10 Facts about the Irish and St. Patrick’s Day

    • St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 because it is believed that is the day St. Patrick died. History has it that he died in 461 AD, at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, where he is also reputedly buried.
    • Ironically, the patron saint of Ireland – St. Patrick – was not Irish. He was British, born in Wales, possibly in the southern town of Banwen, in 385 AD. Another account indicates he was born in Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, Scotland, in 387 AD.
    • There are approximately 36.5 million U.S. residents who claim Irish ancestry. This number is more than eight times the population of Ireland itself (4.5 million).
    • The St. Patrick’s Day parade first took place in New York City on March 17, 1762. Today, over 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the United States every year.
    • The first St. Patrick’s Day in Canada is believed to have taken place in Quebec City in 1765. The largest Canadian parade each year takes place in Montreal.
    • The Shamrock, also called a “seamroy,” is a sacred plant in Ireland, marking the rebirth of Spring. Legend has it that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity to the pagans.
    • It is also legend that Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. This is not the case as there have never been snakes in Ireland. (However, snake symbols were common and worshipped in pagan religions, so likely the driving of snakes from Ireland is symbolic of ending that pagan practice.)
    • Traditional music was used by the Irish to celebrate their heritage and language during the English rule – the main reason Queen Elizabeth outlawed Irish music, musicians and pipers. Today, traditional Irish bands have achieved worldwide acclaim and popularity, still using centuries-old instruments like the fiddle, the uilleann pipes, and the tin whistle.
    • The original Irish name for the leprechaun is “lobaircin,” which means “small-bodied fellow.” Leprechauns have no real connection to St. Patrick’s Day. Today’s common representation of a cheerful, jolly leprechaun and symbol of St. Patrick’s Day is purely an American concoction, started by a Walt Disney movie in 1959.
    • The intended meaning of St. Patrick’s Day is that it’s a day for spiritual renewal and for praying for missionaries around the world. (As a surprise to many North Americans, it is not an excuse to drink green beer and eat corned beef and cabbage.)

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer or experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

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