“A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures” - Irish Sayings
St Patrick’s Day is a popular observance in Australia to honour Irish culture and commemorate the foremost of Ireland’s patron saints, St Patrick. Many Australians remember the Irish settlement and culture on St Patrick’s Day. The Irish were among the first Europeans to settle in Australia. They comprised a portion of the convict settlement population in the late 1700s. More than 300,000 other Irish settlers (not convicts) migrated to Australia between 1840 and 1914. Many Irish immigrants came to Australia to escape famine in their homeland. About 30 percent of Australians are believed to have some Irish ancestry today. One way of preserving Irish traditions and customs in Australia is celebrating St Patrick’s Day each year.
St Patrick (ca AD 387–461) died on March 17. He worked as a missionary in Ireland and it is traditionally believed that he banished “snakes” from the country although the term may have referred to druids or pagan worshippers. Little is known of Patrick's early life, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father and grandfather were deacons in the Christian church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave. It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. According to his Confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied to be a priest.
In 432, he again said that he was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to Christianise the Irish from their native polytheism. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on 17 March 461, and according to tradition, was buried at Downpatrick. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish church.
On St Patrick’s Day in Australia, some businesses, clubs and other organisations hold St Patrick’s Day breakfasts and lunches where lucky door prizes are given and Irish food and drinks are served. Many pubs, particularly Irish pubs, hold St Patrick’s Day parties in the evenings, where local bands play Irish music and beer dyed green is served.
St Patrick Day parades are held in cities such as Sydney and Brisbane. These parades feature people dressed in traditional Irish costumes, or at least in green. Floats displaying the Irish flag or other Irish symbols like the shamrock and the harp feature prominently. Some people dress as leprechauns while others wear green wigs. Many Irish associations and historical societies hold events that give people the chance to learn about the history of Irish immigration and settlement in Australia.
Here is a beautiful Irish Lullaby to finish off the day…