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St. Patrick's Day

 Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland and the one credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. The celebration of his Day is the only national holiday in Ireland. It is celebrated by morning mass, then parades and partying with lots of music into the night. American's traditionally cook corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day, but in Ireland it is bacon and cabbage.
History and legend are hard to separate. It is known that he was born in Scotland and was kidnapped and sold in Ireland as a slave. He became fluent in the Irish language before making his escape to the continent. Eventually he was ordained as a deacon, then priest and finally as a bishop. Pope Celestine then sent him back to Ireland to preach the gospel.
Here it is where history and legend become difficult to separate.
Patrick is most known for having driven the snakes from Ireland. Different tales tell of his standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from the shores of Ireland. One legend says that one old serpent resisted, but the saint overcame it by cunning. He is said to have made a box and invited the reptile to enter. The snake insisted the box was too small and the discussion became very heated. Finally the snake entered the box to prove he was right, whereupon St. Patrick slammed the lid and cast the box into the sea.
While it is true there are no snakes in Ireland, there probably have never have been snakes since the ice age. Many old pagan religions used serpent symbols. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to pagan practice.
According to tradition St. Patrick died on 17 March in A.D. 493 and was buried in the same grave as St. Bridget and St. Columba, at Downpatrick, County Down. The jawbone of St.Patrick was preserved in a silver shrine and was often requested in times of childbirth, epileptic fits and as a preservative against the evil eye. Another legend says St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Galstonbury Abbey.

Ireland's Provincial Flags
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 Gaelic is the Celtic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. About one person in five in Ireland can speak Irish today, but only one in 20 use it daily. In Scotland approximately 80,000 people speak Gaelic.
 Saint Patrick (about 389-461) is the patron saint of Ireland. Patrick was born in Britain.
  Ireland, together with Britain, joined the European Economic Community in 1973.
 The population of the island as a whole is just under 6 million(2006), 4.20 million live in the Irish Republic and 1.7 million live in Northern Ireland.
Ireland is a parliamentary democracy. The National Parliament (Oireachtas) consists of the President and two Houses: Dáil Éireann (the House of Representatives) and Seanad Éireann (the Senate) Northern Ireland has a parliamentary monarchy and an electoral democracy. The voting age is 18 in both parts of Ireland.


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