Category Archives: History reviews

On St. Patty 2022 – and the Way of St. Francis…

Saint Patrick’s statue at Saul, County Down.” His special day is March 17…

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March 17, 2022 – My older brother Tom – the one I’ve had all the adventures with* – recently proposed a new one. (Adventure that is.) Hiking the 150 miles or so from Assisi to Rome.

Specifically, to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, by way of Via de Francesco. (In English, St Francis’ Way.) I had planned to do a next post on the subject, but then saw that my last post came on February 18, 2022. (Another Super Bowl (2022) is history.) But the “Way of St. Francis” post will take some time, so in the interim, here’s one on Saint Patrick, whose special day is March 17.

Patrick was the “fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the ‘Apostle of Ireland,’ he is the primary patron saint of Ireland.” (The 5th century ran from 401 to 500 A.D.) No one can say when St. Patrick was born, but he is said to have died on March 17. (Now celebrated as his Feast Day.)  In Irish his name would be Padraig, and that’s often shortened to “Paddy.” In turn, it’s seen as a derogatory term for Irish men. See Saint Patrick – Wikipedia, and also The Free Dictionary. That in turn  gave rise to the “Paddy wagon:”

The name came from the New York Draft riots of 1863. The Irish at the time were the poorest people in the city. When the draft was implemented it had a provision for wealthier people to buy a waiver. The Irish rioted, and the term Paddy wagon was coined.

See Urban Dictionary: paddy wagon, about the “police vehicle used to transport prisoners.” But back to St. Patrick. According to legend, he was born in Britain but at 16 captured by Irish pirates. Taken as a slave back to Ireland, he lived there for six years before escaping. He got back to his family, studied and became a cleric, and in the fullness of time went back to Ireland. Legend further says Patrick used the native shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity to the Irish. 

One thing St. Patrick’s day is known for is drinking Green beer. Which raises the question: Why Do We Drink Green Beer On St. Patrick’s Day? That and the article The story of green beer and St. Patrick’s Day show that apparently the trend started in the early 1900s, in New York City:

It is thought that actual green beer got it’s start in the early 1900’s in New York. A newspaper article from 1914 describes a New York social club serving green beer at a celebratory St. Patrick’s Day dinner. In the article, the drink is attributed to Dr. Curtin, a coroner’s physician who achieved the green beer effect by putting a drop of “wash blue” dye in his beer.

A couple side notes: One, “they used to call beer that wasn’t fermented long enough, ‘Green Beer’ because it caused stomach issues or as they called it in 1904 ‘biliousness.’” Two, that  wash blue was, “in fact, poison, an iron powder solution used to whiten clothes.” (I think I’ll pass this year.) As to the day, see How America Invented St. Patrick’s Day | TIME:

The [St. Patrick’s day] holiday also spread by becoming a means for all Americans to become Irish for the day. The shared sense of being Irish, of wearing green and in some way marking March 17, has resulted in St. Patrick’s Day being observed in a similar fashion to July Fourth or Halloween. It’s the closest thing in America to National Immigrant Day, a tribute not only to the Irish, but to the idea that Americans are all part “other.” (E.A.)

(A radical idea these days.) So here’s to You, St. Patrick! Among other things, you and your Irish brethren “saved Western Civilization” from the barbarians. (See How the Irish Saved Civilization – Wikipedia.) All of which is a good excuse to have a tall, frosty mug of Green Beer!

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The upper image is courtesy of Saint Patrick – Wikipedia. It included the “quote” part of the caption.

Re: The brother I’ve had adventures with. They include hiking the Camino de Santiago three times, once from Pamplona, once from Porto (the Portuguese Way), and once over the Pyrenees from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Burgos. Others include hiking the Chilkoot Trail (“meanest 33 miles in history”), canoeing 440 miles on the Yukon River, from Whitehorse to Dawson City, and canoeing eight days, 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi, primitive camping. (“Dig a hole and squat.”) To see more, type in the subject in the search engine above right.

Re: St. Patrick. There’s also the legend he “drove all the snakes out of Ireland.” Some scholars doubt the legend, for reasons including – they say – there were no snakes in Ireland in the first place: “all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes.

The lower image is courtesy of Green Beer St Patrick’s Day – Image Results.

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