The Copperas Cove Knights of Columbus Council 6658 held its annual Irish dinner celebration with music and humor Saturday.
The festivities began with a traditional Irish-American dinner of corned beef, cabbage, red potatoes and steamed carrots. The brisket was soaked in brine and spices for 21 days before it was cooked, said Jim French, a retired Knights member and volunteer.
“Every year we brine it just as our forefathers once did,” French said. “It was how they saved meat before the days of refrigeration. They would put it on railcars and by the time it arrived it was cured.”
French said Irish priests never ate corned beef, but it didn’t matter because “we’re all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” he said.
The Knights of Columbus was established in Copperas Cove in 1975, and for more than 30 years they have hosted the annual dinner. As the night progressed, participants enjoyed Irish soda bread and Irish coffee — a delicacy made with whipped cream, brown sugar, crème de menthe and coffee.
It was a light-hearted celebration of what Saint Patrick did to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and convert the Druids of Ireland to Catholicism, French said.
“St. Patrick’s Day has turned into a secular celebration where folks go out and get drunk,” Downey said. “Sometimes you’ve got to have fun with it.”
Catholics don’t consider alcohol bad. It’s the way it is used and what people do with it that’s bad, French said.
Apart from the raffle drawing of an Irish basket with Guinness stout and an Irish necklace, the highlight of the evening was the Irish joke-telling, which Father Chris Downey kicked off. He was followed by master joke-teller Roger “Odie” O’Dwyer.
“I don’t know if everyone will get my Irish humor and some of it may not go over well,” O”Dwyer said, “But at least it’s being told by a real Irishman, because I’m second-generation Irish.”
No one was more excited about telling jokes than Annie McGuire, who brought her own just in case she was called upon.
“I rehearsed my jokes all day long from memory,” she said. “This evening I finally read them and realized I’ve been leaving out the best part. So now I’m nervous again. But it’s good old-fashioned fun and I’m enjoying it.”