s attention.
‘And Derry Cullinane,’ Fiona said.

Almost reluctantly, Charlotte met his gaze again, forcing herself to breathe normally. She smiled politely and extended her hand. Derry held it a fraction longer than necessary.

‘Tiny hands too,’ he murmured. Charlotte flushed.

‘How’s your foot?’ he asked, releasing her hand but holding her gaze.
‘Oh, do you already know each other?’ Fiona asked, looking slightly puzzled.

‘No,’ said Charlotte quickly.

‘We met at the Galway Races,’ Derry said at the same time. An image of the peroxide blonde woman popped into Charlotte’s head.

‘Can I leave you for a minute? I must check on things in the kitchen.’ Fiona briefly squeezed Charlotte’s hand and left.

Charlotte glanced quickly about, hoping to engage with the other women, but to her frustration she found that they’d drifted away. Leaving her with this egotistical…

‘So as an experiment, do you think we’ll work?’ Derry said, interrupting her thoughts.

‘Um, will what work?’

He shot her an arrogant smile.

‘Fiona’s matchmaking attempt. Either Cupid will be on target or we’ll end up throwing bread rolls at each other.’

Charlotte gritted her teeth.

‘I’m a crack shot with a bread roll.’


It sounds like a fun book. I’ll definitely be adding it to my TBR list.

Can you describe your writing routine? What time of day do you find you’re most productive – that kind of thing.

I’m definitely at my best in the morning, but I’m not one of those people who can get up at five O’clock to write. I wish I were. Once my younger two are in school, I start to write. The trick for me is to know what I want to write, the night before. I’m far more productive when I have a plan.

I think the party is about to start. I hope you got enough to eat. There is dessert but we’ll let this settle first before we have it.

*escorts Sharon back into other room and inserts Cranberries CD*

I hope you like the Cranberries. They’re one of my favourite groups.

While we listen to music, I’ve stashed a pot of gold somewhere in this room. Do you think you can find it?

I love The Cranberries. They’re a brilliant group. Hmmm, a pot of gold? Is it under the stash of sweets that we were eating? Those chocolate-covered gold coins might do. They’re very lucky.

We have Baileys Mousse Pie and Apple Amber for dessert. Which would you prefer? While you search, I’ll get it and bring it in for you.

I’d love the Apple Amber, it sounds delicious.

Returns to room with dessert(s) *changes CD* There’s a bit of a story behind this one.

It involved one of my cousins but I won’t go into all the details here.

It’s been a fun party. I hope it lived up to your expectations.

Before you go, can you tell us where to get your book and how to find out more about you?

This will take you to my book page at Tirgearr Publishing, and has all the buy links, as well as a nice excerpt:
I can be found on Twitter: @Authorsharonb
Here’s my Author page with links to my blog, various excerpts and other nuggets of information:
Sharon Black Author Page

Thanks so much for stopping by, Sharon.

Thanks a million for allowing me to be your guest today, Melanie.


How do you celebrate St Patrick’s Day? Do you have any family traditions? Tell us about them in the comments.


66 thoughts on “St Patrick’s Day Party with Sharon Black”

  1. Good morning Melanie,
    So great to be here today! I’ll be wearing my hat later on for the parade, by the way. Looking forward to chatting to whomever drops in later on.
    Talk to you later,
    Sharon. x

  2. Great post, Melanie and Sharon! Loving all the Irish food and photos, especially since I have a lot of Irish ancestry on my mother’s side (the Scots and the Irish often have intermingled heritage!).

    Your book is still on my TBR pile on my kindle, Sharon, and I will get around to it very soon as I love the sound of it.

  3. Hi Sharon, I love your hat. I’m in my green… sort of. The green top I wore when I did the TV spot doesn’t go with the my green plaid fleece sleep pants so just have a black one on. The mug I’m drinking my coffee from has the cover of my short story book, The Consequences Collection, on it. Lots of green on it.

  4. Hi Sharon and Melanie !!! Feeling good to be here !!! Sharon I love ur hat !!

  5. Morning Rosemary,
    I know, isn’t the blog great? It’s the most imaginative I’ve ever seen. And I love Melanie’s choice in music. Ceoil agus Craic, as we’d say in Ireland (just means ‘music and fun’).
    What’s your nearest parade, and will you be going along to it?

  6. Hi again Melanie,
    What can I say about the hat? Actually, I’ve always liked hats. Other women like shoes…I’m a hat person! At the moment, I’m wearing a little green wrap-around cardigan, and green drop earrings, that I particularly like. I’m even drinking green tea.

  7. Good morning, Grace!
    Thanks a million for stopping by. There’s a great buzz in Dublin at the moment, we have so many visitors for the St Patrick’s Festival. These kind of fun accessories can be bought everywhere in Ireland around this time of the year, but actually I’ve had that hat for a few years.
    Where are you from? Will you be celebrating the day in any way?

  8. I never used to like hats, Sharon, but of late I’ve turned into quite the hat lady but I don’t have a chapeau nearly as fancy as yours.

  9. Hey!
    Great party! Thanks for inviting me!
    Food’s great. I love corned beef, but, as you noticed, I didn’t take a lot of the cabbage.
    I took my clothing cue from you, Melanie – I’m wearing a green nightdress! It’s comfortable, and that’s what counts!
    OK, I’m back to looking for that pot of gold. It wasn’t behind the couch, and it wasn’t in with your record collection. I KNOW! It’s got to be in the kitchen somewhere … all those cupboards …

  10. Great post. Loved the Cranberries back in the day – was told recently by a student that they’re still on the go: didn’t know!
    I’ve been off the island for 15 years, so I don’t do much for Paddy’s day anymore. I do go for a pint in and Irish bar if I can get the time, but since it’s not a holiday here in Spain, I usually just have a dram of whiskey at home in the evening.
    Have a great day!

  11. Thanks for dropping in, David. Sometimes the quiet celebrations are the best. What’s your whiskey of choice?

  12. Hey, it’s still morning in our part of the world, Julie. 🙂 Bednight clothes are the best – they’re so comfy. Good luck with finding the pot of gold. I’ve got it well hidden. 😉

  13. Just looked in to say how much I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. There is certainly some lovely food and drink around here for St. Patrick’s day. I’ve got quite a few green hats, including my olive green trilby. Hope everyone is enjoying the day!

  14. Hi Janice! Lovely to see you here and wearing your olive green trilby. Do help yourself to something to eat whilst you’re here.

  15. Hi Dayna,
    I love the fact that you’re in your nightdress!! Here in Dublin, it’s nearly 2pm, so things are well underway, but maybe it’s a lot earlier where you are.
    That pot of gold could be at the back of the drinks’ cabinet, of course. I haven’t looked there…

  16. Glad to see my comment made it onto the blog.
    The technical hitch must have sorted itself.
    Food tastes good. So does the lovely drink!

  17. Hi David,
    Thanks for stopping by. I’d say of all of us, you’re getting the best weather. At least it’s dry here for the Dublin parade! The Spanish may not celebrate St Patrick’s Day, but they do other festivals and parades so well, don’t they? I’ve visited the Costa Brava during August (insane time, I know!!) and there’s always some festival or another being celebrated.

  18. Hi Janice,
    A woman after my own heart! Have to say though, I’ve never worn a trilby. Must try one. Thanks so much for stopping by. I think Melanie’s put in a huge amount of work for today.

  19. *waves* Hi Janice! Yep the gremlins have been banished from the blog… or were they tricky leprechauns? Whatever, glad you’ve made it and are enjoying the food and drink. 🙂

  20. One of my children (who is hugely interested in history) has been admiring your blog, and wants to know where is the rock formation that you have pictured at the top? I’ve been wondering about that too. It’s so beautiful.

  21. It’s the remains of a recumbent stone circle in Aberdeenshire, about 1-2 miles from where my father was born. The stone circle is featured in my novel, A Shadow in the Past.

  22. Gosh, it’s incredible! And lovely that you used it in A Shadow in the Past. It reminds me a bit, of different places I’ve seen in Ireland. According to the young history buff beside me, the stone circles were built by ancient people and often commemorated the dead. I’m not arguing with her, because I’m not sure!!

  23. Good morning, good morning, good morning all ! It’s just turned 11 in eastern Canada and the snow is blowing up a storm. I think it’s prime time to pour myself some Jameson, and tuck in for a visit. Thanks Melanie.. you are a fab hostess. Love the tunes!

    And I think I’ll help myself to some of that corned beef… *layers some on rye toast and squeezes mustard over it in a circle design*. I’m going to pay for this tomorrow, but I believe in letting tomorrow take care of itself. Hold the veggies (as Melanie offers some boiled cabbage as a side) … I’m not here for my health… I’m here for a good time. CHEERS ! *Takes huge bite of sandwich – washes down with whiskey” Mmmmm.

  24. Quite often there were cremation pits in the middle of the stone circles. Other thoughts are they were used as calendars to mark the seasons. I guess if we want to know for sure, we’d have to time-travel back to when they were first constructed and ask the builders!

    Hi young history buff *waves*. Hope you’re enjoying yourself, too.

  25. Corned beef on rye with mustard. A great choice Dorothy! I’m rather fond of Jameson’s, too. It’s very smooth then finishes with a bit of a kick. It is quite windy here in these parts. Good thing the hatches are well battoned here at Celtic Connexions or we’d find ourselves blown away… maybe all the way to Ireland.

  26. Good morning, Dorothy! Glad you’ve popped over. I know this has been a really bad winter in Canada, so you’ll need a decent drop of that whiskey to keep the cold away!
    Any parades around where you live? Or have you been enjoying them from the comfort of your sofa? I’m looking forward to seeing some of the others later on tonight. In front of a nice fire this time.

  27. Good morning Sharon! Loved your interview. Your book sounds like a fun read and I look forward to it. No parades around here, unfortunately, but the green beer will be flowing in local pubs this afternoon and evening. I may head out and imbibe one or two, but in the meantime I’m in my comfy living room chair enjoying some online socializing. Hope you have a great, GREAT day.

  28. The history buff is having a whale of a time, Melanie! There are worse places you could be blown to, although give us another month or two, and we’ll have a bit of warm sunshine!
    Glad to hear you can get green beer where you are, Dorothy.

  29. Hi Tammy,
    I don’t think I’ve ever been at an event quite like this (very sheltered life, obviously!) and I’m really enjoying it. The parades are all over here, as it’s 4.40 in the afternoon. Hope you’re having a lovely day, wherever you are.

  30. I agree about there being worse places to be blown to. We’ve got loads of sunshine here now and almost completely cloudless sky. The ground is still snow-covered but it’s going down rather quickly with the milder temps and sunshine. Looking forward to spring.

    One of our local pubs is an Irish one so I would imagine the green beer is already flowing.

  31. Sounds lovely where you are, Melanie. Isn’t it hilarious, that no matter where you go in the world, you can find an Irish pub? There are three in our little village, alone.

  32. If I ever move to Scotland or Ireland, one of the requirements is to be within walking distance of a pub. 🙂

  33. Good afternoon everyone, I guess I’m a bit late to the party. It’s 2:17 here in Canada … and I gotta say, that Guinness Braised Pork and Meat Pie is sure making my mouth water! Love the tunes, too – the Cranberries always takes me right back to high school. Great interview, Sharon – glad I could drop by, say hi and partake of the music and virtual food … though the photos are making me very aware of a not-so-virtual emptiness in my stomach! Take care everyone!

  34. Ha-ha! That’s so funny. I can’t speak for remote country areas, but in towns and cities in Ireland, that’s not difficult!!

  35. Hi Joe, Glad you could make it. 🙂 We’re still partying hardy here. Help yourself to something to eat and drink. There’s plenty to go around. The Cranberries are great and I selected this particular video because I remember this song being used in the visit Ireland commercials some years back.

  36. Great party–Melanie, you host the best events. Thanks to Sharon for a fab interview. I’d forgotten the Cranberries but oooh yeah! Great food too. And awesome music. Not to mention drinks. AND BOOKS! Well done, really enjoyed myself. x

  37. Hi Nicky!!! *hugs* It’s been so long! I’m glad you came out of your self-imposed radio silence in time to enjoy the party. Do grab a drink (non alcoholic ones are in the kitchen should be so inclined). Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself. 🙂

  38. that’s a nice line up of whiskeys you have there! I drink Jameson mostly, but I like to have some Bushmills now and then. The tullamore dew is a grand drink, though. And I once splashed out on a bottle of middleton that didn’t last quite as long as I’d hoped – though I do have a drop left in a hip flask I got for christmas once!

  39. Hi Joe,
    Delighted you could drop by!! You listened to the Cranberries in High School? They’re such a great band, aren’t they? We’re all winding into evening activities in Dublin now. I’ve just had dinner. Won’t make you any hungrier, Joe, by describing it!! But maybe you should line your stomach before you start into the green beer….

  40. I’m glad you like my selection of whiskeys, David. I had my first Jameson in an Irish pub in Quebec City. Drank it neat with a pint of Kilkenny. Very smooth whiskey.

  41. Hi Susan,
    Thank you for your kind comments. And thank you for stopping by. Hope you’re having a great St Patrick’s Day!

  42. Hi Nicky, isn’t it funny the way food evokes such strong memories? I always associate corned beef and cabbage with my childhood. Total comfort food.
    Have a great day!

  43. David, never knew you were such a whiskey expert. We’ll know where to go when we want a bit of advice! Hope you’ve had a great day.

  44. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Melanie. I saw your TV appearance telling about it. Sharon, the book excerpt sure caught my interest. Never heard of any of these dishes & never heard of the Cranberries before, but I loved them. Hey, what is Bailey’s Mousse Pie?

  45. I suppose we are having the best weather here in Spain, though it was snowing here on Saturday morning . It’s definitely spring here now.
    The Spanish do know how to throw a party. In fact they put most of the rest of the world to shame. My alter ego, JD Martins, has a novella out in July set during the festivals of San Fermines here. I was just blogging about the fact that when I am asked about the revelry around Saint Patrick’s at home, it doesn’t quite come up to what goes on here in every little village at least one weekend in the summer! I’m glad that things have been improving in leaps and bounds back home over the last decade or so.

  46. I wouldn’t claim to be any sort of an expert, Sharon. I know what I like, is about it – I stick to safe choices, same as with Spanish red wine: I know a few and that does me. There isn’t a huge variety in Ireland to confuse the punters, anyway. Jameson, and the other whiskeys I like, are indeed smooth. Kilbeggan is smooth, too. My only advice is to not bother with either Paddy or Powers, though I know some die-hard fans of both! Going to have some 12yearold Jameson now – and perhaps I’ll sneak a drop of that Middleton too!
    A normal enough day here – though we have the 19th off for Father’s Day here in Spain. It happens to be my birthday, so I’m having a few mates around tomorrow night and I spent the day shopping and cleaning!

  47. Firstly, well done to your alter ego, JD Martins. Sounds like a fun novella. At this stage, you must know all those festivals very well. And happy birthday! Hope you have a great night.

  48. Snowing and Spain aren’t two words I would put together but you must be in the mountains? Will check out your blog, David. 🙂

  49. I know what you mean about sticking to safe choices, David. I have my favourites and unless I can get a free taste don’t stray from said choices. Father’s Day in Canada isn’t until June.

  50. It actually snows quite a lot in spain – it climate is very varied for a relatively small country. The Med side stays fairly warm, but the centre is on a plateau, so it is quite continental in its climate and cold in winter. we’re at 400m here, so high enough, though it only snows a little. There’s good skiing about an hour away in the Pyrenees.
    I still experiment with scotch whisky now and then. I bought a bottle of Talisker a while back and was disappointed, though.
    We just had Mother’s day in Ireland, and Father’s day is in June, too. In Spain they have father’s day to coincide with St. Joseph’s day, and mother’s day in May for Mary mother of Jesus.

  51. I’ve tasted Talisker and found it too smokey. If you want something really smooth, David, try an 18 year old Glenlivet or Cardhu. They are delicious! I didn’t realize that there was such a variance in temperature in Spain. Guess I’ve been stuck on the Med side.

  52. Hi Janet,
    Delighted the excerpt caught your interest! These are all pretty typical Irish dishes, and the funny thing is that the basic ones I ate as a child, have made a return. Like most things, they’ve been updated and made a bit more sophisticated, but it’s still the same food.
    I’ve never made Bailey’s mousse pie, but a friend made it one night for some of us. I’m glad you were able to supply a good recipe, Melanie. Might be looking up this myself.
    Thanks for dropping over Janet. It’s brilliant to talk to so many people!

  53. Looks like I missed a great party.
    Congratulations on your novel, Sharon. Best of luck with it.
    I love your hat too.

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