Tag: Blarney stone

Kiss your Irish Heritage

March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day

The Global celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is March 17.  It is a day of remembrance of St. Patrick, one of Ireland’s patron saints, who ministered Christianity in Ireland in the fifth century and has become a global celebration for any one with Irish decent.  

Saint Patrick is the most well-known of all of Ireland’s patron saints, but guess what!?, he wasn’t Irish. He was actually born in Great Britain,and was kidnapped from his home by pirates at the age of 16.  He was forced into slavery in Ireland, where he looked after animals. At the age of 22, Saint Patrick was able to escape and return to his home in Great Britain. He decided to become a cleric and then eventually a bishop.

While still  in Great Britain, Saint Patrick claimed to have had a vision of the people of Ireland calling out to him in one unified voice, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.” At this time, the Irish people were polytheistic pagans, meaning they worshiped more than one different Gods and deities. Inspired by his vision, Saint Patrick returned to Ireland with the goal  to bring Christianity to the people.

One of the most popular legends involving Saint Patrick involves him driving all of the snakes out of Ireland. However, Ireland is surrounded by icy waters which would make it impossible for snakes to migrate to the Emerald Isle in the first place. It’s far more likely that the snakes in the legend refer to the paganism that Saint Patrick set out to change. The Christian faith often used snakes or serpents as symbols for evil.

St. Patrick’s Day first started to honor Saint Patrick on the anniversary of his death. The Christian people held a great feast for which Lenten food and alcohol restrictions were temporarily removed, which is why drinking has become synonymous with the holiday. Today, that tradition remains, as some Catholic people choose to cast aside Lent restrictions just for St. Patrick’s Day.

Throughout the years  St. Patrick’s Day became less about the man and more about general Irish traditions, culture and history. In the 1840s, the tradition reached America when thousands upon thousands of Irish people who had emigrated to America to escape the potato famine of the time held a massive St. Patrick’s Day parade. Since then, the American people have embraced the holiday, continuing to add their own  ever-evolving traditions.

GET YOUR GREEN ON

If you attend any St. Patrick’s Day celebration, you can expect to see the majority of revelers decked out in their finest green outfits. While some may think the green is simply a reference to Ireland’s famous rolling green hills, the color actually stems from another iconic St. Patrick’s Day symbol—the shamrock. According to legend, Saint Patrick used three-leaf clovers as a teaching tool to illustrate Christianity’s Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Celebrators would wear shamrocks on their clothing in honor of Saint Patrick, and eventually that tradition evolved into wearing green as well.

DON’T FORGET TO KISS THE BLARNEY STONE!

What is the Blarney stone?

The Blarney Stone is a block of Carboniferous limestone. Carboniferous being a geologic period and system that spans 600 million years from the end of the Devonian Period 358 million years ago to the beginning of the Permian Period.  This limestone is  built into the battlements of Blarney Castle, Blarney, about 8 kilometres from Cork, Ireland. According to legend, kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of eloquence or as we might say today the gift of  gab. The definition of eloquence means that the speaker is able to express themselves clearly and powerfully and though it generally describes oral speech it can also be used to describe powerful writing. Basically, it means being able to use words well, with smooth clear, powerful and interesting speaking, The stone was set into a tower of the castle in 1446.

For over 200 years, world statesmen, literary giants, and legends of the silver screen have joined the millions of pilgrims climbing the steps to kiss the Blarney Stone and gain the gift of eloquence. Its powers are unquestioned but its story still creates debate.

Traditionally, one was to be held upside down by their ankles and lowered head first over the battlements to kiss the Blarney stone in order to receive the “blessing”.  Today, due to caution and safety there is an iron railing to assist the visitors. The Stone itself is still set in the wall below the battlements. To kiss it, one has to lean backwards (holding on to an iron railing) from the parapet walk. The prize is a real one as once kissed the stone bestows the gift of eloquence.

What are battlements you ask? Battlements is the wall or the “fort” as we call it that surrounds the castle. They were built chest or head high with with rectangular cut outs at intervals so stones or arrows could be launched in the need of defense. Basically it was a wall to hide behind for protection in case of an attack.

Some say the Blarney stone was Jacob’s Pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. Here it became the Lia Fail or ‘Fatal Stone’, used as an oracular throne of Irish kings – a kind of Harry Potter-like ‘sorting hat’ for kings. It was also said to be the deathbed pillow of St Columba on the island of Iona. Legend says it was then removed to mainland Scotland, where it served as the prophetic power of royal succession, the Stone of Destiny.

When Cormac MacCarthy, King of Munster, sent five thousand men to support Robert the Bruce in his defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314, a portion of the historic Stone was given by the Scots in gratitude – and it was returned to Ireland.

Others say it may be a stone brought back to Ireland from the Crusades – the ‘Stone of Ezel’ behind which David hid on Jonathan’s advice when he fled from his enemy, Saul. A few claim it was the stone that gushed water when struck by Moses.

Whatever the truth of its origin, we believe a witch saved from drowning revealed its power to the MacCarthys.

WATCH OUT FOR LEPRECHAUNS

According to folklore, you get pinched on StPatrick’s day for not wearing green because green makes you invisible to leprechauns, and leprechauns like to pinch people (because they can!) The tradition is tied to folklore that says wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns, which like to pinch anyone they can see. Some people also think sporting the color will bring good luck, and others wear it to honor their Irish ancestry.

According to Irish legends, people lucky enough to find a leprechaun and capture him (or, in some stories, steal his magical ring, coin or amulet) can barter his freedom for his treasure. Leprechauns are usually said to be able to grant the person three wishes. But dealing with leprechauns can be a tricky proposition.

St. Patrick’s Day is an opportunity to spend time having some fun with the people in your life you care about most and make some memories that you won’t forget.

 

HAPPY ST. PATTY’S DAY!

HAPPY HUNTING

THE PIERCE FAMILY HISTORIAN

 

**NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.

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