By Jim Fogarty
Although it is over one and a half thousand years since St. Patrick lived on the Island of Ireland he is still remembered fondly in a great act of belief. Each country has an icon to remember and the self-educated man has caught the imagination of Irish people and those of Irish decent and those with no connection with the country. The latter obviously want to join with us in our great tradition. The magnification of our heritage has gripped all mankind.
Although the name Patrick (or its variations) – Paddy, Paddie, Paudie, Patic, Pat, Patsy , Patricius, Patrice or Padraig are revered, it is surprising the few Irish children who made any hall of fame that carry the name.
Indeed there has been but one President of Ireland named Patrick – Paddy Hillary; while we had no Taoisigh bearing the famous Irish name.
Out of 226 members of the Irish legislature, there are but four Patricks: TDs Carey and Rabitte and Senators Moylan and Burke.
In the Church there are few administrators named after the patron saint but we had Bishop Patrick Brady, of Dromore, Bishop Patrick Burke, Elphin, Bishop Patrick Casey, Ross, Bishop Patrick Collier, Ossory, Bishop Patrick Dorrian, Down and Connor, Bishop Patrick Finegan, Kilmore, Bishop Patrick Kennedy Killaloe and Bishop Gilla Patrick, Bishop of Dublin (1074 – 1084). The current membership of the Irish Bishops’ Conference comprises the Bishops (or Diocesan Administrators) of the 26 dioceses together with the four auxiliary Bishops, but no Patrick.
In the Anglican Church there are two listed. Patrick William Rooke is the current Bishop of Tuam, Killala, and Achonry and Patricia ‘Pat’ Storey who has been the Bishop of Meath and Kildare since 2013. She is the first female bishop in the Church of Ireland and the first female Anglican bishop in Ireland and Great Britain.
In Irish sport the Patricks that stand out are – soccer – Bonner (Donegal), Mulligan (Dublin), Coad (Waterford), Saward (Cork). In the GAA – football – Spillane (Kerry), Collier (Meath), McGarty (Leitrim), O’Brien (Meath), Moriarty (Armagh) and Doherty (Down). Hurling – Phelan (Kilkenny), Stakelum (Tipperary), Barry (Cork).
Phelan was the only Patrick to make the hurling or football team of the Millennium; Mullins and Taffee in Horse Racing. In motor racing Hopkins (Belfast), athletics Coyle (Louth) and the Tipperary pair of Fahy and Fitzgerald. Harrington (Cork) from the game of golf. But still not bad for a man who was christened Maewyn Succat; he adopted Patrick or Patricius upon becoming a priest!
An aspect of the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is of course the toasting of the Saint with alcohol (taken of course after the religious, sporting events and parades have finished!). Guinness (is the main beverage) so long associated with our Irish culture; it is estimated that thirteen millions pints of the “Black Stuff” will be downed world wide on the day. Definitely an Irish custom!
For those not too inebriated as the darkness falls, there is a great repertoire of traditional ballads (no matter what geographical area you come from) to while away the late hours.
It often struck me in the Irish taverns in London, as the fading day passed, why the expats were so sad as the ballads tapered off and why an old Englishman said I cannot blame the ‘Paddies’ for leaving home when he heard the words –“a blight came o’er the praties; My sheep, my cattle died; My rent and taxes went unpaid, I could not them redeem And that’s the cruel reason – why I left old Skibbereen.”
As every town and village makes some effort to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day make sure you are part of it in 2015.
May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day wherever you are domiciled.