Happy St Patrick’s Day
- St Patrick single-handedly converted the Irish people to Christianity
The truth: Historians believe that there were already Christian believers in Ireland by the time Patrick arrived. Ireland also had strong trading links with the Roman empire, and the religion is likely to have been spread.
- St Patrick defeated the pagan druids
The truth: This story is now believed to have been invented by a cleric, Muirchú, who lived two centuries later.
- St Patrick droves the snakes from Ireland
The truth: Well, there are no snakes in Ireland now (apart from those kept in zoos and as pets), but this is may be because there never were any. Another theory is that the last Ice Age was too cold for snakes to survive and then the Irish Sea stopped them from breeding in Ireland.
St Patrick may have been named Maewyn Sucatt but changed his name to Patrick when he became an archbishop.
He may be thought of as Irish now, but his exact birthplace is unknown. It was most likely in England, Wales or Scotland.
In his teens, he was captured by pirates and taken to Ireland, where he was put to work as a herdsman.
After six years, he managed to escape and possibly fled back to his home. He became a Christian priest before returning to Ireland as a missionary in the mid fifth century.
He spent the next 30 years establishing schools, churches, and monasteries across the country.
Patrick was later appointed as successor to St Palladius, the first bishop of Ireland.
He is said to have died in the year 461.