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Posted by on Mar 13, 2011 in Headlines, History, Q&A | 11 comments

20 Things You Might Not Know About St. Patrick’s Day

St Patrick and Shamrocks

In honor of St Paddy’s Day, we thought we’d share some tidbits that offer a bit of insight into the day when “everyone is Irish.”

  1. March 17th is the Roman Catholic feast day for Ireland’s St Patrick, patron saint, who was not born in Ireland, but originally brought there as a slave.
  2. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1737 in Boston. New York City started the first organized parade 25 years later. Meanwhile, Dublin’s parade began 70 years after that.
  3. Until the 1970s, St Patrick’s Day was considered a minor holiday but at that time began gaining popularity in the U.S.
  4. The village of Dripsey in County Cork hosts the world’s shortest parade, which runs 77 feet between the towns two bars.
  5. The Irish raise their glass and say “Sláinte” (pronounced SLAN-cha), the Irish word for “health.”
  6. Ireland was never home to any native species of snakes.
  7. More American’s claim Irish heritage than the entire populations of Ireland… and on St Patrick’s Day that number seems to grow even more.
  8. St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin is no longer a Catholic Cathedral… it’s Church of Ireland.
  9. Part of St Patrick’s success in converting the Irish to Christianity in the 5th Century was his familiarity with the Irish language and traditions. He combined many non-Christian practices with his teachings, such as bonfires and superimposing the image of the sun over the cross to create what we now know as the Celtic Cross.
  10. Chicago first dyed their river green on March 17, 1961.
  11. Until the 1970s, Irish pubs were closed on St Patrick’s Day.
  12. In the US, there are 21 towns named Dublin. They are in the states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania (3), Texas, Virginia.
  13. Four towns in the US are named Shamrock in Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and Mount Gay-Shamrock, West Virginia.
  14. While everyone sees green on St Patrick’s Day, blue was traditionally the color associated with the saint and Ireland.
  15. In 1996, Minister for Tourism Enda Kenny (now, Ireland’s newly elected Taoiseach), helped extend Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day parade into a week-long festival.
  16. In 1922, new laws banned the opening of pubs on St Patrick’s Day. Pubs in Limerick defied the order and law enforcement turned a “Nelson’s Eye,” a term named after an admiral who ignored the ban. (This one is in questions… see comments below)
  17. 1 in every 10,000 clover have four leaves. The record for the highest number of leaves is 14… now that’s LUCKY!
  18. Some species of shamrocks will be harder to find in Ireland this year because of this winters extreme conditions.
  19. On St Patrick’s Day, the daily worldwide consumption of Guinness jumps from 5.5 million pints to 13 million!
  20. St Patrick’s Day is often shortened to St Paddy’s… not St Patty’s.

For a bit more, visit www.irishcultureandcustomes.com:

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11 Comments

  1. hope readers pay particular attention to no. 20

    they can follow that one up with a few of no. 19 ;)

    great read. enjoyed that lads !

  2. I think we are all in favour of publicizing #20! Thanks! :) And everyone- maybe this year try some of the tasty smaller Irish craft beer breweries along with the Guinness! Dungarvan Brewing Company is one we’d recommend! (You can visit the Vibrant Ireland blog if you want to find out more.) No matter how you spell Paddy’s Day–just enjoy it!!

  3. and of course, one should be listening to (or playing) Irish music the whole year around…
    reason why it’s Paddy’s by the way is in Irish the name is Padraig (porrick, it’s pronounced like), and the the short of that is Paddy.

  4. A couple of points… St. Patrick’s Day isn’t necessarily a Roman Catholic Feast Day. St. Patrick is regarded as having brought Christianity to the island of Ireland (north and south) and, therefore, isn’t the patron saint of any one Christian denomination.

    Also, and as if to reinforce the previous point, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is Church of Ireland which is a Protestant, not Catholic, denomination.

    Readers may like to know that Patrick’s reputed burial site is in the Co. Down town of Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. Each year the town has its own St. Patrick’s Day parade and pilgrims lay a wreath on the Patron Saint’s large granite gravestone.

  5. I love good list!

    Thought I’d share this English translation of the 8th or 9th Century prayer known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate.

    Christ be with me, Christ within me,
    Christ behind me, Christ before me,
    Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
    Christ to comfort and restore me,
    Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
    Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
    Christ in the hearts of all that love me,
    Christ in the mouths of friend and stranger.

  6. Number 16 is wrong. A Nelson’s eye is literally a blind eye. Admiral Horatio Nelson, a British naval officer whose statue is in Trafalgar Square in London, was blinded in one eye early in his career. Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, so you are correct that he probably did ignore the pub opening ban in 1922.

  7. Heidi, we don’t mind sharing St. Patrick with you! As a matter of fact it is ok! You should know that in the 5th century the only Christianity that there was, was Catholic.
    Patrick himself was a convert to that Christianity. He was the son of a Roman occupier in England, captured and sold as a slave to Irish marauders. He tended sheep on the mountain side in Ireland for his masters for six years. God spoke to his heart in those six years. He escaped, returned to England, then made his way to Europe, became a Catholic, since that was Christianity at that time, heard the voice of the Irish people calling him back to Ireland. “Holy boy come back to us and teach us” legend has it reported to us. He returned to Ireland and converted the whole Island to Christianity.
    It wasn’t until the reformation that St. Patrick’s Cathedral was anything but Catholic. Or that St. Patrick was claimed to be anything other than a Catholic saint.
    After all, only the Catholic church designates, after exhaustive research into a candidates history, whether a person is a Saint. Granted in the early centuries there was not the research that there is today. That being said, during the reformation churches that were Catholic were confiscated, destroyed, burned. Many of the presend day churches in Ireland and Britian, built before the mid-1,500′s were Catholic. Remember Henry VIII made himself the head of the church of England and Ireland because he was the King, and on his sole authority. The Catholic people suffered mightly subsequently under him, his daughter ElizabethI, and Cromwell, etc.

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