Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!
That time has come once again to wish you all a Happy St Patrick’s Day. Here’s some information from Saint Patrick’s Country, regarding the myth and legend surrounding St. Patrick himself:
Myths & Legends
Separating fact from fiction in the story of St. Patrick can sometimes be tricky.
But the legends more often than not speak for themselves…
St. Patrick is supposed to have driven the snakes from Ireland. Certainly, there are no snakes in Ireland. Though the Graeco-Roman writer Solinus had already recorded the fact that Ireland was snake-free a good two hundred years before St. Patrick was born! The story that Patrick banished the snakes seems quite simply to have been invented in the12th century by a Northumbrian monk named Jocelyn, whom the wife of the Norman John De Courcy brought to her husband’s court in Downpatrick.
One legend has it that Patrick, when he escaped from his youthful slavery in Ireland went straight to France. Deciding to visit his uncle in Tours, he had to cross the River Loire. He had no obvious means of doing so, but he found that his cape made an admirable raft. On reaching the other side, he hung his cape out to dry upon a hawthorn bush. Despite it being the middle of winter, the bush immediately burst into bloom. Fact: to this day, the hawthorn blooms in winter in the Loire Valley and St. Patrick has two feast days there – one on March 17 and the other on Christmas Day.
Patrick, despite his saintliness, was not averse to bouts of temper, it seems. After a greedy man once denied him the use of a field to rest and grazes his oxen, Patrick is said to have cursed the field, prophesying that nothing would grow on it from then on. Sure enough, that very day, the field was overrun by the sea and remained sandy and barren for evermore.
A blind man once came to Patrick seeking a cure. As he approached, he stumbled several times and fell over and was duly laughed at by one of Patrick’s companions. The blind man was cured. The companion, however, was blinded.
Before he died, an angel told Patrick that he should have two untamed oxen yoked to his funeral cart and that they should be left to decide where he should be buried. With great political foresight, the oxen chose Downpatrick.
On the day that Patrick died, night never fell in Ulster nor did it for a further twelve days.
Shamrock & St. Patrick
The shamrock is popularly identified with Ireland. That custom owes its origins to St. Patrick.
What is shamrock?
The shamrock is a form of clover -Trifolium repens, Trifolium pratense or more likely Trifolium dubium, to give its botanical pedigree – and only looks different from what one might expect because it is picked so early in spring.
What’s the connection with St. Patrick?
Legend has it that in attempting to explain the three-in-one principle of the Holy Trinity to the pagan King Laoghaire (pronounced Leary), St. Patrick found the three-leafed shamrock a convenient teaching aid. Four-leafed shamrocks obviously are discounted. They cause severe theological problems!