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St. Patrick

Shamrocks are Not Lucky and St. Patrick is Not Irish

So what is St. Patrick’s Day all about anyway?

There’s more to St. Patrick’s Day than green beer and hangovers. In fact, the celebration of St. Patrick has been observed for over 1,000 years! The origins of the stick on orange beard and leprechaun hat may actually surprise you, and wouldn’t you know there’s a legend behind all of it.

The Legend of St. Patrick


St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain around the 5th century and kidnapped as a slave to Ireland at the youthful age of 16. After six years of being held captive, he converted to Christianity and escaped, only to return to the “Emerald Island” and live a life as a Christian missionary. He died on March 17, 461 A.D., and was forgotten by most.

Centuries passed as the Irish legends and mythology that Ireland is so famous for evolved, and St. Patrick became the Patron Saint of Ireland. Thus, St. Patrick’s Day was observed and has grown into a worldwide celebration of the Irish and the Irish-at-heart.

Fun Facts about St. Patrick’s Day

The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held in New York City on March 17, 1762! It was a small pub crawl to an Irish pub in Manhattan by a group of Irish and British soldiers.

St. Patrick’s Day falls in the middle of Lent however, prohibitions were traditionally lifted on this day. This is what started the tradition of going cray cray on meat and cabbage.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that pubs were allowed to be open in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day. Perhaps this is why everyone goes bananas over drinking on this Christian holiday.

The Myths of St. Patrick and Other Irish Lore

St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland when he cleansed the island of Paganism. Side note: There were never any snakes in Ireland.

St. Patrick explained the holy trinity with the three leaves of the Shamrock. It became the official symbol of Irish pride and its color green soon followed. Side note: There’s no such thing as a Shamrock! Clover yes, Shamrock nope! The word “Shamrock” loosely describes a young clover however, it has not been scientifically linked to any particular clover. Furthermore, the symbolism of “luck” in relation to the clover does not have Irish origins.

For  scientific research findings of the Shamrock debate click here

The pre-Christian pagan religion of the Druids also found the number three to be the sacred number of “Triple Goddesses”.

Ireland is known for its entrances to the “Other World”, places where fairies party all day. One of the more famous portals is known as the Hill of Tara in County Meath just north of Dublin.

A leprechaun is actually a fairy, just a naughty drunk one.

The Banshee is known to give a whaling screech to warn of death in a full-blooded Irish family.

Fionn mac Cumhaill  Fynn McCool is known as the mythical and magical warrior of the Fianna (a race of giant people from ancient Ireland). One of the many legends of this warrior was when he scared the contending Scottish giant Cuhullin into running so fast all the way back to Scotland that, he created Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin, Ireland

courtesy of this is from the festival launch shoot Feb 2014
courtesy of this is from the festival launch shoot Feb 2014

In just two more days the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin, Ireland will begin its celebration. This event that dates to 1995 has grown to become one of the largest observances of heritage, culture, and history in the world. “Let’s Make History” is the theme for 2014, with a showcase of daily events leading up to the famed, “St. Patrick’s Day Parade”. This year the “Past, Present, and Future” themes are initiated as part of a three-year journey through time in Ireland. With 2014 kicking off the “Past”, 2015 the “Present”, and 2016 the “Future”, there’s something to connect with every year.

For more information on what’s on for the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin, Ireland visit

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Christa Thompson

Christa Thompson is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. She started traveling the world in 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

9 thoughts on “Shamrocks are Not Lucky and St. Patrick is Not Irish

  1. Fun and fascinating article, thanks! I have heard that the “snakes” that St. Patrick drove out of Ireland were the pagans. He drove the devils (snakes) out of Ireland when he spread Christianity. Cool, huh?

  2. That’s what I LOVE about you, why couldn’t you have been my history teacher growing up I actually would of loved the subject. As always,, Great Read! 🙂

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