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A reflection upon St Patrick’s Day

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A reflection upon St Patrick’s Day

To the Irish, St Patrick’s days is something very special. So I asked one of our parishionners if he would reflect and give his thoughts on St Patrick’s day and what it meant to him as an Irishman. This is what he wrote:-

 

What St Patrick means to me

In years gone by, many considered that the best start in life for an Irish boy was to be Christened Patrick. My older brother was named after the great saint, as well as was the custom in most Irish families. After Christmas day and Easter Sunday, St Patrick’s Day was the most important day in the Irish calendar. Over the years, many young men and women emigrated to many parts of the world but wherever they were, St Patrick’s Day was always celebrated- and the world knew you were Irish.

We were taught in school how Patrick arrived in Ireland as a boy slave and became a shepherd on the hills of County Antrim. In a dream one night he was told by an angel to escape to Rome to study and to become a priest. He should then return to Ireland in order to convert the people to the true God. Patrick duly followed the angel’s instruction and by 430 A.D. he was appointed Bishop and returned to Ireland.

The High King of Ireland at the time lived in Tara County Meath. St Patrick went to the hills of Tara where he lit what became known as the Pascal Fire. The king became alarmed and summoned Patrick to explain the reason for the fire. Patrick picked up a native weed with three leaves and used this to explain the Holy Trinity- God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Not only did Patrick convert the King to Christianity but also gave Ireland its emblem – the shamrock, which grows all over the country.

Back in Ireland, families always remembered absent loved ones living abroad by picking shamrock from the home fields and posting it to different parts of the world. What they didn’t realise then was that by the time it reached the U.S.S or other remote parts of the world (everything went by boat in those days) it had turned brown beyond its prime. Years later, an uncle home from the U.S.A said they always looked forward to receiving the shamrock knowing it had been picked by their mother or father. Many a tear was shed on picking up what was left of the shamrock.

As St Patrick’s day always fell midway during Lent and was a public holiday as well as  a Church Holiday, local organisations such as the Local Defence Force, the Red Cross and the Knights of Malta took part in a parade led by the local brass and wind band to a special St. Patrick’s Day Mass.

Football and other sporting events were held in the afternoon but for the majority of the young and not so young adults, the evening was the best time as the local dance hall was also the Church Hall. Dances were off the menu during Lent except on St Patrick’s night where a top band and a full house always guaranteed a good night for all.

Gerry Cole

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