St Patrick’s Day 2014: Preview

What is St Patrick’s Day?

St Patrick’s Day, celebrated every year on 17 March, commemorates the death in the 5th century of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. St Patrick famously brought Christianity to Ireland, though the day now also incorporates a broader celebration of all things Irish. Legend has it that St Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock plant to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans, and it’s become traditional to wear shamrocks as part of the celebrations. It’s also said that Ireland has no snakes because St Patrick drove them all into the sea.

What happens locally?

An example of the ceremonies and events that will mark St Patrick’s Day occurs at St Francis De Sales RC Church (Hale Road, Walton) on Sunday 16 March, when the Irish Guards Association (North of England branch) will be holding its annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations. The service starts at 10.30am and during Mass Father John Thompson will bless the Shamrock. After Mass the members and families of the Association, together with the Irish Guards Cadets and Singers will be presented with shamrock by the Lord Lieutenant, Dame Lorna Muirhead-Fox and the Lord Mayor, Councillor Gary Millar. Afterwards there is a buffet and refreshments at St Francis De Sales Parochial Club in Salop Street. For further information on this event please contact Ken Owen, Honorary Secretary (Email: kennyowen@blueyonder.co.uk ).

Of course many of the region’s pubs will also be especially busy on St Patrick’s Day. O’Neill’s on Liverpool’s Hanover Street is participating in a campaign to make the day a public holiday.

So a fair amount of whisky will be drunk – or should that be whiskey?

Coincidentally a debate on this very subject has been raging recently on Facebook and you’re right, ‘whiskey’ is more appropriate as it’s the Irish spelling. Joe Pike, who seems to know his way around a dram, offers the following explanation:

‘The spelling of whisky, or whiskey, differs geographically. As a rule, the Irish and the Americans prefer ‘whiskey’, and Scots, Canadians and the rest of the world’s single malt makers prefer ‘whisky’. Irish whiskey was first documented in 1405 in the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise, but references in Gaelic were made during the 12th century, whereas Scotland’s first recorded reference to whisky was in 1494. If Scotland votes for independence, however, I’m sure Alex Salmon will try to re-write history. Incidentally, the award for the world’s best whisky was won this year by a Japanese producer.’