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Irish Facts and Info

Happy St. Patrick's Day

March 17, 2001

Saint Patrick (about 389-461) is the patron saint of Ireland.  Patrick was born in Britain, when he was 16 years old he was captured by pirates and sold as a slave in Ireland. During his captivity, Patrick dedicated himself to religion.  He escaped after six years of slavery and returned to his home in Britain.  He studied in the monastery of Lérins and later studied religion under Saint Germanus, a French bishop.  Pope Celestine I sent Patrick to Ireland in 432.  Patrick was chiefly responsible for converting the Irish people to Christianity.  Patrick is said to have founded more than 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000 persons.  Patrick also introduced the Roman alphabet and Latin literature into Ireland.

Many stories about Patrick are based only on legend.  One of the best-known tales tells how he charmed the snakes of Ireland into the sea so they are drowned.  According to another legend, Patrick used a three-leaf shamrock to illustrate the idea of Trinity.  Many people believe that the shamrock came to be the traditional symbol of Ireland as a result of this legend.

His death on March 17, in about 461, observance of the day since 1845 has become nationwide.  It is celebrated in homes, churches, schools, and places of entertainment.

 

Gaelic Language

Gaelic is the Celtic branch of the Indo-European family of languages.  The Gaels introduced it to Ireland from Europe.  Irish invaders took it Scotland around the year 500.  About the year 1300, this common Gaelic language divided into two branches, Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic.  Spoken Irish split into different dialects, now the three main dialects are Munster, Connacht, and County Donegal.  British invaders tried to force the English language upon the Irish, but were not successful at first.   
By 1851 only a quarter of the Irish population spoke Gaelic.  After Ireland became independent in 1922, Irish became the official language.  About one person in five in Ireland can speak Irish today, but only one in 20 use it daily.  In Scotland approximately 80,000 people speak Gaelic.

 

Irish Patron Saints

Some Recent Irish Facts

Drop in Irish Aids Cases - Statistics for 1998 show that the number of HIV/AIDS cases fell by almost half over the previous two years. The total for 1996 was 79and this had declined to 41 last year.
More Working Couples - Figures released by the Central Statistics Office show that between1986 and 1996 the percentage of couples where both partners worked had risen from 16.2% to 32%.
Divorce applications jump - The number of divorce applications in 1998 jumped to 2,765 from 417 in the previous year when divorce was first introduced.
US Lawyer casts slur on Irish - An American lawyer in Florida lodged a compensation claim against a car hire company, claiming that it should not have rented a car to an Irishman as it should have known that he would drive while intoxicated.



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Copyright 2001/2002  Susan M. Murphy. Material from this web site may not be reproduced for commercial purposes. Genealogical researchers are free to use this material for reference and research purposes.
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21 Apr 2002