Ireland day 0170. Thursday 17 March 2022- Patrick

Ireland day 0170. Thursday 17 March 2022- Patrick
Today’s summary St Patricks Day.   Spent the day preparing for arrival of guests tonight then droving down to the docks to pick them up off the ferry.   A public holiday today and tomorrow
Today’s weather Bright and mostly dry though a light shower in the afternoon.   Light westerly breeze.   About 14C
Today’s overview location
(The blue mark shows the location of my short walk to the shops)
Close-up location
(The green line shows where I walked)
(No GPX download today as the walk was too short to merit it)

You might have expected that today’s blog would be full of all of the fun of the fair – after all, it is St Patrick’s Day, one of the main highlights of the Irish calendar (and especially of the Irish drinking calendar).   But if that as what you were hoping to find, I’m afraid you will be disappointed.   Because actually my main focus for today has been to catch up on all the chores that I postponed from yesterday when I took advantage of the good weather and went up north to climb Slieve Foye.

I did take a moment to read up a bit about St Patrick, though.   I was a bit surprised to learn that he wasn’t Irish at all, even though he is the patron saint of this country.   He was actually English, born in about 385AD.   His place of birth is not known for certain though there is at least one line of thought that it was possibly somewhere in in the distinctly un-beatific county of Northamptonshire.   His parents were probably Roman settlers in Britain and it seems likely that his birth name was Patricius.

According to legend, when he was around sixteen, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Northern Ireland where he worked as a herdsman for six years.    (incidentally the raiders theory does make it seem a bit unlikely that Patrick really did live in Northamptonshire as it’s just too far from the sea).  While held captive he sustained himself through regular prayer and eventually made his escape when he had a vision telling him that a ship was waiting to take him back to England.   He duly returned to Northamptonshire or wherever and was reunited with his family.

What happened next isn’t very clear but some accounts say that he travelled to Auxerre in France where he studied in a monastery.   At some point he had another vision commanding him to return to Ireland, which he duly did.   He settled in the North and from there set about converting the pagan Irish to Christianity – a process which seems actually to have been remarkably successful.   About this time, he wrote an autobiographical work “Confessio” which must be one of the oldest written works in Ireland.   He wrote it in a language known as “vulgar Latin”.   Along the way, he banished snakes from Ireland and popularised the shamrock as an emblem of Ireland.   (By the way there is no evidence that there have ever actually been snakes in Ireland at least since the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago).

St Patrick died around 17 March in the year 461AD.   He is thought to be buried in Downpatrick in Northern Ireland.   St Patrick’s day commemorates his death and is primarily a religious day though for hundreds of years, drinking seems to have been the main focus (though sometimes the two have been successfully combined for example in the tradition of “drowning the Shamrock” after going to St Patrick’s day mass).   There’s always a huge parade in Dublin on St Patricks Day and this year is set to be particularly boisterous as for the last two years it’s been banned because of Covid restrictions.  Traditionally, green clothing and shamrock is worn.   It’s a national holiday in Ireland and this year an extra day has been tacked on by the Government in recognition of the two previous years of Covid disruptions.   So the Irish will be able to “faire le pont” as they say in France, and make a long weekend of it.

For me, though, today is going to be a bit different we are setting off to walk the Wicklow Way on Saturday and our friends are coming over on the ferry this evening and I’m going down to the docks to meet them.   I hope it’s a nice calm crossing as I don’t want them to arrive looking green – albeit it would be very much in keeping with the spirit of the day.   I definitely don’t want ill people anywhere near our shiny new car!!

And talking of ill people – you may be wondering why Val hasn’t appeared in this blog lately.   Well, the simple fact is that she has got Covid.   She’s perfectly fine – basically just a mild cold – but it’s a bit inconvenient.   She tested positive the morning after she arrived back in the UK from Switzerland after her skiing marathon, so she cancelled her onward flight to Dublin and is staying over in the UK until the insidious second line disappears.  Hopefully that won’t be too long now and she will be able to get back in time to join us on Saturday.   But if not as soon as she is fit to fly, she will take a taxi down to Wicklow and join us as soon as she can.   It’s a bit of a nuisance but plenty of people are suffering much worse hardship at the moment so it’s no more than that – a nuisance.

And a final word about the blog.   Because we are going to be out an about for the next ten days or so, these blogs will be much shorter than usual.  I want to focus on the walking and being sociable, rather than tapping away on my laptop all night!.   But I will carry on posting photos and the key facts, so you can follow our progress and find out how long it takes those pesky virus particles to disappear!


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Spot the deliberate error.   It’s a four leaved clover in a shop window, not a St Patricks Day shamrock.
As far as I can tell, shamrock is basically just clover, and in fact the name is said to be derived from the Irish seamair óg which means “young clover”.   St P. used the three leaves of the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity when he was preaching to the masses.   It has become a symbol of Irish nationhood, in much the same way as the rose is in England.
Essential St Patrick’s Day supplies!!
Interactive map

(No map today as the walk was too short)


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