Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Sláinte, mes amis!
Welcome mes bloggy chums... Fàilte, in fact.
I think you know where I'm going with this one today, non?! Given the date, and all?
May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire....
And you know of course that today is St. Patrick's Day? So, I tottered feverishly in through Lady Wiki's darkened portal early this morning, to find out a little bit about the Sainted Patrick, feted on this day, practically all across the world... Probably wherever there is an Irish Pub on the planet, which is probably everywhere, given my experience and travel to date!
Did I mention yet that when we holidayed in Nice in France a couple of summers ago, our lovely lady taxi driver was pointing out all the Irish pubs in the city... GJ and I snorted disdainfully... We hadn't we come all the way to the chic and cosmopolitan south of La Belle France, only to spend evenings in a mock-Irish Pub?! Shockingly, in fact, we found we were tootling past and stopping by one of the pubs she'd pointed out most evenings, on our way back from dinner and en route to our lovely mediaeval apartment in that quartier of Old Nice...
The staff in the pub, both French and Irish, were unstintingly lovely and charming... Grizz was able to keep in touch with his friends at home for an hour or so via their free Internet service, as long as we bought a drink in the bar, (some hardship that. Mind you, we were drinking French beer, to stay loyal to la France, 'though!), and the craic, as they say, was good for the heart...especially one odd Hawaiian evening when the oaken floor was covered in sand. and the staff wore palm-tree-patterned shirts and Lei!
Saint Patrick (estimated AD 387 - AD 461); La Wiki tells me that Saint Patrick (Latin: Patricius, Irish: Naomh Pádraig), is said to have been born Maewyn Succat, a Roman Britain-born Christian missionary who is the patron saint of Ireland along with Brigid of Kildare and Columba.
He was educated at a monastery and school of divinity founded by Saint Illtud, often called "the oldest university in the world". It was distinguished for educating Taliesin, Saint Gildas, Saint Samson, Saint Paul Aurelian and possibly Saint David, the Welsh Saint.
When he was about sixteen, Patrick, was captured by Irish raiders and taken from his native Wales as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the church, he later returned to Ireland as a missionary in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he worked and no link can be made between Patrick and any church. By the eighth century he had become the patron saint of Ireland". Funny that, such influence and yet based on so little evidence?
"...Evidence does not allow the dates of Patrick's life to be fixed with certainty, but it appears that he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the fifth century. Two letters from him survive, along with later hagiographies from the seventh century onwards. Uncritical acceptance of the Annals of Ulster would imply that he lived from 340 to 460, and ministered in what is modern day northern Ireland from 428 onwards". Now, living to be 100 in those hardened times would have been something, would it not?!
"On 17th March St.Patrick's day is celebrated to remember him and what he did.
Pious legend credits Patrick with banishing snakes from the island, but evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes;
One suggestion is that snakes referred to the serpent symbolism of the Druids of that time and place, as shown for instance on coins minted in Gaul, or that it could have referred to beliefs such as Pelagianism, symbolized as “serpents”.
Legend also credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the concept of the Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a 3-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian belief of 'three divine persons in the one God'".
St. Patrick's Day is a strange old celebration, it always appears to me...
No-one seems to agree that the fellow even existed; He may have been a mixture of two significant historical figures, who knows?...
And even those of us who aren't Irish seem to have adopted the fete as a chance to have a good old knee's up, a drop of the Black Stuff, (for Fhina has always been partial to a pint of Guinness!), with a parade of green leprechauns, porcelain skinned, flame-haired maidens, with bunches of shamrocks, and a 'point' clenched in our palms!
In fact, the day seems to have become synonymous with the ale itself, and marketing... With the Irish themselves apparently only forming a committee as late as 1996 so as to kick start the celebrations of the Saint's Day, as a way to focus attention on increasing tourism to their beautiful Emerald Isle... Of course, the day itself has grown like Topsy ever since...
And we so want to belong, don't we? Even if we have no Irish blood coursing through our veins... Oh, to have a tribe we can identify with is a wonderful thing... Then we have history together - a shared, fellow-feeling; We can have a laugh, buy each other a jar, and be brought back to when the world was a far smaller and simpler place; Back where we knew our neighbours and we could leave the back door unlocked... And is that so bad?
May you have the hindsight to know where you've been
the foresight to know where you're going
and the insight to know when you're going too far...
Sláinte - Cheers!