The Irish in America

1 Comment

Philadelphia Irish Memorial


Regan and I are heading to Philadelphia for a few days later this month. I have never been to the City of Brotherly Love, and I can’t wait!


So much to see and do …the Liberty Bell, the Barnes Collection, Betsy Ross House, and Rocky’s steps are some of the attractions I think of initially, but there is much more to Philadelphia. Over the next week, on the blog and on our Facebook page, I will feature some of what Philly has to offer for those of us interested in the Irish in America.

I already told you about McGillin’s Olde Ale House, the longest continuously operating tavern in the city, established by the Irish immigrant McGillin family. And last week I shared MacDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes – delicious cakes created using a family recipe straight from early twentieth century Belfast.

We’ve covered food and drink, so it seems somehow fitting (or maybe it’s ironic?) to highlight the Irish Memorial at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. The Irish Memorial is a National Monument, opened to the public on October 25, 2003. The thirty-foot bronze sculpture commemorates the Great Famine of Ireland of the 1840s and was created by artist Glenna Goodacre.

The memorial tells both sides of the story as it remembers both those who suffered and died in Ireland as a result of the Famine, as well as those who escaped the starvation and came to America. The Irish Memorial website says:

The Irish Memorial is dedicated to the memory of more than one million innocent men, women and children who perished during the years 1845 to 1850 and to the millions of Irish immigrants who found here in the United States of America the freedom, liberty and prosperity denied to their ancestors in Ireland.

I look forward to seeing the Irish Memorial at Penn’s Landing. Stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook for photos and posts when we visit Philly next week! Please leave comments with your suggestions for things not to be missed in Philadelphia…would love to hear from you!

For more information on the Philadelphia Irish Memorial visit



Latest Irish American “Discovery”: Victory Cakes


Deborah’s and her cakes

Two things attracted me to this article on mention of QVC (I am not ashamed – I love the home shopping channel) and the photograph of the friendly woman holding a platter of adorable mini Bundt cakes. MacDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes? Never heard of them, but I definitely needed to learn more…

Deborah Streeter-Davitt bakes delicious cakes using an old family recipe. Deborah’s great-grandfather, James MacDowell, was a native of Belfast.  Known by his family as “Dassie”, he was a baker by trade who became well-known for his exquisite butter cakes. Dassie created his cakes from a special recipe (which remains secret today) for the rich and famous throughout the British Isles. Dassie may have become  the most sought-after baker by royalty and the elite, but he gave it all up to follow his dream of a better life for his family in America. Dassie moved to Syracuse, New York where he worked in a modest bakery for the man who sponsored his immigration.

MacDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes is definitely a family affair. Deborah’s parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews all come together to help her create the rich, buttery cakes, available throughout the Philadelphia area at farmer’s markets, specialty stores, and festivals. You can even order the cakes online – both the sweet butter cake and a “dressed-up” version are available. Here’s how they describe Dassie’s Traditional cake:

Dassie’s award-winning sweet butter pound cake (Massie’s Sweet Butter) is adorned with wonderful rich and velvety Wilbur Chocolate and Butterscotch ~ a perfect and delicious compliment to Great Great Dad’s recipe. These creamy confections are both baked inside and lovenly drizzled on top of each golden cake, along with sprinkles of tiny kelly green shamrocks and wee orange nonpareils. Dassie’s Traditional is perfect for EVERY occasion and mostly just for YOU to celebrate YOU!

Sounds heavenly! I can’t wait to track down one of Dassie’s cakes when I am in Philadelphia at the end of the month. I bet that Dassie would be very proud that his great-granddaughter was carrying on the baking tradition and sharing his Irish cakes with the “sweet-teeth” of America.

Click image for history of MacDougall's Irish Victory Cakes.

Click image for history of MacDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes.

  • Click here  for a nice article on Deborah and the Victory cakes.
  • “Like” MacDougall’s Irish Victory Cakes on Facebook – click here.
  • Order your very own cake – click here to visit website.