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Patron saint of Ireland was Welsh: Facts about St. Patrick and his namesake day

03/12/2012 11:10 EDT | Updated 05/12/2012 05:12 EDT
Here are some facts about St. Patrick and his namesake day:

— St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was not Irish but Welsh. When he was about 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave. After escaping, he went home and entered the church, but returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop.

— St. Patrick's Day is observed March 17 because it is believed that he died on March 17 in the year 461 AD.

— St. Patrick's Day is a national holiday in Ireland and a provincial holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador.

— The very first St. Patrick's Day parade was not in Ireland but in Boston in 1737.

— The phrase "drowning the shamrock" is from a custom of floating a shamrock on top of whiskey before drinking it.

— About 10 per cent of Canadians, or more than three million people, are of Irish descent. The population of Ireland is 4.1 million.

Sources: Various.

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