As you may know by this stage, Patrick (Paddy) is believed to have brought Christianity to the Irish people in the year 432 AD. Here at The Áed, we look at 5 things about Patrick that you may not have known!
1. The Saint and the Sinner
Patrick was NO SAINT when he was young! Oh he had secrets but like a bad cliffhanger whose sequel was thrown into the bin…we don’t know the story and it’s as frustrating as Gail Platt’s acting on Coronation Street!
In the opening paragraph of Patrick’s confession we read the following lines:
“My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many“
What we are told about him is that through his hardships he found God. He managed to become a bishop and returned to a rather hostile Ireland and began to convert the pagans to Christianity. Further reading would be required to find out how he just done that!
2. Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a dry holiday! (*man falls over in shock)
St. Patrick’s Day is on March 17th of each year. This is actually believed to be the date of his death in 461 AD. St. Patrick’s Day was a dry holiday in Ireland until 1970. Aside from the color green, the activity most associated with St. Patrick’s Day is drinking. However, Irish law, from 1903 to 1970, declared St. Patrick’s Day a religious observance for the entire country meaning that all pubs were shut down for the day. That meant no beer, not even the green kind, for public celebrants. The law was overturned in 1970, when St. Patrick’s was reclassified as a national holiday – allowing the taps to flow freely once again.
Bonus Fact: Your odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000.
3. Patrick banished all the shhnaaaakes from Ireland?
The legend has it that not only did Patrick convert pagans to Christianity, but he also banished all the snakes from the land! This is balone!y (mmm baloney!) However bad-ass this makes Patrick sound it simply wasn’t true. Snakes are cold blooded reptiles who need warm weather to survive and with that I ask you now to look outside your window…..it’s raining isn’t it? So snakes could not and cannot survive in Ireland under natural conditions. What is believed by this is that the snakes represented the pagan druids that would have practiced in Ireland at this time; the snake being associated with evil as was seen in the Garden of Eden. This aside, we would imagine it would have looked something like this…or maybe not! Warning this is NSFW NSFS!!!
4. The non-Irish slave!
St. Patrick wasn’t Irish, and he wasn’t born in Ireland. Patrick’s parents were Roman citizens living in modern-day England, or more precisely in Scotland or Wales (scholars cannot agree on which). He was born in 385 AD. By that time, most Romans were Christians and the Christian religion was spreading rapidly across Europe. St. Patrick was a slave. At the age of 16, Patrick had the misfortune of being kidnapped by Irish raiders who took him away and sold him as a slave. He spent several years in Ireland herding sheep and learning about the people there. At the age of 22, he managed to escape. He made his way to a monastery in England where he spent 12 years growing closer to God.
5. Patrick was a vengeful M*****F*****!!
After a man named Coroticus came and stole some of Patrick’s converted people’s, Patrick was not happy to say the least. Another document we know belonging to Patrick is his open letter to Coroticus where he writes a powerful piece of work condemning Coroticus and his men for their actions. He does not hold back! Here is a snippet of the letter:
Therefore I ask most of all that all the holy and humble of heart should not fawn on such people, nor even share food or drink with them, nor accept their alms, until such time as they make satisfaction to God in severe penance and shedding of tears, and until they set free the men-servants of God and the baptised women servants of Christ, for whom he died and was crucified.
Now he didn’t exactly go John McClane on Coroticus but as you can tell he was not a happy camper!!
So there you go, from Christianity to an excuse for a session on a national holiday and to making sure we have little chance of being bitten by snakes, thanks for everything Paddy but you know all the Irish people wanted was decent weather! As Pat Shortt would say, “She’d be a lovely little country if we could only roof it!”
For more on Early Christian Ireland and other blogs..be a good auld saint and keep it here! Alternatively you can check out some of Patrick’s writings on this site