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St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day / Lá Fhéile Pádraig.

St Patrick is the national Saint of Ireland and 17th of March is his annual feast day. It is a cultural and religious celebration throughout the world, and has been a public holiday in Ireland since 1903.

St Patrick was born in Great Britain (not Ireland!) during the Roman occupation but was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a teenager by marauding pirates. A few years later, he entered a seminary in Gaul (France) where he became a priest. Eventually, he returned to Ireland and began the task of converting the Irish people from their indigenous polytheistic religion to Christianity. In so doing, he used the three-leaved shamrock as a symbol of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit), which is why shamrocks and the colour green are used to represent Ireland to this day. A popular legend also claims that he expelled all the snakes from Ireland.

The holiday is celebrated anywhere in the world where there is or has been a significant Irish population and usually involves parades, Irish musical instruments (such as the uilleann pipes and the bodhrán), Irish dancing and some pints of Guinness or Murphy’s!

J. Crowley