I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful, and utterly despised by many. My father was Calpornius, a deacon, son of Potitus, a priest, of the village Bannaven Taburniae; he had a country seat nearby, and there I was taken captive.
I was then about 16 years of age. I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people–and deservedly so, because we turned away from God, and did not keep His commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of our salvation…
…I am imperfect in many things, nevertheless I want my brethren and kinsfolk to know my nature so that they may be able to perceive my soul’s desire…
…I am not ignorant of what is said of my Lord in the Psalm: “You destroy those who speak a lie [Psalm 5:6].” And again: “A lying mouth deals death to the soul.” And likewise the Lord says in the Gospel: “On the day of judgment men shall render account for every idle word they utter [Matthew 12:36]…”
…So it is that I should mightily fear, with terror and trembling, this judgment on the day when no one shall be able to steal away or hide, but each and all shall render account for even our smallest sins before the judgment seat of Christ the Lord…
…But had it been given to me as to others, in gratitude I should not have kept silent, and if it should appear that I put myself before others, with my ignorance and my slower speech, in truth, it is written: ‘The tongue of the stammerers shall speak rapidly and distinctly.’ How much harder must we try to attain it, we of whom it is said: ‘You are an epistle of Christ in greeting to the ends of the earth … written on your hearts, not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.’ And again, the Spirit witnessed that the rustic life was created by the Most High…
-from Patrick’s Confessions
The Celebration in Ireland
“The 17th Day of March yeerly is St. Patrick’s, an immoveable feast when the Irish of all stations and condicions wore crosses in their hats, some of pins, some of green ribbon, and the vulgar superstitiously wear shamroges, 3-leaved grass, which they likewise eat (they say) to cause a sweet breath. The common people and servants also demand their St. Patrick’s groat of their masters, which they goe expressly to town, though half a dozen miles off, to spend, where sometimes it amounts to a piece of 8 or cobb a piece, and very few of the zealous are found sober at night…”
–Thomas Dinely, Journal (1681)
“The Irish folks were disappointed that the Parliament did not meet to-day, because it was St. Patrick’s day; and the Mall was so full of crosses, that I thought all the world was Irish.”
–Dean Jonathan Swift Journal to Stella (17 March 1713)
Drowning of the Shamrock
“The drowning of the Shamrock by no means implies that it is necessary to get drunk in doing so. At the end of the day the shamrock which has been worn in the coat or the hat is removed and put into the final glass of grog or tumbler of punch; and when the health has been drunk or the toast honored, the shamrock should be picked out from the bottom of the glass and thrown over the left shoulder.”
– Journal of the Kildare Archaeological Society , 1908
St. Patrick’s Day was generally taken as the middle day of Spring (also in the middle of Lent). Improved weather was expected from then onwards, all the more confidently because of the Saint’s promise that every day would be fine after his festival. To the farmers, this meant that the time for planting the main potato crop had come and those that delayed this work long after 17 March were regarded by their neighbors as slovenly and lazy.