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History

 

The Irish have observed St Patrick's Day as a religious festival for thousands of years. Thought to have been born in the tiny Welsh village of Banwen, in his early life St Patrick was captured by raiders and sold to Ireland as a slave. He escaped aged 22, under the direction of an angel, and spent twelve years in a monastery where he adopted the name of Patrick. One night he heard voices urging him to return to Ireland and thus became one of the first Christian missionaries in the Emerald Isle.

 
As one of many missionaries in Ireland, it is agreed his work had the most impact. He established the Church throughout Ireland, cementing it on lasting foundations: building churches, opening schools and putting monasteries together. Famous for making no distinction of class in his preaching, he was himself ready for imprisonment or death at any point. Tradition also says that he was responsible for driving all the snakes out of Ireland.
 
The Shamrock

St Patrick himself used the shamrock in the 5th century to teach people about Christianity as he travelled around Ireland. Legend has it he preached that each of the three leaves illustrated the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit of the Holy Trinity. In the 19th century the small shamrock became a symbol of rebellion against the English and was strongly linked with Irish identity. Anyone seen wearing the shamrock risked death by hanging. These days the shamrock appears at St Patrick's Day largely as decoration and enjoys much merrier associations.

St Patrick's Day

Patrick died in AD 493 according to the latest reconstruction of old Irish annals. It is believed that 17th March was his death date and thus became the date popularly associated with him - now commonly known as St Patrick's Day.

The tradition of parties and parades on the day was first introduced in America (indeed the pubs were closed in Ireland on St Patrick's Day until the 1970s), but the tradition has spread to all parts of the world with substantial Irish populations, and the celebrations in London and Dublin now rival those in New York, Chicago and Boston.

 

St Patrick's Day in London 2010

The Parade 2010

The Parade 2010

The official London celebrations - that's the ones that don't revolve around pubs, Guinness and more pubs - take place on Sunday 1...

The Parade 2010
 
 
 
Events 2010

Events 2010

London's events calendar is always crammed with a raft of diverse entertainment but this St Patrick's Day London is joining in the...

Events 2010
 
 
 
Irish Pubs

Irish Pubs

The Irish pub is a phenomenon around the world. The wholesome blend of traditional, rustic decor, folk music, good-humour and Guin...

Irish Pubs
 
 
 
Irish Food

Irish Food

Guinness and oysters are traditional Irish fare, best enjoyed in the hubbub of a pub on St Patrick's Day. For something a lit...

Irish Food
 
 
Irish Shopping

Irish Shopping

London's shopping industry offers a colourful mix of global influences on our high streets. With Ireland's rich heritage in fashio...

Irish Shopping
 
 
 
Catholic Churches

Catholic Churches

Going to mass on St Patrick's Day is a tradition that has spanned decades. Many of the Catholic churches in London ...

Catholic Churches
 
 
 
Irish Hotels

Irish Hotels

If you're coming to London over the St Patrick's Day festivities why not book yourself into an Irish hotel where you can slee...

Irish Hotels
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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