St Patrick’s Day 2012

Today, the 17th March, is St Patrick’s Day. Strange as it may seem St. Patrick the patron saint of Ireland was born in the west of Britain, circa 390.

Furthermore, as a young man he showed little interest in religion. His life took a dramatic turn when he was sixteen years old as he was captured by pirates and taken to be a slave in Ireland.

There he spent six years acting as a herdsman during which time he began to contemplate his spiritual path. Eventually, he escaped and returned home where he trained for the priesthood.

After completing his training he once again returned to Ireland as a missionary. He was very effective, particularly in the northern areas of the country.

After his death, circa 467, many legends grew around him. One was that he explained the mysteries of The Trinity by referring to the shamrock plant.

Another legend recounts that he expelled all the snakes form Ireland. As a result he became the patron saint of both Ireland and those who fear snakes. His symbols are the shamrock and snakes; his feast day is celebrated in a lively style by people with Irish ancestry all over the globe. Beannacht Lá Fhéile Pádraig!

Last year the Catholic Church in Ireland, and its leader Cardinal Sean Brady, were very much in the news for all the wrong reasons, with the revelation that he made two child abuse victims swear to secrecy. Interesting to think what St Patrick would have made of this.

St Patrick’s Day has special resonance for me, as you may have guessed from my name. My paternal Grandmother, Margaret was from Galway, on the west coast of the Republic. My father was Patrick.