Well hello everybody, Seven, yes, only seven days into the forty days of lent. You can look at this in two ways, another thirty three days to go, Jasus!, or I’ve made a pretty miserable attempt at a ‘Lenten’ sacrifice, it’s early days so I’ll start again tomorrow.
Back to the early morning exercises while listening to Shay Byrne’s Risin’ Time on RTE radio and a lunch-time cycle in the glorious sunshine that we have been so kindly gifted after our winter of discontent (and relentless storms)
The mid-week glass of wine is off the menu and the weekend fry’s have been replaced with a ‘Duck’ egg and a fat free English Market sausage and on that particular subject, the amount of weight lost to-date, Not-A-Sausage. Feeling good though, so how bad.
St Patrick’s Day
Saint Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick”) is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated annually on 17 March. Not alone in Ireland but around the world. Most of the world’s most famous landmarks will go ‘Green’ for this famous and celebrated day.
Saint Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian feast day in the early seventeenth century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland),the Eastern Orthodox Church and Lutheran Church.
The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, as well as celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, céilithe, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks.
Christians also attend church services, and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption.
St. Patrick is the beloved patron saint of Ireland. The Irish are famous for spinning exaggerated tales, so despite the infamous stories traditionally attributed to St Patrick, quite little is actually known about his life. We do know that St Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies. As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him. He was held captive for six years, living a solitary, lonely life as a shepherd. It was then that he became a devout Christian, embracing his religion for solace. From his writing, we know that a voice, which he believed to be that of God, spoke to him in a dream, urging him to leave Ireland. He did. Walking nearly 200 miles, Patrick escaped to Britain and undertook seriously religious training. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.
Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland, March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.
Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick’s message. Because Patrick was familiar with the Irish language and culture from his years of captivity, he chose to incorporate Irish ritual and symbols into his teachings rather than to eradicate Irish beliefs. Thus, was born the Celtic cross.
Patrick superimposed the sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the traditional Christian cross so that the result would seem more natural to the Irish. Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonised as well).
Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461 at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland where he had built the first church.
The story goes that the first St Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York City on March 17, 1762. Irish Americans were not the first, however, to celebrate the feast of St Patrick. Irish families have traditionally celebrated the feast of St Patrick as a religious holiday for thousands of years,a great pause during the Christian season of Lent when prohibitions were lifted for one day of dancing, drinking and feasting on meat. Every village, town and city in Ireland on March 17th. will celebrate St.Patrick’s day with a parade.
The St.Patrick’s Day Parade
Limerick had the best parades in the world as we had the first ‘All American’ marching band. ‘The Limerick City Brass and Reed Marching Band’ or better known as Sammy Benson’s band. They rocked our St. Patrick’s Day. Better still they drew a crown of visiting ‘American High School Band’s’ to Limerick (Not sure which came first, Sammy’s band or the visitors fro the USA.)
There were hundreds of ‘John Fitzgerald Kennedy High School Marching Band’s’ from Baltimore, Delaware, Wisconsin, Newark, Boston, Chicago etc. There were literally thousands. So many came in fact the the International Band Parade came about and we had two parades in Limerick.
Marching in a parade was a source of great pride for every Irish person but looking out at the dry mild (13deg.) day I see today, March 17th. 2014, bears no resemblance to the St. Patrick’s Day parades of bygone years. We were drenched to the skin, frozen to the bone, bored to tears and weary, so very weary standing in Sarsfield’s Barracks waiting to start the long stop/go march to many an ending point including Honan’s Quay (opposite Barrington’s if fading memory serves me correct).
We were completely mad. as we got older we left it to the up and coming cubs, scouts, the FCA, An Slua Muiri and sporting clubs to fill our soggy boots, shoes and sandals.
I heard the International Band Parade was on in Limerick yesterday. Jeeze, that was the highlight of the year for all us red blooded young fellas in Limerick. The American’ high school bands marching quick time down O’Connell Street and rest assured it was led by the baton twirling perma-smiled Miss Congenialities from all across America, who always caught my eye and gave me the biggest friendliest smile that no Irish colleen had ever done (A scowl was more the rage from the rainsoaked Mna na hEireann, and would you blame them).
But these exotic smiling angles (much like Farrah Fawcett-Majors smiled out of the TV from the ‘permanently sunny’ Hollywood America) looked into our eyes, saw the handsome Irish guys perched precariously on top of rusted railings outside of the grand facades of O’Connell street and smiled directly at us Irish boys. I swear they spotted me, I’m sure they did and I was immediately besotted.
Oh! Youth, how wonderful and simple it was back then. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.