St. Patrick’s Day started as a celebration of Ireland’s patron saint. During the 5th century, a shepherd was called to serve the people of Ireland through the Catholic church, taking on the Christian name Patrick.
According to legend, Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, but the island had no snakes at that time; this is most likely a metaphor for him converting the Irish to Christianity and driving out paganism. Another myth has Patrick using the Shamrock to teach the Holy Trinity.
The holiday falls on March 17, because that is the day Patrick died. Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and in Montserrat. The day is widely celebrated in America as a recognition of Irish heritage.
Celebrate your Irish heritage with our roots resources:
- Getting into Giffith’s Valuation
- Ancestral counties in Ireland
- Using church records to learn about your Irish forebears
- Finding your Irish ancestors online
- Search the 1901 Irish Census free online
- Researching Irish Catholic nuns
- Irish immigration through Canada
For more on St. Patrick’s Day, watch a video by the History Channel here.