St. Patrick's Day myths



It is time the Irish reclaimed St. Patrick's Day as their own. This site is a humorous response to all the erroneous nonsense that goes on throughout the American continent on 17th March in the name of the good gentleman.
First of all it may surprise you to know that St. Patrick's Day was not traditionally celebrated in Ireland in the same way it is in America and we most definitely did not drink green beer. 
St. Patrick's Day was first and foremost a religious celebration in the old country. The colour most often associated with St. Patrick was blue which was also the colour of the old Irish flag.
The Irish shamrock is a small leafed plant with THREE leaves, not four as commonly found on Canadian St. Patrick's Day merchandise (made in China).
If you want to get botanically picky, the original used by St. Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity was probably hop clover (trifolium minus), white clover (trifolium repens), wood sorrel (oxalis acetosella) or the black medic (medicago lupulina) - not the huge leafed oxalis often sold in America - remember the old Irish song is "The Dear Little Shamrock". The plant commonly sold nowadays at Covent Garden as shamrock is trifolium minus, a small yellow-flowered clover, and the same plant is now used as shamrock in Ireland in the counties of Antrim, Down, Meath, Fermanagh, Dublin, Wicklow, Carlow, Westmeath, Wexford, Limerick, Waterford, Cork, and Kerry. This plant, in present usage, has the greatest claim to the name of true shamrock.
The rare mutation of a four leafed clover was revered by pre Christian Druids and is considered lucky if you are fortunate enough to find one. Nowadays Oxalis deppei (a plant which naturally has four leaves) is used as a good luck plant. However it is not a true clover - just a lookalike. Perhaps when it is used on St. Patrick's Day it is meant to symbolise the luck o' the Irish, but PLEASE don't call it a shamrock!
As for corned beef - well...the Irish never ate the stuff.  Now, it has been pointed out to me that James Joyce mentions it in The Dubliners. That may be so, but Dublin city has always been culturally more English than Irish. Beef was corned in and around the Cork region of Ireland from the late 1600s ( when the English took control) to the early 1800s but this was almost exclusively for export to England and Europe and was not commonly eaten by the natives. In my experience most people in Ireland agree that corned beef first appeared in cans during the War and to my knowledge that is the only way it is still available there.
(But the Americans ARE right about the cabbage!)


Just so you won't forget, here is a little poem!



I just want to put something straight
About what should be on your plate,
If it's corned beef you're makin'
You're sadly mistaken,
That isn't what Irishmen ate.

If you ever go over the pond
You'll find it's of bacon they're fond,
All crispy and fried,
With some cabbage beside,
And a big scoop of praties beyond.

Your average Pat was a peasant
Who could not afford beef or pheasant.
On the end of his fork
Was a bit of salt pork,
As a change from potatoes 'twas pleasant.
This custom the Yanks have invented,
Is an error they've never repented,
But bacon's the stuff
That all Irishmen scoff,
With fried cabbage it is supplemented.

So please get it right this St. Paddy's.
Don't feed this old beef to your daddies.
It may be much flasher,
But a simple old rasher,
Is what you should eat with your tatties.

Glossary -

praties (pronounced pray-tees) - another word for potatoes

tatties - another word for potatoes

Did you know that St. Patrick was not Irish? He was born in Britain, possibly Scotland or Wales. St. Patrick's Day is essentially a religious holiday in Ireland and was first celebrated as a secular holiday in the USA. There were already Christians in Ireland before the arrival of St.Patrick.

Funny sayings, witty comments and bright spakes abound in the colourful language of Northern Ireland. Visit Brightspakes for a titter at the local banter.

Happy St. Patrick's Day
to you all!

The Grave of St. Patrick
Saul, Downpatrick, Co.Down, Northern Ireland