Ten things you didn't know about Ireland's patron saint - St. Patrick

1. In days gone by, shamrock was worn only by those of modest means. Those who could afford to, wore home made crosses fashioned from expensive lace and ribbons.

2. Corned beef and cabbage was not a regular dish in Ireland until the 17th century, and didn't become a popular march 17 dish in the us until the end of the 19th century.

3. There is considerable doubt over whether Ireland was ever home to snakes, but legend has it that St Patrick bade them all gather on Croagh Patrick mountain in Co Mayo from where he banished them to their death in the Atlantic Ocean

4. In none of the many manuscripts that relate details of St Patrick's life is there a mention of a shamrock.

5. It's thought there was but one martyrdom during St Patrick's mission, and it was that of St Odhran, Patrick's charioteer. Upon hearing of a plot by a local chieftain, Berraidh to assassinate Patrick, and without explaining why, odhran persuaded Patrick to take the reins of the chariot as they approached Berraidh's encampment. Swallowing the bait, Berraidh attacked, but it was Odhran who was killed.

6. St Patrick carried a bell to drive demons away. Having completed a vigil on Croagh Patrick, an angel came to Patrick and instructed him to ring his bell loudly. This conferred upon Patrick the right to be the judge of Irish people on the Day of Doom.

7. Until the 1970's, Ireland was dry on St Patrick's day, ie no pubs were allowed to open on March 17th. The only place where a person could legally acquire alcohol was on a train, or at the annual dog show in Dublin's RDS.

8. St Patrick was not Irish, but was actually born in Britain - probably Wales.

9. The first St Patrick's day parade was held not in Ireland, but in Boston MA in 1737

10. In all probability, Patrick did not die on March 17. Recording practises in the fifth century were not sufficiently advanced to enable us to determine the exact dates of such events.


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