As the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick is celebrated each year on March 17th.
If you’re planning to be in Ireland for ’Paddy’s Day’ then check out our potted history on the life of Saint Patrick…then amaze your fellow party-goers with your new found knowledge!
Although we claim St. Patrick as our patron saint he wasn’t actually Irish at all. In fact, it’s believed that he was born in Scotland around 375AD to wealthy Roman parents who named him, Maewyn Succat.
At about the age of 16 he was supposedly kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. Here, he was forced to work as a shepherd on Slemish Mountain in County Antrim for 6 years. It was during this time of slavery that he is said to have had a dream in which God told him to escape to the coast where a ship would take him back home.
While reunited with his family it’s said that he had another dream in which the Irish people were calling him back to “walk amongst them once more”. Inspired by these visions, St. Patrick turned his thoughts to becoming a priest and travelled to France, where he studied in a monastery for many years.
It was in France that St. Patrick was ordained as a bishop and was eventually sent back to Ireland around 432AD. He is credited as the first person to bring Christianity to Ireland. And as the old tale goes, he rid the island of snakes, but we now know that this myth probably referred to ‘ridding Ireland of Paganism’.
Of course the symbol of the shamrock is synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day. Why? Well, it’s believed that when St. Patrick came to Ireland to spread Christianity, he explained the significance of the Holy Trinity (‘God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost’) by using the three leaves of a shamrock.
It’s thought that St. Patrick travelled the length and breadth of Ireland for about 30 years of his life, converting the Irish people to Christianity.
It’s believed that he died around 493AD on March 17th. This became St. Patrick’s Feast Day – a day to mourn the Saint. It’s claimed that the Saint died at Saul in France but was buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down.
Croagh Patrick, in County Mayo, is a very popular place of pilgrimage, especially on the last Sunday of every July when pilgrims make the journey up and the mountain barefoot. Legend has it that St. Patrick spent 40 days fasting on this here.
St. Patrick has certainly left his mark on the minds of the Irish nation and indeed in numerous locations all over the country – is it any wonder that he’s the world’s most celebrated Saint?
Have you come across any monument or building to St. Patrick that we haven’t mentioned? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the various locations and place-names that have been inspired by St. Patrick.