Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lá Fhéile Pádraig

Lá Fhéile Pádraig in old Irish translates to "The Day of the Festival of Patrick", known today as Saint Patrick's Day.

My maternal side is Irish, my Grandparents migrated to the States in the late 1800's from Ireland. My Grandfather was born in Dublin, Ireland and my Grandmother, Roscrea, County Tipperary, Ireland. They belonged to the 'Church of Ireland', in the old country. After my Grandfather passed on, my Grandmother moved in with us. I have fond memories of observing St Patricks Day with my family and Grandmother.  So, I've always held a special place in my heart for Saint Patrick's Day.

Saint Patrick
The history of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who was born in the second half of the 4th century, is sketchy. Even his year of birth is uncertain, with some scholars hitting on 373 while others calculate 390. Similarly, the place where St Patrick was born cannot be confirmed. Some say he was born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland.

It is known that he was raised near a village called Banna Vemta Burniae but its location cannot be identified. It may have been lowland Scotland but is equally likely to have been Wales, which was under Roman control at the time.

Patrick's real name was probably Maewyn Succat. His father, Calpornius, was a Roman-British army officer and a deacon.

Despite this family involvement in the church, the young Patrick was not a believer. His life was ordinary, and completely unexceptional, until the age of 16. But dramatic events then occurred which set the history of St Patrick, and the history of Ireland, on a new course. The young man was kidnapped, along with many others, by Irish pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. According to his autobiographical Confessio, which survives, the next six years were spent imprisoned in the north of the island and he worked as a herdsmen of sheep and pigs on Mount Slemish in County Antrim.

During this period, he became increasingly religious. He considered his kidnapping and imprisonment as a punishment for his lack of faith and spent a lot of time in prayer.  After a vision led him to stow away on a boat bound for Britain, Patrick escaped back to his family.

There he had a dream that the Irish were calling him back to Ireland to tell them about God. This inspired him to return to Ireland as a priest, but not immediately. At this point he didn't feel adequately prepared for a life as a missionary. His studies took him to France where he was trained in a monastery, possibly under St Germain, the bishop of Auxerre, and he dedicated this period of his life to learning. It was some 12 years before he returned to Irish shores as a bishop.

The next chapter of the history of St Patrick is better known than his earlier life. He landed at Strangford Loch, County Down. Although he is often credited with having brought Christianity to Ireland, he was not the first to have done so. An earlier mission had seen Palladius preach to the Irish.

Patrick's success was in the scale of his conversion of the native Irish, most of whom were pagans. They also spoke Irish, so he must have learned the language in order to communicate with them so convincingly.  The history of St Patrick is littered with periods of imprisonment when his teachings had upset local chieftains or Celtic Druids, but he always escaped or gained freedom by presenting his captors with gifts.

For twenty years he travelled the length and breadth of the island, baptising people and establishing monasteries, schools and churches as he went. By the time he died, on  March 17, 461 (or 493, depending on which date you started your calculation), this date ,  March 17 has been commemorated as St Patrick's Day ever since. He was buried either in Downpatrick, County Down, or in Armagh.

Saint Patricks Day
Saint Patrick's Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast, on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

 In modern day Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was traditionally a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use interest in St. Patrick’s Day to drive tourism and showcase Ireland and Irish culture to the rest of the world. Today, approximately 1 million people annually take part in Ireland ‘s St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin, a multiday celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions and fireworks shows.

The first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day took place not in Ireland but in the United States. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia.

Myths and Facts
St. Patrick Was Irish: Although no one knows for sure where St. Patrick was born, based on his own account it was most likely in southwestern Britain. Ireland’s patron saint was actually 'English.' The problem, is that no one in the 5th century was what we would call 'English.' Rather, the people living in present day England were Romanized Celts, or Britons. So St. Patrick is more accurately called a Celtic Briton, son of a low-level Roman official.

St. Patrick Was the First Christian Missionary to Ireland: St. Patrick was not the first Christian missionary in Ireland, though he was certainly the most successful.The best known missionary before Patrick was Palladius, sent by Pope Celestine in 431 A.D. to minister to the Irish. There were others as well, Auxilius and Iserninus worked in the south of Ireland while Secondinas preached in the north and east.

St Patrick Drove the Snakes out of Ireland: There’s only one problem with this story, Ireland never had any snakes to drive away. We do know that St. Patrick was a missionary to Ireland. His goal was to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. History  tells us, he was very successful. We know the pagans of Ireland as the Druids. Their symbol was the snake.Today, some believe that St. Patrick only banished a sacrificial Druid religion, an expulsion symbolically represented by the banishment of snakes.

Green beer: Coloring beer green is an American thing. Guinness Stout is the most popular beer/ale in Ireland. Guinness Stout would be impossible to color green , because of it's very dark brown color.

Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional Irish dish: Well yes and no. It is much more of an Irish American dish. The Irish tradition was bacon and cabbage.What we think of today as Irish corned beef is actually Jewish corned beef thrown into a pot with cabbage and potatoes. The early Irish and Jewish immigrants often lived in the same areas of east coast cities, the Irish often purchased their meat at the local Jewish butcher, since beef was cheaper than bacon in America, beef was the meat of choice.The corned beef they made was from brisket, a kosher cut of meat from the front of the cow. Since brisket is a tougher cut, the salting and cooking processes transformed the meat into the extremely tender, flavorful corned beef we know of today.
My Irish Grandmother claimed she never saw corned beef until she came to America, never in Ireland. It was never served in our home, on St. Patricks Day we either had roast lamb or a pork roast , served with potatoes, peas and carrots, and Irish cole slaw.

I'm proud of my Irish heritage, as well as all the ethnic groups I descend from......but today it's all about the Irish.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh

(St. Patrick’s Day blessings to you!)


  1. Molly Ann Bunch SmiddyMarch 17, 2015 at 1:50 PM

    Happy St. Patrick's Day to our cousin Don from his two favorite, and only, East TN canine cousins, Molly and Barney! ♥♥♥

    1. Well hello Molly and Barney, I bet you didn't know both your names are very common given names in Ireland !!
      Thanks for the St Patrick's Day greeting !!

    2. Molly Ann Bunch SmiddyMarch 17, 2015 at 6:01 PM

      Barney and I didn't even think of that, but I have become aware that my Grandmother's family is Irish too!! So maybe our human Mama knew that when she named us???

    3. I bet she didn't mistake either of you for an Irish Wolf Hound, you ain't tall enough.......

    4. Molly Ann Bunch SmiddyMarch 17, 2015 at 8:54 PM

      Dynamite comes in small packages, cousin Don. Don't let a "short wheelbase" fool you. LOL

  2. Molly Ann Bunch SmiddyMarch 17, 2015 at 1:51 PM

    We really enjoy your Blog!!!

    1. I'm so glad you do !! I try and make it 'pup' friendly.

    2. Molly Ann Bunch SmiddyMarch 17, 2015 at 5:58 PM

      Since my pictures and DNA results are on here, I think it's very pup friendly cousin Don!! How many other canine babies have had their DNA tested and posted on a real Blog? I'm a STAR!! And so is Barney, sort of.........Bwahaha

    3. Just don't let some outsider try and claim you are a 'Portuguese Water Dog', I don't think you or Barney are, LOL

    4. Molly Ann Bunch SmiddyMarch 17, 2015 at 8:58 PM

      You know what a Shillelagh is don't you, cousin Don? Our Mama has one and knows how to use it. I don't think anyone will insult us calling us any bad thing, cause that ain't all she "carries." Legally I might add. Bow wow!!!!!!!!!!!

    5. Of course I know what a Shillelagh is, I also happen to have one. I use it to fight off banshee's LOL