Since we moved to Galena (a small town with quite a bit of Irish heritage), we were "adopted" by a large Irish-American family here, and wind up in the parade and doing some bar-hopping after. This year we were tired of the couple of hours of partying and hit a quiet steak house for supper!!!
Hints for newbies making corned beef and cabbage: I like to add some extra peppercorns, mustard seeds, and alspice corns to the water I'm cooking the corned beef in. I like that extra flavor (this is in addition to the spices that come in the corned beef packet). I find that most foods we buy get less and less flavorful, and this zips it up to the flavors I remember as a kid.
I prefer to add my cabbage last (as well as others have mentioned), so the entire meal doesn't taste and smell like over-boiled cabbage.
And lastly, after I've removed the meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, and cabbage, I strain the whole spices from the stewing juice. Refrigerate overnight and remove the fat (almost unecessary given how lean you can buy the beef these days ... as a matter of fact I've taken to buying cheaper cuts of corned beef because I want a little more fat for flavor). I then chop some leftover corned beef, potato, carrot, and maybe a fresh onion (by now the old ones have all but dissolved) into the broth, and a can of saurkraut, to make what I call "rueben soup". Serve with a slice of swiss cheese on top. Hubby likes this better than he likes the original corned beef meal.