From http://www.the42.ie © Dan Sheridan / INPHO
Today is March 17th and the day that commemorates Ireland’s national saint, St Patrick. Among other feats, St Patrick is credited with popularising the shamrock as Ireland’s national symbol by using its three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity, with turning his walking stick into a tree during a visit to Aspatria in England’s Lake District, with punishing the heathen Welsh king Vereticus by changing him into a wolf, and with casting all the snakes out of Ireland. Though to be honest, old Patrick missed a trick in not casting all the politicians out of it at the same time.
St Patrick’s Day is, of course, enthusiastically celebrated by Irish people and by the Irish diaspora the world over. This is no more so than in Irish-American strongholds like Boston, where from all accounts they demonstrate their passion for St Patrick and all things Irish by dyeing the rivers green, dyeing the Guinness green, dyeing their hair green and probably injecting green dye into their own eyeballs so that their eyes glow green too.
Personally, I don’t normally take the celebration of St Patrick’s Day to such extremes – though I may make an exception today if the Irish rugby team win their final Six Nations Championship game against England, which kicks off at 2:45 GMT. Ireland have so far disposed of France, Italy, Wales and Scotland and have already won the championship on points, but if they can beat England today they’ll also win the Grand Slam – an honour they’ve achieved only twice before in rugby history, in 1948 and 2009. I know I’m tempting fate by writing this, but to win the Grand Slam on St Patrick’s Day, and against England, would be really something.
So Happy St Paddy’s Day – and let’s hope this afternoon Ireland’s rugby players can make this the happiest St Paddy’s Day ever.