Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Patrick, the man, the myth, the legend

Just a few facts, and insights into the Patron Saint of Ireland.  St. Patrick has a lot in common with St. Francis but he didn't talk with the animals the way St. Francis did!
A picture like this hung in my Nonna's kitchen from the time I could remember

St. Patrick was born in Britain to a wealthy family; at age 16 he was kidnapped and used as a slave in Ireland, tending sheep.  His conversion to Christianity came during those rough 7 years.  He escaped back to Britain, then heard a voice calling him back to Ireland. He became ordained and went back to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish. Life was tough. Patrick was beaten by thugs, harassed by the Irish, and admonished by his superiors.Sounds a bit like Wall Street.
The legend that Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland, is just that; there have never been snakes in Ireland.  Surrounded on all sides by ice cold waters, no self-respecting snake would swim there!

  St. Patrick was largely forgotten after his death, but slowly, his myth (including the banishment of the snakes) grew, with tales that he used shamrock leaves to represent the Trinity.

These tales are all attributed to the monks who continued his work in Ireland.  Now the patron Saint of Ireland, his feast day is celebrated in Irish churches, but it seems that the Irish immigrants in the US imbued this saints day with traditions that are uniquely American.
Corned beef and cabbage is one which I covered yesterday, and turning the Chicago River green is another.  They don’t turn the Liffey  green in Dublin!  But they DO drink a lot of Guinness!  On any given day 5.5 million pints of Guinness, are consumed; on St. Patrick's Day,  13 million pints are quaffed according to the good folks at Guinness.
Parades, packed pubs, and turning rivers green have gradually found their way back to the old sod. 
My Irish grandmother wasn’t a great cook, although she cooked for some of the most aristocratic families in Boston (what does that tell you?) I remember roast mutton with gravy you could skate on.  I think she was of the school that you had to cook everything to death and use every bit.  So, I don’t remember a lot of great meals from she or any of her sisters who were also cooks for the Brahmins.  But I do know that these days, there are some amazing cooks in Ireland.  Check out, and 

I'm heading into the kitchen to rustle up so dinner for Dr. C. and I before I leave tomorrow, I'll post those later today, until then have a great day!

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