Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In Irish, Happy St. Patrick’s Day is Beannachtai na Feile Padraig [pronounced ban/ocked/tee nah fail/eh pawd/rig], and on this day:

May there always be work for your hands to do,
may your purse always hold a coin or two.

May the sun always shine on your windowpane,
may a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.

May the hand of a friend be always near you,
and may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Slainte! [Good Health]


The Irish/O’Bama* Connection

Here in Ireland, this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration is taking on a bit of a new lustre -- U.S. President Barack O’Bama [as his name is written here with a shamrock in place of the apostrophe] is Irish! His maternal great- great- great-grandfather, Fulmoth Kearney, was born in Moneygall, Co. Offaly, and lived there until he left in 1850 at the age of 19 for Ohio. Members of the extended Kearney family began emigrating to America in the late 1700s, but it was the 1848 death of Fulmoth's uncle Francis in Ohio that sparked the departure of his immediate family. In his will, Francis left land to Joseph, Fulmoth's father, but only if he came to America to claim it. Joseph left in 1849, and Fulmoth and a sister followed in 1850; Fulmoth's reluctant mother and remaining brother and sister made the journey in 1851. While living in Ohio, Fulmoth got married and had eight children; he later moved to Indiana, next door to the state that O’Bama represented in the U.S. Senate.

Taken, in part, from the article “Four Green Fields” by Megan Smolenyak, a professional genealogist who is half-Irish and Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com (Irish Times, 9 March 2009)

*In case you haven’t heard it yet, you’ll find a musical tribute to President O’Bama and his Irish heritage at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/us_elections_2008/7718583.stm

The Saint Behind the Day

St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, was born into either a Scottish or English family in the fourth century. He was captured as a teenager by Niall of the Nine Hostages who was to become a King of all Ireland.

He was sold into slavery in Ireland and put to work as a shepherd. He worked in terrible conditions for six years drawing comfort in the Christian faith that so many of his people had abandoned under Roman rule.

Patrick had a dream that encouraged him to flee his captivity and to head south where a ship was to be waiting for him. He travelled over 200 miles from his northern captivity to Wexford town where, sure enough, a ship was waiting to enable his escape.

Upon arrival in England, he was captured by brigands and returned to slavery. He escaped after two months and spent the next seven years travelling Europe seeking his destiny.

During this time, he furthered his education and studied Christianity in the Lerin Monastery in France. He returned to England as a priest. Again, a dream greatly influenced him when he became convinced that the Irish people were calling out to him to return to the land of his servitude.

He went to the Monastery in Auxerre where it was decided that a mission should be sent to Ireland. Patrick was not selected for this task, to his great disappointment. The monk that was selected was called Paladius, but he died before he could reach Ireland and a second mission was decided upon.

Patrick was made a Bishop by Pope Celestine in the year 432, and, together with a small band of followers, he travelled to Ireland to commence the conversion.

Patrick confronted the most powerful man in Ireland, Laoghaire, the High King of Tara, as he knew that if he could gain his support then he would be safe to spread the word throughout Ireland. To get his attention Patrick and his followers lit a huge fire to mark the commencement of Spring. Tradition had it that no fire was to be lit until the King's fire was complete, but Patrick defied this rule and courted the confrontation with the King.

The King rushed into action and travelled with the intention of making war on the holy delegation. Patrick calmed the King and with quiet composure impressed upon him that he had no intention other than that of spreading the word of the Gospel. The King accepted the missionary, much to the dismay of the Druids who feared for their own power and position in the face of this new threat. They commanded that he make snow fall. Patrick declined to do so stating that this was God's work. Immediately, it began to snow, only stopping when Patrick blessed himself.

Still trying to convince the King of his religion, Patrick grasped at some Shamrock growing on the ground. He explained that there was but one stem on the plant, but three branches of the leaf, representing the Blessed Trinity. The King was impressed with his sincerity and granted him permission to spread the word of his faith, although he did not convert to Christianity himself.

Patrick and his followers were free to spread their faith throughout Ireland and did so to great effect. He drove paganism (symbolised by the snake) from the lands of Eireann.

Patrick was tempted by the Devil whilst on a pilgrimage at Croagh Patrick. For his refusal to be tempted, God rewarded him with a wish. Patrick asked that the Irish be spared the horror of Judgment Day, and that he himself be allowed to judge his flock. Thus, the legend -- that Ireland will disappear under a sea of water seven years before the final judgment -- was born.

Patrick died on March 17th in the year 461 at the age of 76. It is not known, for sure, where his remains were laid, although Downpatrick in Co. Down in the North of Ireland is thought to be his final resting place.

His influence is still felt to this day as nations the world over commemorate him on March 17th of every year.

Taken from The Information about Ireland Site (http://www.ireland-information.com), Michael Green, editor (michaelgreen@ireland-information.com)

1 comment:

  1. Lovely, informative post, Sue. Belated Happy St. Pat's to you. I'm busy e-marketing "A Band of Roses" and way behind with e-mail, but you and Anam Cara are ever in my thoughts. Slainte! Pat