He teaches the love of things Irish

August 23, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

There's more to Irish culture than leprechauns and shamrocks, and Conrad Bladey wants to tell you about it.

The man who brought you the Sticker Car -- a 1978 Dodge Omni encrusted with bumper stickers and featured as an exhibit at Baltimore's Artscape in July -- now brings his course in Irish culture to Meade Senior High School.

Mr. Bladey, 41, will be teaching the course through the Anne Arundel Community College continuing education program. The class will meet at Meade Senior High School at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays from Sept. 28 through Oct. 26. The cost is $50.

"Become Irish by St. Patrick's Day!" screams his promotional flier.

Mr. Bladey is of Polish and Dutch extraction himself, but he became fascinated with ancient Irish literary traditions as an anthropology student at the University of Maryland.

He offers his students a quick overview of Irish music, art, literature, history and folklore. Each session, they will hear a new type of traditional or modern Irish music.

They will receive recipes for a different traditional Irish meal each week, such as spiced beef and Irish sausages. Students will take turns baking Irish treats such as Guinness cake to have with tea each Wednesday.

"It's a wonderful way to get people involved," he said.

Mr. Bladey is in charge of the tea. He teaches his students to respect a cup of tea and the workers who painstakingly harvested the leaves. The tea he uses is a careful blend of Assam tea and Ceylon tea grown at high altitudes. It must steep at least five minutes, and it must be drunk with milk.

He is collecting scone recipes for a cookbook and he plans to enlist his students as test bakers this semester. Guests at his home sample an assortment of regular, whole-wheat and chocolate-chip scones, washed down with tea from a silver pot.

Mr. Bladey's students also will learn to do craft projects, such as a woven St. Brigid's Cross or carved rutabagas for Halloween.

The last class will meet in an Irish pub in Baltimore, where students can hone their skills in Irish storytelling.

Most who take the course are trying to reconnect with their Irish heritage, Mr. Bladey said. Others are married to Irish immigrants.

Some preparing to travel to the Emerald Isle. For them, Mr. Bladey has some travel hints. For example, he said, a sharp knife is a real asset, for slicing cheese and cutting local breads.

Last year, Mr. Bladey taught Irish culture at the community college's Arnold campus.

It was one of the more popular continuing education offerings and attracted 90 students, said Chris Mona, program developer for the continuing education program.

"He's a fun guy," Mr. Mona said. "He plays the tin whistle in class. He's real into the performing aspects of Irish culture."

The Irish culture course proved so successful that the college has added a German culture class this year. Mr. Bladey also has expanded his repertoire. This fall, in addition to the Irish culture course at Meade, he will teach Irish folk music, Irish history and "Journey to an Irish Pub" at the AACC Arnold campus. He offers similar courses at Howard Community College and the Baltimore County Public Schools.

For more information on the AACC courses, call Mr. Bladey at 789-7329 or Anne Arundel Community College at 541-2325.

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