17 Things you didn't know about St Patrick's day

Saint Patrick's Day is the most international of national days, celebrated from Boston to Buenos Aires and from Singapore to Seoul. What those cities also tend to share each March 17 are the mild warm conditions perfect for throwing a street party.

In Ireland it's different. There's an old saying that March comes in like a lion, and the Irish winter normally lurks in the long grass to give us a good mauling at the first glimpse of a skimpily dressed majorette.

But does St Patrick's Day have to be on March 17? Couldn't we move it to sometime more kindly?

That's just what we did 10 years ago in 2001 when foot and mouth brought Ireland to a standstill. March was scratched, and when the Dublin parade belatedly took place on a beautiful late May day it drew the biggest turnout ever of some 1.2 million.

In theory, Paddy's Day could be moved. After all, the Catholic Church shunts it whenever it interrupts Easter Week. In 1940, for instance, the Church observed it on April 3 and in 2008 on March 14.

Legend has it that St Patrick died on March 17, 461, but it's really a case of 'pick a number, any number'. It was given a slot on the calendar of saint's days in the 1600s after lobbying by the Waterford-born missionary Luke Wadding.

In practice, St Patrick's Day can't be moved because it's become such a world fixture that it's no longer ours. We share it with many parts where snow, rain and hail will never be a case for change.

In some places, we share it in a most literal sense. March 17 is a public holiday on the Caribbean island of Monserrat because it commemorates a failed slave revolt in 1768, which, by coincidence, ties in with the celebrations of the many islanders of Irish stock. In Boston, the feast doubles up with the original public holiday of Evacuation Day marking the withdrawal of British troops during the 1776 revolution.

Such ambiguity is typical of the legacy of Patrick, a man who might have been born in Wales or Scotland or elsewhere, and whose real name might have been Maewyn Succat.

That said, from our own bitter experience we must concede that he might indeed have frozen to death under a barrage of hailstones on March 17, 461.

17 Things you didn't know about St Patrick's day - Lifestyle, Frontpage - Independent.ie
**** St Patricks Day, in Belfast anyway.
Such ambiguity is typical of the legacy of Patrick, a man who might have been born in Wales or Scotland or elsewhere, and whose real name might have been Maewyn Succat.

That said, from our own bitter experience we must concede that he might indeed have frozen to death under a barrage of hailstones on March 17, 461.

17 Things you didn't know about St Patrick's day - Lifestyle, Frontpage - Independent.ie
The man who became St Patrick was born to a Roman political commisar in a civilian settlement at what is now Greenhead on the Roman Wall at Northumberland. He was kidnapped as a boy and taken first to west Cumbria by some annoying outlaws of the time and then to Ireland as a rather upmarket "accessorised" slave. (a sort of "Ward of Court"). A dip in the road called Aspatria in Cumbria claims to have been his home for a time. His spell in west Cumbria prepared him for any challenge! When he eventually came back from Ireland to Northumberland he said ( in Latin) "This lot need to become civilised". He tried hard for a time, lost heart, and went back to Ireland - where again he was only moderately successful.

Nevertheless we do not think of him as a failure but just as one of a long line of "do-gooders" from the larger island who felt sorry for their West Celt neighbours and did more than just talk about it. Was his input valuable? Only time will tell!

All that tosh about his being a shepherd is bunkum by the way. He lived quite a good life as a sort of middle class educated "hanger-on" - and watched and learnt - and taught others. He did try the life of a hermit now and again, all such good men did, it impressed the natives and gave an aura of being "different".

Confirmation of these facts can be found in the Roman Army Museum at Greenhead. Just ask to see his birth certificate and some letters to his father! It is recorded by the way that when he returned to Greenhead as a young man after many years away that his father did not recognise him and refused to see him. This is the suggested reason for his return to Ireland. But would you prefer living in Bangor (Co Down) to a cold wet bog around Haltwhistle?

(Well its as good a story as all the others, isn't it?)
St Patricks Day, when millions of Eyerish Americans who couldn't even find Eyerland on a map pretend they're more Irish than a native born Paddy.
There's an old tradition on St Pádraig's day that the village eejit will wear a hat designed to look like a giant glass of stout.
The same eejit that'll be stood outside your local stripped to the waist with a St George flag round his shoulders next time England play football.
St Patrick's Day in Belfast can be a riot (literally). Loads of Tims from the arrse end of nowhere, who, ostensibly "students" at Queens University, like nothing more than to get stuck into traditional Irish booze (WKD, White Lightning, Buckfast, Bacardi Poof Juice), annoy the fcuk out of their neighbours and chuck shi!t at the Peelers.

These folk are known within NI as "culchies". As well as the above, their favourite pastimes include (1) Diggin houles (2) Building walls (3) Talkin about the 'RA (4) Pretendin to be IN the 'RA (5) A big feed o' spuds n butther (6) A nice cup o' tay.

However, their more "evolved" Belfast cousins The "Spides" see them coming every year, and relieve them of their student loans very quickly.

Unionists/Prods should really re-engage with the true spirit of St Patrick, but this will not happen while it remains a festival of Paddywhackery and T.F.B.
Spent an uproarious Saint Patrick's day with the Royal Irish Rangers in Belize in the early '80s. Religion didn't come in to it, just a grand Regiment having a bloody good time!
Bring it on. Great excuse for a piss up during when I served, great excuse for a piss up since I've been out. Day off, feed of tatty bread, pub with muckers and few pints. Beats working. Will avoid Belfast like the plague though. City full of celtic/gaelic shirt wearing fuckwits, wrapped in tri-colours wrecking/bashing/abusing and serenading anyone who wants to listen with chants of "oo ah, up the ra." It's like the twelfth in reverse. Both friggin equally as awful. City council in fairness have made big efforts to make the city centre St Pats parade more "inclusive" (for that read - attract the tourist dollar).
St Patricks day always has a church service in the Church of Ireland as an all Saints Day. It is only drunk scum who kick off and hijack it. Most idiots in the Holy Lands & West Belfast are on the sauce trying to raise tensions and draw in plod for a scrap. Water canons are too weak. Lead in the head would calm thinks down. Wait out for big scraps in Belfast on the 17th. It is a sad state of affairs.


Well...St Patrick isn't even a saint in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman church hadn't made it to Ireland at that stage. Celtic Christianity was something very separate indeed. Saints in Celtic Ireland were created as simply as about 12 local people getting together in a kingdom and agreeing they should be one. (St Brigid is a good alternative example - combination of a real life nun called Brigid and the Celtic Goddess). So Patrick was never canonised by a Roman Catholic Pope even when the Roman tradition did make it to Ireland eventually.

The Celtic church and Rome were at odds over many things including the date Easter should be held - so there is a slight irony that the modern RC church shifts Paddys day about because of Easter.:nod:

The two definitive texts attributed to St Paddy are his Confesio and his Letter to the Soldiers' of Coroticus

A Letter To The Soldiers Of Coroticus

The Confession of Saint Patrick

Any information found outside these two texts is largely myth/legend/fairytale or is treated with a large dose of scepticism by academic types.

Anyway just a big excuse for a piss up really. Only ever celebrated it when away from home overseas. Isn't a terribly big deal here in culchieland just another day except kids get the day off school, more of a tourist thing in the cities.

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