9 things I didn’t know about St Patrick
Growing up near the Abbey church in Bangor I was always acutely aware of the huge religious heritage of the town and of County Down. But until I recently experienced the Myths and Legends tour to learn about our heritage in the area, I never quite realised the extent of St Patrick’s story in Down.
Thanks to the superb tour with the extremely knowledgable Dr Therese Cullen who recently launched Irish Monastic Tours I had a day of learning about the man. From the encyclopaedia that is Therese’s brain, I learnt 9 interesting things about St Patrick.
St Patrick’s colour wasn’t green, it was blue! Check out this stained glass window at Saul.
His first church in Ireland was at Saul, just outside Downpatrick. Views from Saul overlook the neighbouring Slieve Patrick and large statue celebrating the life of the man.
He wasn’t Irish, and was actually a Romano Briton. Arriving in Ireland as a slave after being kidnapped, he most likely worked as a shepherd at Slemish Mountain. After escaping back home, he eventually came back to Ireland as a missionary. He landed back on Irish soil on the banks of the Slaney River.
St Patrick is believed to have visited the Struell Wells, a pre-Christian site where he bathed and prayed. The site is believed to have healing powers and was my most interesting part of the tour.
Inch Abbey is the site where the story of St Patrick and the snakes was recorded. It’s a beautiful spot and has been a site location for Game of Thrones.
He is of course a Saint but was never officially canonised, but then neither were other well known Saints in the early centuries.
The Shamrock; legend has it that St Patrick picked a three leaf shamrock from the ground and used it to describe the Trinity. The shamrock came into popular use after the Act of Union in 1800.
St Patrick’s Day parades are an American creation, beginning in Boston in 1737.
He is believed to be buried in the grounds of Down Cathedral in Downpatrick.
These are just a few of the fascinating and interesting things I learnt on tour around County Down. Therese, who completed her PHD on St Patrick has an extensive knowledge of the man, the myths and the legend.
A tour I definitely recommend if you want to learn more about our local heritage and of events which played a role in shaping the history of the island of Ireland, whether you are a Christian or not. It’s an interesting and wonderful day out with a superb guide.
Thanks for the tour Therese!