St. Patrick’s Day History, Lore and Trivia

By Joe Sinagra | The Save Jersey Blog

St. Patrick’s birthplace, Save Jerseyans, was said to be in either Scotland or Roman England. His birth name was Maewyn Succat. Though Patricius was his Romanicized name, he was later known as Patrick. The son of a Roman-British army officer, he ended up in Ireland because he was kidnapped and sold into slavery by a band of pirates that landed in south Wales.

After six years of slavery, according to his writings, a voice spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland. To this end, it is said that Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where he was held, to the Irish coast.

After his escape, Patrick apparently experienced a second revelation—an angel in a dream telling him to return to Ireland as a missionary

He later returned to Ireland with the pope’s blessing where he converted the Gaelic Irish, who were then mostly Pagans to Christianity, and served as a missionary there for the rest of his life. Seventh century biographers enthusiastically claimed that he converted all of Ireland to Christianity.

st patrickPatrick’s mission in Ireland lasted for over 30 years. Though originally a Catholic holy day, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday . . . or ‘be an Irish Day ‘. And the Irish have adopted his story as part of their national history in every corner of the globe where they settled and prospered. The Catholic feast day for this most-loved of Irish saints has become a holiday in celebration of the Irish and Irish culture.

An Irish tale which may also hold an element of truth about it: Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity. He apparently employed it to explain how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. His converted followers adopted the custom of wearing the shamrock on his feast day, and shamrock green remains the essential color for today’s festivities and celebrations.

Things that appear to be, but aren’t quite Irish?

If you run into a woman in a leprechaun costume, sexy or otherwise on St. Patrick’s Day, be aware that she probably isn’t a real leprechaun. She probably has no pot ‘o gold either. According to A History of Irish Fairies by Carolyn White, there is no record of lady leprechauns, which makes you wonder how these tiny figures procreate. Leprechauns are known to be quite clever, but still…? Also mind-boggling: before Friends, Jennifer Aniston’s career in Hollywood truly began with her role in the low-budget 1993 horror film Leprechaun (she wasn’t a leprechaun though—that would be ridiculous).

It is commonplace for the shortened version of the holiday to be spelled as St. Patty’s or St. Paddy’s Day in America. However, spelling it the former way gets some people seriously fired up because in Ireland; “Patty” is short for Patricia, not Patrick. The true Irish spelling of “Patrick” is Pádraig, so the only way to shorten it is Paddy. One Irishman living in Canada went so far as to create the website to hammer home that it should always be PADDY. How upset do the authentically Irish get when they see “Patty” used in place of Patrick? “It’s “like nails on a chalkboard,” the site explains. “It gnaws at them. It riles them up. It makes them want to fight… you know, more than usual.”

shamrockKillian’s Irish Red has been brewed exclusively in America for decades. Coors purchased the name in 1980, and the suds are made in factories in Colorado.

Green Beer? The Irish don’t bother with this foolish malarkey. As one Irish ex-pat living in America explained it when being interrogated about real St. Patrick’s Day customs back home, “If you dyed beer green in Ireland, they’d punch you.”

The song “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” recorded by Bing Crosby among others, is often categorized as a traditional Irish folk song. In realty: it was written and composed by a trio of New York songwriters.

The cereal ‘Lucky Charms’ is made by Minneapolis-based food manufacturer General Mills and has nothing to do with Ireland or Irish culture.

And while you are celebrating at Bennigan’s, Beef O’Brady’s, Tilted Kilt, keep in mind that none of these Irish- or Celtic-themed American bar-and-grill chains have origins in Ireland or are authentic to Irish pubs and cuisine. These restaurant concepts were born in Georgia, Florida, and Las Vegas, respectively, and none has locations in Ireland.

But who cares when you are among friends and the wearing of the green! We’re all adopted Irishmen and women today. Enjoy responsibly! And happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Joe Sinagra
About Joe Sinagra 73 Articles
Joe is a U.S. Air Force veteran, small businessman and former candidate for the New Jersey legislature and New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District. He continues to actively work for GOP causes and candidates in the Central New Jersey region.


  1. We’re throwing a St. Patrick’s Day bash instead of holding our regular Republican Executive Committee meeting. We’re hoping to meet new people and encourage them to join us!

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