Monday, October 18

Saint Patrick: the true story behind the popular celebration

  • James Farrelly*
  • The Conversation

Man dressed as Bishop Saint Patrick.


Few perhaps know the origin of the party that most of the world celebrates by drinking and wearing green.

In 1997 I traveled with my students to Croagh Patrick, a mountain in County Mayo in Ireland.

It was part of a study abroad program on Irish literature taught at the University of Dayton.

I wanted my students to visit the place where, every July, thousands of pilgrims pay homage to Saint Patrick, who according to tradition fasted and prayed at the summit for 40 days.

There, the tour guide told the story of how Saint Patrick, while lying on his deathbed on March 17, 461, allegedly asked those around him to toast his trip to heaven with “a little drop of whiskey” for ease your pain.

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