Happy St Patrick’s Day

17 March 2014

In the late fourth or early fifth century, the possibly Welsh-born patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick, was captured by pirates and sold to slavery in Ireland. Six years later, he managed to escape and made his way to France, where he became a monk and subsequently a bishop, before returning to Ireland as a missionary in around 432. Although Ireland already had a bishop, Patrick was a more forceful advocate of Christianity and succeeded in suppressing the Druids both in terms of power and influence.

St Patrick has numerous legends associated with him; the shamrock which he used to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity and he is also alleged to have banished snakes from Ireland.

St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Ireland and is observed worldwide by people of Irish descent. Originally, the celebrations were very different to the modern-day festivities. Children used to proudly wear the crosses they had prepared the day before. A boy’s cross was made from a circle drawn on white paper, with elliptical lines to make different areas which were then filled with different colours and a girl’s cross was a cross wrapped in ribbons with a green rosette in the centre. Nowadays, the shamrock is more popular.

There are many dozens of births registered in England and Wales with the first name ‘St Patrick’ but interestingly, not all of them are registered in the March and June quarters. You might consider that a late registration of someone born on St Patrick’s Day might make it into the June quarter (registered in April) but not September or December?! Maybe some were just Irish and patriotic….?

As an aside, Edmund Kean who ‘we’ were meant to be descended from – according to my great-aunt Win – was born today in 1789. Unfortunately, since Win passed away, I have categorically proven that she wasn’t quite correct about our relationship to Edmund. We do have the surname Kean in our family tree but sadly, nothing to do with Edmund. Happy Birthday Edmund, anyway….

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