St. Patrick's Day – Online English Lessons

St Patrick’s Day is on March 17th and it is the national day of Ireland. It has been an official public holiday since 1903.

St Patrick’s Day is a secular celebration and an important religious festival: it’s a holy day of obligations for Roman Catholics in Ireland, as well as a religious celebration for the Anglican Church of Ireland.

St Patrick

St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He lived from approximately 387 – 460AD.

It’s said that St Patrick was born in Wales to a wealthy family, but he was kidnapped by Irish raiders as a teenager and held as a slave in Ireland for six years. He worked as a shepherd for those six years and during that time his faith as a Christian became very important to him.

St Patrick escaped his life of slavery by stowing away on a boat to Britain. He dreamt that he should return to Ireland as a missionary and preach Christianity, so he studied to be a priest. 

According to legend, St Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland.

He is buried at Down Cathedral, County Down, Ireland, and many people across the world make the pilgrimage to his grave.

St Patrick’s Day celebrations

Irish people all over the world celebrate St Patrick’s Day with parades and special events.

Many people wear green and in some cities the rivers and streams are dyed green. Some pubs even serve green beer!

The “wearing of the green” means wearing a shamrock. The shamrock is the national flower of Ireland and St Patrick used it to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagans in Ireland.

St Patrick’s Festival

The first St Patrick’s Festival was held on the 17th March 1996. Every year, Irish culture is showcased with parades, music, film, poetry, fireworks, treasure hunts and other special events.

Irish Language

Irish and English are both official languages in Ireland.

Irish is an official language of the European Union.

The Irish Republic is officially bilingual, and English and Irish appear widely on signs, public buildings, and official forms and documents

Some English words of Irish origin from St David’s School, Dublin

galore – plenty, a lot. From go leor, Irish for plenty.

phoney – (from fáinne, ring) meaning ‘fake’. The term originated from Irish immigrants in the US and referred to fake gold rings illegally marketed there.

shenanigans – deception or trickery

Tory –  (from tóraí) outlaw, robber

Examples of common Irish Slang from the BBC

acting the maggot – in a mischeivous mood, trying to get others to laugh at you

crack – fun

the life of Reilly – having a very good time, often while others are not

fellas – men

wans – women

mot or ol’doll – girlfriend

a fine half – a good looking person of the opposite sex

deadly – really good

very tired – banjaxed

Images © locusolus and vawa_92 on Flickr