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News : Irish Last Updated: Mar 18, 2011 - 2:55 AM

St. Patrick's Day March 17, 2011 - - the man who drove some of the snakes from Ireland!; The Spanish origins of the Irish
By Michael Hennigan, Founder and Editor of Finfacts
Mar 16, 2011 - 4:32 PM

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The water in the fountain on the North Lawn of the White House is dyed green in honour of St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2010.

St. Patrick's Day, March 17th, one of the most important dates in the Irish calendar has come around again. Patrick reputedly drove the snakes out of Ireland. There's some evidence that his crozier missed a few.

Patrick was also a rarity as a Briton who hadn't come to Ireland on a self-invitation! So Thursday is a day to celebrate and for some to "wet the shamrock" - - History Channel Video

For more on Patrick, the following is an extract from the St. Patrick's Festival site: Within the Christian calendar Patrick has long been remembered with fondness. This began as early as the ninth century AD with the Feast of St Patrick’s 'falling asleep' – in other words his passing on 17 March. The Book of Armagh included a note directing all monasteries and churches in Ireland to honour the memory of the saint by 'the celebration, during three days and three nights in mid-spring.

Fables about Patrick ridding Ireland of snakes or his use of the shamrock to explain the Trinity, still endure as part of modern St Patrick's Day folklore and custom.

St. Patrick's birthplace was probably Roman Britain – most likely Wales, but perhaps Scotland or France. Patrick was about sixteen years old when he was abducted and enslaved by Irish marauders, under their leader, Niall of the Nine Hostages. He worked as a shepherd on the slopes of Slemish Mountain in Country Antrim. During this time he prayed to the Christian God while captive in a pagan land.

After six years an angel came to him in a dream, prompting him to escape and seek out his homeland. After travelling for more than 200 miles by foot, he was eventually given passage on a boat travelling across the Irish Sea. His first destination was Britain, but he soon settled in France.

Patrick spent twenty years of his life as a monk in Marmoutier Abbey. There he again received a celestial visitation, this time calling him to return to the land where he has been enslaved, though now with a mission as a priest and converter. Patrick was called to Rome in 432 whereupon Pope Celestine bequeathed the honour of Bishop upon him before he left on his holy mission.

The Spanish origins of the Irish

DNA analysis shows that the ancestors of most Irish people came from the Iberian Peninsula, who moved north after the last Ice Age, which had depopulated Ireland.

Dr Daniel Bradley, genetics lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, has said that a study published in 2004, into Celtic origins, revealed close affinities with the people of Galicia, in North-Western Spain.

Historians have for long believed that the Celts, originally from the Alpine regions of central Europe, invaded the Atlantic islands in a massive migration 2,500 years ago.

However, DNA analysis debunks this theory  and conforms with the lack of archaeological evidence in Ireland, that the "Keltoi" who had invaded ancient Greece, had migrated in large numbers, to Ireland.

One in 12 Irish men could be descended from Niall Nóigiallach -Niall of the Nine Hostages, the High King who ruled at Tara, west of the site that became Dublin, from 379 to 405 AD, according to research conducted at Trinity College Dublin. He was the founder of the Uí Néill (which literally translated means "descendants of Niall") dynasty that ruled Ireland until the 11th century.

Finfacts article, Feb 2007: The National Geographic and IBM's Genographic Project: Charting the migratory history of the human species

Patrick and 24 of his followers arrived in Ireland in the winter of 432. In the Spring, Patrick decided to confront the high King of Tara, the most powerful King in Ireland. Patrick knew that if he had the King's support he would be free to take God's message to the people of Ireland.

Patrick and his followers were invited to Tara by the King of Laoghaire. While he was there he plucked a shamrock from the ground and tried to explain the to the druids and the King that the shamrock had three leaves just like God had three personas – The Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost. This was called the Trinity.

The Simpsons visit Ireland

Next part (Part 2 above is the beginning of the program!)

King Laoghaire was very impressed and chose to accept Christianity. He also gave Patrick the freedom to spread Christianity throughout Ireland.

St. Patrick is also known to have driven the snakes out of Ireland. However, the snakes were at that time a symbol of Paganism, and it was the Pagans that were driven out.

Patrick is thought to have died sometime between 463 AD and 493 AD. There is a dispute as to his place of burial; the site with the strongest claim seems to be Down Cathedral, where a large slab of rock on which the word Patric is inscribed protects 'the grave' of St Patrick.

Veneration of Patrick gradually assumed the status of a local cult; he was not simply remembered in Saul and Downpatrick, he was worshipped. Indeed, homage to Patrick as Ireland’s saint was apparent in the eight century AD. At this time Patrick's status of national apostle was made independently of Rome; he was claimed locally as a saint before the practice of canonisation was introduced by the Vatican. The veneration in which the Irish have held St Patrick is evidenced by the salutation, still common today, 'May God, Mary and Patrick bless you'.

Guinness - St Patrick's Day

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