17 St. Patrick’s day facts you may not know

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St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, but he was born in Roman Britain which means he could have been born in Wales or Scotland!

Patrick was not St Patrick’s given name – his real name was Maewyn Succat. He took on the name St Patrick when he became a priest.

St. Patrick was kidnapped around the age of 16 and that’s when he lived in Ireland He was sold into slavery and tended sheep for about 10 years before he escaped to England.

He became a priest when he was about 28 after spending 12 years in a monastery in Gaul.

Bushmills is Ireland’s oldest whiskey distillery. Its history stretching back to 1608 when King James I granted a license to distill to the local area.

St Patrick introduced the Irish to literacy. His autobiography is the first written work in the Irish record.

In traditional Irish folk tales, there are no female leprechauns, only hard working little little guys.

St. Patrick’s Day did not become an Irish holiday until 1904. Opposition to the idea came mainly from the licensed trade because it required them to close down the pubs for the day. (Changed days indeed)! The one exception went to beer vendors at the big national dog show, which was always held on Saint Patrick’s Day.) In 1970, it became a national holiday and alcohol flowed for the first time!

The shamrock was originally a teaching tool. St. Patrick is said to have used the three-leaved plant to explain the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) to the pagan Irish.

In Chicago the river is dyed green for a few hours every St Patrick’s Day.

However the chance that you’ll ever find a four-leaf clover is 1 in 10,000. Those fortunate enough to find a four-leaf clover are said to gain good luck. But it is not even the symbol of Ireland, that is traditionally a Harp.

St Patrick died on March 17 around 461AD, Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century. but the first St Patrick’s Day parade didn’t take place until 1737 in Boston.

For many years, blue was the colour most often associated with St. Patrick. Green was considered unlucky. St. Patrick’s blue was considered symbolic of Ireland for many centuries and the Irish Presidential Standard is still blue. The colour green only became associated with the big day after it was linked to the Irish independence movement in the late 18th century.

The largest parade in the United States, held since 1762, is in New York City, and draws more than one million spectators each year.

There are more Irish people living in the U.S. than in Ireland. The population of Ireland is roughly 4.2 million, but there are an estimated 34 million Americans with Irish ancestry.

St. Patrick is a hero in Ireland. And there are about 60 churches and cathedrals named for him in Ireland alone.

It wasn’t until 1995, that  the Irish government realised the  tourism benefits of the day. Now about 1 million people converge on the cobbled streets of Dublin to enjoy St. Patrick’s Festival, a multi-day celebration with parades, concerts, outdoor theatre productions, fireworks and of course, lots of pub crawling.

Category: Features