So today is the Feast of Saint Patrick or, as it has commonly become, a day (or should I say weekend…) of excessive drinking and the endless saying of potato in an ‘Irish’ accent (podado…). Coming as it does in the middle of Lent, the restrictions are temporarily lifted!
Irish pubs and bars across the world have been getting in extra Guinness across the weekend and Shamrocks and Leprechauns are everywhere. Rivers have been turned emerald green, the leaning tower of Pisa got the Irish treatment, and, of course, Google have got into the act with their stained glass doodle.
St Patrick’s Day marks the death of the patron saint of Ireland who lived in the 4th/5th century and was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century. But St Paddy was not, in fact, Irish. He was born in Britain to wealthy parents, probably Roman. But at age 16 he was kidnapped and sent to the Irish countryside as a slave, where he found religion. He escaped his slavery twice, and became a priest in his 20s, eventually becoming a bishop.
His sainthood came about because of his missionary work in Ireland, converting Celtic pagans to Christianity, and he used the shamrock as a symbol of the holy trinity.
Amongst his miracles, he is said to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland, although it is doubtful there were ever any there to begin with! He also encouraged the excesses of his day, chastising an inn keeper who served him short measures.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!