Feature by Wilbur | 17 Mar 2006

Some interesting facts about Ireland and its national day.

Succat & See: According to historians, St. Patrick was born not in Ireland, but in Britain in 389 A.D. His given name is believed to have been Maewyn (Mavis) Succat, reluctantly changed to Patrick after ceaseless taunting from the local hoodlum shepherds.

St. Patrick is not actually Ireland's only Patron Saint. He shares that honour with St. Brigid and Lieutenant St. Columba. He did however win the right to have the national day named after him as a result of a heated game of rock, scissors and paper.

Legend tells us St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, but biologists tell us there never were any snakes there to begin with. He is also said to have exiled a dragon to a lake in Ireland until Judgment Day (you what?). Seems our Paddy was quite the con artist, prone to feats of illusion and embellishment like David Copperfield... or Benito Mussolini.

With over 40 million people claiming Irish descent in the U.S, St. Patrick's Day is probably a bigger holiday over there than it is in Ireland. The New York celebration has become the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world. Chicago dyes its rivers green, and in the deep south, Ku Klux Klan robes can be seen to adorn the shamrock in a nod to the Scots-Irish who form part of their heritage.

Zorro and Dracula are famous fictitious characters of international renown whose bases in fact are linked to Ireland. Director Jim Sheridan, fresh from his mainstream success with 50 Cent, is contemplating a summer blockbuster combining both tales. Expect 'Bloody Sunday II – One Man's Insignia is Another Man's Breakfast' to be jigging to a screen near you soon.

The Limerick is some sort of poem
Whose origins seem quite unknown
But Limerick the place
Can be quite a disgrace
Escape 'fore the blade strikes it home

© Irish Tourist Board 1993

Ireland has one of the best education systems in the world according to the 2004 independent IMD World Competitiveness Report. On a related note the official language of Ireland is, ahem, Irish (or Gaelic) - a language which is compulsory to learn whilst at school. Currently, there are eight times as many people who speak Polish in Ireland as people who can actually converse in Gaelic. You do the maths, if your education system hasn't quite let you down so badly that is.