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St. Patrick’s Day started as a celebration of Ireland’s patron saint. During the 5th century, a shepherd was called to serve the people of Ireland through the Catholic church, taking on the Christian name Patrick.
According to legend, Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, but the island had no
snakes at that time; this is most likely a metaphor for him converting the Irish to
Christianity and driving out paganism. Another myth has Patrick using the Shamrock
to teach the Holy Trinity.
The holiday falls on March 17, because that is the day Patrick died. Saint Patrick’s
Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland
and Labrador and in Montserrat. The day is widely celebrated in America as a recognition
of Irish heritage.
Celebrate your Irish heritage with our roots resources:
counties in Ireland
church records to learn about your Irish forebears
your Irish ancestors online
the 1901 Irish Census free online
immigration through Canada
For more on St. Patrick’s Day, watch
a video by the History Channel here.