• Simon O'Donovan

Ireland - St Patrick's Day 17th March

* click here for pictures for the tables *

'Old Irish Blessing' "May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand." This session's theme is about Ireland and all things Irish.

St Patrick's Day is 17th March, or you could use this CST activities page to celebrate your home nation playing against Ireland in the 'Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship'. Begin by asking if any members come from Ireland, have family there, or if they have holidayed there. Some members may have Irish names. What do people think of Irish people and their accent? The countryside, the weather, the food. Get the themed discussion going by asking the following questions.


What are the colours of the Irish flag? (The 'Irish Tricolour') Vertical stripes of GREEN, WHITE and ORANGE

Green is said to represent Roman Catholicism, Orange Protestantism and White both religions coming together in peace. What do the Irish call Ireland? EIRE This evolved from the Old Irish word Ériu, which was the name of a Gaelic goddess. Ériu is generally believed to have been the matron goddess of Ireland or simply a goddess of the land. In mainland UK, where would you catch a ferry to get to Ireland? SWANSEA - CORK; FISHGUARD - ROSSLARE, HOLYHEAD - DUBLIN OR LIVERPOOL - BELFAST

(Or, of course, you could fly!) What side of the road would you drive on? LEFT What language is commonly spoken in Ireland? GAELIC What is their currency? EURO (replaced the PUNT in 2002) Who is the Patron Saint of Ireland? SAINT PATRICK What is he said to have banished from Ireland? SNAKES What are the national emblems of Ireland? THE HARP & SHAMROCK What Irish drink uses the harp on all its advertising? GUINNESS

What bird did they also use to advertise Guinness?

TOUCAN ("Two cans") What do the Irish call Guinness? BLACK GOLD What is the capital of Ireland? DUBLIN And the river that runs through it? LIFFI What about the longest river in Ireland? SHANNON What is the name given to the Irish Prime Minister? TAOISEACH Who is Ireland's current Taoiseach and the first gay man to hold this office? LEO VARADKAR Where is the Northern Ireland devolved Assembly located? STORMONT You might want to briefly reference 'The Troubles' at this point, where the IRA and Ulster Loyalists used violence to further their political and nationalistic ambitions for a united Ireland versus UK rule of Northern Ireland. Thankfully, the sectarian conflict largely ended with the 1998 'Good Friday' agreement, brokered by John Major and Bertie Ahern, which led to a devolved regional government. What are the Police called in Ireland? GARDA What do people wear on St Patrick's Day? SHAMROCK What is the 'Craic' enjoyed in Ireland? GOSSIP OR CHAT. Any entertaining conversation, in fact In Ireland, what is the traditional occupation of the fabled Leprechaun? COBBLER

Where would you find one?


What else would you find at the end of a rainbow?

POT OF GOLD What do you call a wailing female spirit in Irish folklore? A BANSHEE The word for Irish Whiskey is 'Uisce beatha'. What does this literally translate as in English? WATER OF LIFE If you 'Kiss The Blarney Stone', what do you get? THE GIFT OF THE GAB (The ability to speak easily and confidently) What type of meat typically is used in Irish Stew? LAMB OR MUTTON What is Colcannon? (Mainly) KALE OR CABBAGE & MASHED POTATOES What about Champ? (Mainly) MASHED POTATOES & SPRING ONION And Coddle? A DISH MADE OF LEFTOVERS (Like Bubble And Squeak), served with Sausages or Bacon

(Did anyone's parents save the fats from the Sunday roast and fry bacon with lard?)

What about Sop?

STALE BREAD USED TO SOAK UP MILK OR GRAVY Before baking Irish Soda Bread, why is a cross slashed in the top of the loaf? TO WARD OFF THE DEVIL What were the years of The Potato Famine? 1845-1849 (There were an influx of Irish immigrants to the UK during these years of poverty and starvation) What is a five line poem with a distinctive rythym called? LIMERICK Here's an example... There was an old man named Bill Who swallowed a nuclear pill The doctor said cough And that darn thing went off And they found his head in Brazil. (He was okay, but he had a terrible headache.) Which UK talk show host originally appeared in the Irish comedy TV series 'Father Ted'? GRAHAM NORTON Where was 'Father Ted' set? CRAGGY ISLAND Who were the three priests? FATHER TED, FATHER JACK & FATHER DOUGAL. (Mrs Doyle was the long suffering housekeeper - "Ah go on, go on, go on.") Which Irish TV comedian signed off each of his programmes with the phrase "May your God go with you!" DAVE ALLEN Which Irish TV and radio presenter had a surprise hit in 1978 with 'The Floral Dance'? TERRY WOGAN

Which two annual TV shows did he host?


Which Irish man hosted 'This Is Your Life', from it's inception in 1955 to his death in 1987?


Who succeeded him?

MICHAEL ASPEL Which famous Irish poet and playwright wrote, "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars!" OSCAR WILDE

Some of his other quotes ...

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken

I can resist everything except temptation.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

Life is too important to be taken seriously.

I have nothing to declare except my genius.

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes. Who played Oscar Wilde in the 1997 film, 'Wilde'? STEPHEN FRY Which Irish people wrote these famous books? ... - 'Gulliver's Travels', 1726 - Jonathan SWIFT - 'Picture Of Dorian Gray', 1890 - Oscar WILDE

- 'The Importance Of Being Earnest', 1895 - Also Oscar Wilde - 'Dracula', 1897 - Bram STOKER - 'Ulysses', 1922 - James JOYCE One of the oldest books in the world, 'The Book of Kells' is kept in the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland. Created by Celtic monks, it contains the four gospels of the New Testament. How old is it? Estimated age - 1,213 YEARS OLD (written around 800 AD) Who played the title roles in these Irish themed Oscar winning films? ... - 'The Quiet Man', 1952 - JOHN WAYNE & MAUREEN O'HARA

- 'Finnegan's Rainbow', 1968 - FRED ASTAIRE & PETULA CLARK - 'Ryan's Daughter', 1970 - JOHN MILLS & ROBERT MITCHUM - 'My Left Foot', 1989 - DANIEL DAY LEWIS & BRENDA FRICKER - 'Philomena', 2013 - JUDI DENCH & STEVE COOGAN What were 'The Magdelene Laundries'? CATHOLIC INSTITUTIONS of confinement where so called 'fallen women' (or single mothers) would give birth, give their child up for adoption then be forced to work to pay their keep. What famous ship, or parts of it, are exhibited in Belfast, where it was built and launched in 1912? TITANIC

When did it sink?

14TH APRIL 1912

How many souls were lost at sea?


How many survivors were there?


Who starred in the 1998 movie 'Titanic'?


What was the name of the jewel that old Rose threw into the sea at the end?


(Ask members if they think there was enough room for him on the door at the end of the film?)

The famous landmark in Northern Ireland, 'The Giant's Causeway', is formed out of what? BASSALT COLUMNS What is the world's tallest dog? IRISH WOLFHOUND (CAN REACH 7 FEET TALL ON THEIR HIND LEGS) What colour is an Irish Setter dog? RED (SETTER) What is the national airline of Ireland? AER LINGUS What was recently voted the worst airline in Europe? RYAN AIR Where is Irish national union rugby played? LANSDOWNE ROAD, NOW THE AVIVA STADIUM


Complete these well known phrases ... Top of the - MORNING It cost me an arm and a - LEG As happy as - LARRY Away with the - FAIRIES Running around like a headless - CHICKEN Not the full - SHILLING Take the weight off your - LEGS Chance your - ARM Donkey's - YEARS Thick as a - PLANK As fit as a - FIDDLE Lie down with dogs and you'll rise with - FLEAS Tinker's - CUSS The older the fiddle, the sweeter the - TUNE The luck of the - IRISH And the meanings of these words?

Gaff - HOUSE Shenanigans - MISCHIEF Eejit - IDIOT Smithereens - PIECES Brogues - SHOES Grand - PLEASANT Gallivanting - PARTYING Banjaxed - BROKEN Earwigging - LISTENING IN ON A PRIVATE CONVERSATION Fair play - WELL DONE Feck - SHOCK Fella - HUSBAND OR BOYFRIEND Fierce - EXCELLENT Floozie - WOMAN OF DUBIOUS MORALS Gammy - ROTTEN Kip - SLEEP Knackered - EXHAUSTED Leg it - RUN AWAY Manky - DIRTY

Banter - CHAT On the lash - GO OUT DRINKING

IRISH MUSIC QUIZ Playlist link - Paddy McGinty's Goat - Val Doonican Val Doonican released a 1973 album named after a piece of furniture. What was it? ROCKING CHAIR FAVOURITES All Kinds Of Everything - Dana What year did Dana win Eurovision with this song? 1970 Danny Boy - Eva Cassidy What is this piece of music also known as? DERRY AIR Molly Malone - The Dubliners Can members name as many shellfish as possible? CRAB, LOBSTER, PRAWN, WHELK, OYSTER, SCALLOP, COCKLES & MUSCLES Uptown Girl - West Life Who originally had a hit with this song in 1983? BILLY JOEL When You Say Nothing At All - Boyzone What film did this song feature in? NOTTING HILL Hold Me Now - Johnny Logan What year did this song win Eurovision? 1987 Lord Of The Dance - The Dubliners Which dancer created the dance show 'Lord Of The Dance'? MICHAEL FLATLEY Riverdance - Bill Whelan Which Eurovision Song Contest featured this music and dance extravaganza during the interval? 1994 (Dublin)

* If you have the time and resources, rather than play the above track you could watch the YouTube recording of the above performance. It lasts about 8 mins though *

Link here - The Wild Rover - Luke Kelly, The Dubliners Can anyone name any Irish beverages? Guinness Stout, Caffreys Bitter, Bulmers Cider, Murphys Cider, Baileys and Poitin (potato Irish Moonshine). Also Irish (Whiskey) Coffee Drunken Sailor - The Irish Rovers Time for a SINGALONG An Irish Party In Third Class - Titanic Soundtrack Ask members if anyone would like to get up and perform an Irish jig. The unique thing about traditional Irish dancing is what?


May It Be - Enya (to calm things down a little) What 2001 film did this song feature in? LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING Ask if any members enjoyed this JR Tolkien fantasy novel, which was a sequel to his other work 'THE HOBBIT' Mrs Browns Boys - TV Theme Who stars as Mrs Brown in the TV comedy series? BRENDAN O'CARROLL I Don't Like Mondays - The Boomtown Rats Who was lead singer of 'The Boomtown Rats'? BOB GELDOF Whiskey In The Jar - Thin Lizzy Who was lead singer and bass guitarist with 'Thin Lizzy'? PHIL LYNOTT I'm In The Mood For Dancing - The Nolan Sisters Which Nolan sister presents 'Loose Women' on ITV? COLEEN The Lady In Red - Chris De Burgh Ask members to name as many shades of the colour red as they can? CHERRY, ROSE, CRIMSON, SCARLET, RUBY, BLOOD, BLUSH, WINE

(Note if any member is wearing red!) Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison Ask members to look into their neighbour's eyes and say what colour they are? Recent research by ScotlandsDNA found that blue is the most common eye colour in the UK - 48%. In contrast 30% of eyes are green and only 22% are brown. Nothing Compares To You - Sinead O'Connor Who wrote this song? PRINCE With Or Without You - U2 Name the band members of U2? BONO, THE EDGE, ADAM CLAYTON & LARRY MULLEN JR When Irish Eyes Are Smiling - Ruby Murray What can you hear in the lilt of Irish laughter? (listen carefully) THE ANGELS SING

As the singer's name is Ruby Murray, Cockney rhyming slang for "Curry", you could go around the room and ask members what their favourite curry dish is? Ireland's Call - Phil Coulter, Irish Rugby World Cup Squad We finish with the Irish anthem and a wish that all members have 'The Luck Of The Irish' in their lives this year. I've added an extra song to the end of the playlist which can be used as a meditative track to use during or after a relaxation session. Please let me know if you would like me to do the same each week. Gaelic Blessing - John Rutter, Libera


You could have a go at making some Irish sour dough bread? Here's a recipe ...



3 ½ cups Whole Wheat Flour

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Baking Soda

¼ cup Butter (cold and cut into pieces)

1 ½ cups Sourdough Starter (fresh or discarded)

1 cup Buttermilk

¼ cup Honey

1 Egg (egg wash)


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a bowl or stand mixer, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.

Cut cold butter into dry mix until crumbly.

In a separate bowl mix the sourdough starter, buttermilk, and honey.

Slowly mix the buttermilk/sourdough mixture into the dry mix until dough forms.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.

Rest for about 20-30 minutes.

Cut dough in half and form two loaves.

Place on a baking sheet, and make and X cut on top of each loaf. (No proofing required)

Brush with egg wash and bake for 30-45 minutes.

Alternatively, you could buy some and butter with Kerrygold.

Another idea is to make some potato art. Cut potatoes in half and carve shapes and patterns into them. Dip in paint and print onto paper.

About Me

Simon O’Donovan MBE has worked in NHS Wales for most of his adult life, supporting people with dementia, their carers and families and developing and improving services to benefit this client group. 

He recently retired from working as a Community Mental Health Nurse within a Young Onset Dementia Service and continues to contribute to weekly CST 'Friendship Group' sessions as a volunteer co-facilitator.


He has been keeping a weekly 'Young Dementia CST Blog' to share and archive tried and tested activities resources, with the ultimate aim of providing an 'off the shelf' resource library of weekly themed CST sessions which can be used on rotation throughout the year. 


The main aim of this website is to share experience and resources freely, in order that others can dip in and out and use some or all of the materials provided in their own CST work. Thus it is hoped, facilitating and supporting the provision of uplifting and enjoyable sessions that optimise people with dementia's quality of life.

This site is not owned by or affiliated to any organisation. It’s a personal commitment, a not for profit exchange of ideas and a resource library which aims to enable more widespread use of CST approaches for people with dementia. 

To this end, 'Guest Blogs' are VERY welcome, but bearing in mind that no images of clients are to be used without their express written informed consent.

Please note that some images are reproduced on this blog from the internet under the 'fair use copyright' principle, in that they will only be used for educational purposes with disability groups and in no way will be linked to profit making activities.


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