Today we’re taking a ‘virtual trip’ to The Emerald Isle – Ireland. This beautiful country is home to AMAZING culture and history.
Over 32 million Americans have Irish ancestry – so it makes sense that many of the traditions and lore of Ireland have become important in American cultue as well.
In the US we typically think of St. Patrick’s Day as a PARTY with green beer, parades, leprachauns and other fun…but actually in Ireland it is more solemn…sure they like a good pint and fun, but St. Patrick’s Day is an important feast day in the church calendar…celebrating a Patron Saint of Ireland – St. Patrick.
- Fun fact: In many church traditions (including the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran traditions) a feast day honors a saint (servant of God) usually with a Mass (Catholic) or communion service.
- Saints help the faithful as examples of those who went before them and made sacrifices and found hope through Christ. St. Patrick is a prime example of this.
St. Patrick – The Man behind the Feast
St. Patrick was born in Britain in 387 AD at the end of the Roman rule in Britain. He was raised as a Christian, but he admitted as a youth he wasn’t a strong believer.
Patrick first came to Ireland after he was kidnapped by an Irish raiding party of pirates and became a slave! He was forced to tend sheep for six years. Ireland at the time was a land of Druids and Pagans, for the first time in his life Patrick fully turned to God and his Christian faith.
After having a dream from God where he was told to leave Ireland by going up the coast, Patrick fled. Following the instruction he found some sailors who took him back to Britain where he was reunited with his family.
In The Confession, he wrote: “The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.”
You would think that Patrick would stay clear of Ireland after his experience, instead upon his return to England he focused on becoming a priest and then returned to Ireland to preach the Gospel and bring hope to the people of Ireland.
Why we think a ‘four-leaf clover’ is lucky, to Patrick the 3 leafed Shamrock symbolized The Holy Trinity and was a powerful tool to teach the Irish people about God’s love and mercy.
He died on March 17, 461 AD in Ireland. His preaching converted countless towns to Christianity and eventually his message spread to all of Ireland. The Irish people are still strong in the faith today.
Fun Facts about St. Patrick’s Day
- St. Patrick’s name is Padraig in Ireland. The English version is Latinized
- In Ireland it is not St. Patty’s it’s St. Paddy’s
- St. Patrick probably didn’t kick the snakes out of Ireland because Ireland’s rocky terrain never had snakes, but he did kick out the “spiritual snakes”that plagued Ireland – by preaching a message of hope.
- Although to be fair anytime I see a snake I say “St Patrick get it away from me” – #humor
- The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in America
- The New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade is the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest of its kind in the US.
- Other cities that are known for their St. Patrick’s GREEN:
- Chicago – they have a parade and dye The Chicago River Green (food dye – non toxic)
- Savannah – they also die The Savannah River Green
- Butte, Montana – has a huge Irish population and is known to celebrate even in mile deep snow
- Dublin, Ohio – the festivities are three days long
- St. Patrick was originally associated with the color BLUE until the Irish Rebellion of 1798 when the color green officially became associated with him. It makes sense – Ireland is the most heavenly green isle in the world.
- New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the largest churches in the US and is visited by over 5.5 million each year. Click here for our trip to St. Patrick’s
What’s with the Leprechauns:
- Irish myth and Celtic folklore have bled into St. Patrick’s (in jolly fun)
- Many celebrate by wearing green because you don’t want to get pinched by a leprechaun
- Leprechauns often leave candy and also a mess behind in classrooms (or at home)
- for fun St. Patrick’s Day kids activities click here
Want to visit Ireland:
Ireland is a serene and mystical island. I hope to do a feature series on visiting Ireland in the coming months, but in the interim here are a few ideas to mull over with a soda bread and pint.
- Dublin –
- more pubs than any other city in the world
- amazing history
- Trinity College in Dublin is home to one of the great Medieval artistic treasures – an illuminated Bible manuscript called The Book of Kells.
- Cliffs of Moher
- Blarney Castle – for the touristy gift of gab
- Killarney National Park
I have looked at tours by EF Tours (who I went to Italy with) and Trafalgar – both have great reputations.
I also have used Viator on other trips and enjoyed the tours I booked with their affiliates.
Until next time “May the Luck of the Irish be with YOU.”