I’ve never really celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day. I’ve visited Ireland twice, the first time as a baby, and the second time on a one day business trip to Dublin. Claire and I have talked about going, but Ireland is the Emerald Isle, and what we’ve learnt about places like Umbria, the green heart of Italy, and lake districts, is that the reason they’re green and have lakes is that it rains a lot of the time. But I must go, and I must celebrate Saint Patrick’s day. Why, you may ask. I’ll tell you. My mother and father met at a dance in the scout hall in Bexleyheath on Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s at least as significant as my birthday.

Saint Patrick was probably born in the latter part of roman rule in Britain. His place of birth is speculated as being perhaps Ravenglass in Cumbria, or Carlisle. It has to be reasonably near the coast, because he was captured by Irish pirates, who took him to Ireland as a slave. He was sixteen at the time. He worked as a sheep herder for six years before escaping and persuading the captain of a ship to take him back to England.

Patrick studied at Auxerre in France, and Saint Germanus of Auxerre ordained him into the priesthood. Patrick’s writings say that he had a vision in which he was called back to Ireland, so that’s why he returned. Much of what we know about Saint Patrick seems to stem from his declaration at his own trial. His accusers claimed that he accepted gifts from wealthy women, and charged for baptisms and ordinations.

Saint Patrick made the shamrock an Irish national symbol by using it’s three leaves to represent the holy trinity. Legend says that Saint Patrick banished snakes from Ireland. However Gaius Julius Solinus wrote that Ireland was well known to be snake free around two hundred years earlier. However Ireland came to be snake free, that’s another good reason for me to visit. I hate snakes.

The illustration for this post was again painted by AI. I asked ChatGBT to paint Saint Patrick being captured by pirates. Well it may be a pirate ship, but I can’t make out which man on deck is Saint Patrick. AI should have painted a halo over him.