St Patrick’s day traditionally falls on the 17th of March, however this year it has been brought forward to the 15th of March by order of the Roman Catholic Church to avoid conflicting with Holy Monday.
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales somewhere around AD 385. His real name was Maewyn. Until he was 16, he considered himself to be a pagan and was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village and during his time in captivity he became closer to God.
Six years later he escaped from slavery and went to a monastery in Gaul where he studied under St. Germain for twelve years. It was during this training that he realised that it was his calling to convert the Irish pagans to Christianity and his wishes were to return to Ireland.
However, his superiors appointed St. Palladius who transferred to Scotland two years later. Patrick was then appointed as second bishop to Ireland. He was quite successful at converting many pagans, which upset the Celtic Druids and he was arrested several times but manged to escape each time.
He travelled across Ireland, establishing schools, churches and monasteries across the country which would help him in converting the Irish to Christianity. His mission lasted some thirty years, after which he retired to County Down.
He died on 17th March in AD 461 and this day has since been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day.
There is a great deal of Irish folklore surrounding St.Patrick’s Day including the belief that he raised people from the dead and also gave a sermon from a hilltop to drive all snakes out of Ireland, although there were no native species.
The shamrock is a traditional icon of St.Patrick’s Day because it tells how Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain how the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit could exist as separate parts of the same being. His followers took to wearing a shamrock in celebration.
The St. Patrick’s Day custom came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick’s Day was publicly celebrated in Boston.
Today, St.Patrick’s Day is celebrated with large parades, the wearing of the green and drinking beer.
Go raibh tú daibhir i mí-áidh
Agus saibhir i mbeannachtaí
Go mall ag déanamh namhaid, go luath a déanamh carad,
Ach saibhir nó daibhir, go mall nó go luath,
Nach raibh ach áthas agat
Ón lá seo amach.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
Slow to make enemies,
quick to make friends,
But rich or poor, quick or slow,
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.