On Saint Patrick’s Day We Are ALL Irish

posted Mar 17, 2018 by Kathy Pinna
It's often been said that on St. Patrick's day, we are all Irish. And certainly, on March 17th all around the world people - especially across the U.K., U.S., Canada, and Australia - celebrate the Irish culture and their traditions. Who doesn't love a good Irish ale with corn beef and cabbage while chasing the mythical leprechaun, a red-haired colleen or lad, or doing a step dance? Today is the day to celebrate the Irish people and their traditions across cultures - or to just party!

Did you know that new DNA analysis shows that the original inhabitants of Ireland were from the Iberian Peninsula and are closely linked genetically to the Basque people? Some later intermarriage has resulted in Celtic (and English!) blood as well but on St Patrick's Day, when you celebrate, remember that you could just as well dance a Basque sword dance!

The History of St. Patrick's Day In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day is called Lá Fhéile Pádraig, "the Day of the Festival of Patrick" and is named after Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick was born about AD 385 and died in 461 on March 17th. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland - or "chasing the snakes out of Ireland", referring to the eradication of pagan religion on the island. (There were never any snakes in Ireland). Ironically, Patrick wasn't Irish - he was born in Great Britain and kidnapped by Irish raiders at age 16 and taken to Ireland - at least that's the story that he wrote in his autobiography, "Declaration". After 6 years in Ireland, "God saved him" - returning him to Great Britain - and he became a priest, later returning to Ireland to save the pagans, converting "thousands" to the Catholic/Christian religion.

In the centuries after his death, legends grew up around him and he became more revered; and until a few decades ago, he was celebrated more by the Irish diaspora - about 50 to 80 million Irish people outside of Ireland - than among the inhabitants of Ireland. St. Patrick's Day became a public celebration - festivals, parades, banquets, wearing green, playing Irish music - rather than a church holy day. Even church restrictions during Lent are now suspended for St. Patrick's Day. Dispensation is given for eating meat - especially corn beef! - and drinking alcohol.

An interesting custom At the end of the night, an old custom is the "drowning of the shamrock". A shamrock is placed at the bottom of a glass, the glass is filled with whiskey, beer, or cider, and then St. Patrick is toasted. After drinking the contents of the cup, the shamrock is swallowed or tossed over your shoulder for good luck.

Two “lassies” in Bob Barrett's Pipers and Drummers

Kilkenny Castle, Ireland

Oh! Irish castles are so haunting!

"Happy Hooligan's Trip Around the World"

A 1907 Broadway show.

World War I war hero

Michael O'Leary was awarded the Victoria Cross for heroism in World War 1. He was lauded for "single-handedly charging and destroying two German barricades defended by machine gun positions" near the French village of Cuinchy.

Killarney, 1899

Three Irish women traveling to a funeral.

A strong tradition of Irish sailors

Irish Coast Guard, 1916.

Molly Brown didn't need her Irish red hair to be feisty.

The unsinkable Molly Brown (born Margaret Tobin to Irish immigrant parents) receiving an award for her heroic actions during the sinking of the Titanic.

It's a shillelagh (sail éille), not a club

Vintage St. Pat's Day postcard - shamrocks for luck, a shillelagh symbolizing Ireland.

Caoimhín de Barra, Irish freedom fighter

Kevin Barry (born Caoimhín de Barra, here in 1920 just before he died) was the first Irish republican to be executed by the British since the leaders of the Easter Rising (in 1916 - just over 100 yrs ago) were killed by a firing squad.

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