Ireland has a rich tapestry of history and culture spanning thousands of years. St. Patricks Day, the 17th March, is probably one of the best known holiday celebrations in the western world due to the large numbers of people who can trace Irish ancestry.
The celebration itself is named for St Patrick, a 5th century Christian missionary. Patrick led a varied life, being born to a relatively prosperous family in late period Roman Britain he would have witnessed the beginning of the end of the Roman occupation in Britain. His story gains notoriety when he was kidnapped by pirates at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave, where for 6 years he looked after animals before escaping and returning back home.
Shortly after his return home he was ordained as a cleric and returned to Ireland in order to spread the message of Christianity to the people there. In later life he served as the 1st Bishop in Armagh and although little is known of his actual life his impact on the communities he worked with saw him being revered as the patron saint of Ireland as early as the 7th Century.
St Patrick is credited with Ireland’s adoption of the Shamrock, the three leaf clover, as a national symbol having used it as an illustration of the Holy Trinity in his teachings of Christianity. More famously St Patrick is credited with the banishing of snakes from Ireland after he was attacked during a ritual fast and leading to there being no snakes in Ireland to this day, although modern interpretations of fossil records seem to imply there may have been no snakes in Ireland since the end of the last Ice Age 12,500 years ago.
Another famous Irish folk story is that of the Leprechaun. Interestingly these are relatively modern stories and little evidence is found in ancient manuscripts for these folk tales. The story goes that the leprechauns, a type of male fairy, partook in mischief making and hid gold in pots at the end of rainbows, it is believed that this story is related to unrealistic goal setting as no one can reach the end of the rainbow.
In common with other magical stories Leprechauns had the power to grant three wishes should they be captured but true to their mischievous nature these often did not turn out as intended. Visit our website to discover our ‘pot of gold’ just waiting to be added to your collection.