05 Oct 2022

Things we bet you didn't know about St Patrick and our national holiday

It really should be the 'wearing of the blue'

Things we bet you didn't know about St Patrick and our national holiday

St Patrick.

So you think that you know everything about St Patrick? It's all just the driving the snakes from Ireland, converting the pagans and using the shamrock to teach about the Holy Trinity? Well we bet you didn't know this.....

We should be really wearing blue

The original color first associated with St Patrick was blue. But because the Saint preached about the Holy Trinity through the symbol of the shamrock gradually it became the most common shade in connection with him.

You weren't legally allowed to drink on St Patrick's Day

Due to strict laws curtailing the of sale of alcohol on Holy Days in Ireland, from 1927 to 1961, the only place you could legally get a drink on Paddy’s day was at The Royal Dublin Dog Show. Of course, if you had access to your own drink at home there was nothing stopping you enjoying a tipple or two but those relying on pubs back then were all very sadly disappointed.

He wasn't Irish

Ok, we probably all should know this by now but you would be surprised by the number of people who insist that St Patrick was actually Irish. He wasn't. Patrick was born in what was then Roman Britain at the end of the 4th century AD and taken to Ireland by slavers when he was a teenager. The exact location of his birth is still debated with some believing he hailed from Wales and others convinced he came from Scotland.

He wasn't originally called Patrick

Surprisingly enough St Patrick's name wasn't actually Patrick - at least it wasn't his birth name. He was named Maewyn Succat, and according to legend changed his name to Patricius, or Patrick, which derives from the Latin term for "father figure," when he became a priest.

There were never any snakes in Ireland

This could be a bit contentious but there weren't any snakes in Ireland despite the tradition that St Patrick drove them all from our shores. The reference is thought to be metaphorical: St. Patrick — who converted pagans to Christianity — was the man who supposedly drove "evil" non-Christians from the land.

Parades first started in America

It may surprise you to know but the first St Patrick's Day parade wasn't held in Ireland but in America, New York City to be exact. According to historians the first St. Patrick's Day celebration in America was in 1737 hosted by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston.

An illustration of a New York City St Patrick's Day Parade in the 1800s.

St Patrick's Day isn't just a national holiday in Ireland

March 17 is also a national holiday on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean, a tiny island with around 4,000 inhabitants which became home to a large number of Irish emigrants in the 17th century. Montserrat is holding an entire week of celebrations, including a Patrick’s Day dinner, a calypso competition and a church service.

To continue reading this article,
please subscribe and support local journalism!

Subscribing will allow you access to all of our premium content and archived articles.


To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.