17 Interesting St. Patrick’s Day Facts (70% Of Them Surprised The Sh*te Outta Me)

I didn't know around 70% of these...

st patricks day facts
Photo by Niall Cosgrove via Tourism Ireland

A couple of days back we published a guide to all things St. Patrick’s Day. It was while I was writing this that I realised that 70% of the St. Patrick’s Day facts that I knew were wrong…

Yea. The vast majority of what I thought I knew about him was nonsense. I mean, I knew he was Ireland’s Patron Saint, but I thought his name was Patrick…

I also thought he banished snakes from Ireland and that Ireland was the first country to celebrate St. Patricks Day on March 17th.

How wrong I was. In the guide below, you’ll find a tonne of interesting facts about St. Patrick to binge on for a little bit.

st. patricks day in Ireland
Photo by Niall Cosgrove via Tourism Ireland

St. Patrick Facts and legend

Our first section is packed with St. Patrick facts – you’ll find everything you need to know about the man himself below.

Like the fact that his name wasn’t actually Patrick, where it’s believed that he’s buried and plenty more.

1. He wasn’t Irish

If you’re not familiar with the history of St. Patrick, you may not be aware that he is not in fact Irish. St. Patrick is British. It’s believed that he was born in either Wales or Scotland. This is arguably the most frequently misbelieved of the many facts about St. Patrick.

2. When he was born

St. Patrick was born in Roman-Britain (Britain was under Roman rule for 350 years) circa 386 A.D. He didn’t arrive in Ireland until 433. 

3. When he died

St. Patrick died in 461 in Saul, County Down, at the fine old age of (roughly) 75.

4. He was abducted at 16

This is another interesting St. Patrick fact that I had never really heard. St. Patrick was abducted at the age of 16 and brought to Northern Ireland as a slave. He was forced to tend to sheep for 6 years in the mountains.

5. His name wasn’t Patrick

This was one of the facts about St. Patrick that blew my mind a little. So, apparently ‘Patrick’ is a name that he picked up along the way at some point. St. Patrick’s real name was ‘Maewyn Succat’. The best of luck pronouncing that!

6. He didn’t banish snakes

This St. Patrick fact surprised me. It also made me question why I so easily accepted the ‘fact’ in the first place.

For as far back as I can remember, I was told that St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. However, there were never snakes in Ireland…

It’s believed that the St. Patrick snakes link is all about symbolism. In Judeo-Christian tradition, snakes are the symbol of evil.

It’s said that St. Patrick banishing the snakes from Ireland represents his fight to bring the word of God to Ireland.

7. He escaped Ireland by boat

According to St. Patrick’s Confession (a book that is said to have been written by St. Patrick), God told Patrick to flee his captures and make his way to the coast where a boat would be waiting to take him back home.

8. A dream led him back to Ireland

After escaping his captures in Ireland, St. Patrick returned to Roman-Britain. It’s said that one night had a dream that the people of Ireland were calling him back to tell them about God. 

9. Not before he spent 12 years in France…

After having the dream that called him back to Ireland, he was worried. He felt unprepared for the task ahead. 

St. Patrick decided that he must follow his studies first, to better equip himself for the task ahead.

He travelled to France where he trained in a monastery. It wasn’t for 12 years after the dream that he returned to Ireland.

10. His remains are believed to be at Down Cathedral

It’s believed that the remains of St. Patrick are buried at Down Cathedral in County Down.  This magnificent Cathedral is a Church of Ireland cathedral and it’s found on the site of a Benedictine Monastery.

11. The shamrock

St. Patrick is often associated with the shamrock. It’s said that, upon returning to Ireland, he used the three-leafed plant as a metaphor for the Hold Trinity.

titanic st. paddy's day
Photo by Gerry Sweeney via Tourism Ireland (Copyright Titanic Belfast)

St. Patrick’s Day facts and trivia

In this section, we’ll take a look at some facts about St. Patrick’s Day itself. From parades and food to plenty more.

12. Why March 17th?

St. Patrick’s Day is held on March 17th as this is the day that St. Patrick died. On March 17th we celebrate his life along with Irish culture.

13. The first parade wasn’t held in Ireland

I’d never heard this St. Patrick’s Day fact before today! The first St. Patrick’s Day parade wasn’t held in Ireland – it was held in Boston in the United States in 1737. Mad stuff.

14. Ireland’s first parade

The very first St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was held in County Waterford in 1903. 

15. A national holiday

St. Patrick’s Day is a bank holiday in Ireland. This means that many people have the day off, as it’s a national holiday. Schools, government offices and many private workplaces close for business on March 17th.

16. Green isn’t the original colour associated with St. Patrick

Interestingly enough, the first colour to be associated with St. Patrick wasn’t green – it was blue. I can’t image people legging it about the place with blue face paint on!

17. The largest parade in the world

This is one of the few St. Patrick’s Day facts that I knew! The largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world takes place in New York City. The parade attracts a staggering two million+ people every year.

St patrick's day traditions
Photo by Bernie Brown via Tourism Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day trivia questions and answers

If you’re planning out a quiz and you’re in need of some St. Patrick’s Day trivia questions and answers, I’ve prepared a load of Q and As that you can use.

I’ll format them nice and plainly so you can pull them out and use them at ease (note: these cannot be copied and pasted by other websites – private use only!):

—————

Q: Where was St. Patrick born?

A: St. Patrick was born in Roman-Britain circa 386 A.D.

—————

Q: Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th?

A: We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th of March as this is the day that St. Patrick died.

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Q: What was St. Patrick’s name?

A: St. Patrick’s real name was ‘Maewyn Succat’.

—————

Q: Where was the first St. Patrick’s Day parade?

A: The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston in 1737.

—————

Q: Where is St. Patrick buried?

A: It’s believed that the remains of St. Patrick are buried at Down Cathedral in County Down. 

—————

Q: What colour was first associated with St. Patrick?

A: The first colour to be associated with St. Patrick was blue. 

Which St. Patrick’s Day facts hadn’t you heard before?

So, as I’ve mentioned above, I hadn’t heard half of the St. Patrick facts included in the guide above. I either wasn’t listening in class or I’m just dense.

Let’s hope it was the former. Did any of the St. Patrick facts above surprise you? Or had you heard them all before? Let me know in the comments below!

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

1 COMMENT

  1. I had heard most of the facts before – all the history stuff. The date of the Boston Parade was new, but unsurprising – and yes, New York was always on the radar. ‘The sidewalks of New York are thick with blarney/ For sure you’d think New York was old Killarney’……(It’s a great Day for the Irish, song).

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