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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

March 15, 2012

It makes perfect sense that many nationalities celebrate St. Patrick’s Day—Saint Patrick himself wasn’t Irish. He was born in Britain in 387. When he was 16, Irish kidnappers snatched him from his family’s estate. (Accountants will be interested to know that his father became a Christian deacon… probably for tax incentives he received and not because he was overly devout, according to the History Channel’s website.)


Saint Patrick escaped after six years, and trained to become a priest in Britain. He later returned to Ireland to spread the Catholic religion. Many legends are associated with Saint Patrick. He famously banished all of Ireland’s snakes in 441 after fasting for 40 days on the top of a 2,500-foot mountain in County Mayo in northwestern Ireland. People still flock to the mountain, Croagh Patrick, as a religious pilgrimage.


Historians believe that Saint Patrick died on March 17, 461. The Roman Catholic feast of St. Patrick was celebrated in Ireland sometime since the 9th or 10th century on March 17th. Irish immigrants didn’t forget the day. In fact, the holiday’s first parade took place in New York in 1762 courtesy of Irish soldiers in the English military. In 1903, the Westminster parliament in England passed a bill declaring St. Patrick’s Day a public holiday in Ireland, which was still under English rule. 


Today, over a million people attend a four-day St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Dublin and observances extend into small parishes. It’s also a big sporting day. The All-Ireland club hurling and Gaelic football finals are in Dublin and the high school rugby championships are held throughout the country.


So when you’re enjoying drink specials at the local chain restaurant or putting on your green top hat, take a second to reflect on the real Saint Patrick.


Molaimid Lá le Pádraig iontach duit!
(Wishing you a very Happy St. Patrick’s day! In Irish Gaelic)


This blog was written by my son, Andy Mendlowitz, author of Ireland’s Professional Amateurs, a great book available at and

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