by Tamara Hillman
March is an in-between month—its not exactly spring, but the worst of old Jack Frost’s season has passed, so it’s not exactly winter either. Yes, its time to oil the harness, and grease the tractor to make ready for plowin’, but not much else.
There is but one, minor holiday in this month to break up the monotony…
St. Paddy’s Day is a time when everyone becomes Irish for a day, and drink lots of green beer in all the pubs scattered across this country, and on the isle of Ireland. And though I’m a quarter Irish, we never noted this day all that much in my youth. I think when my Irish granddad on ‘me mudder’s’ side was being raised it was better to hide your Irish heritage in order to get work. He had no accent since he was second-generation Irish, but I’m sure his immigrant parents felt much discrimination upon their arrival at Ellis Island trying to make a new life in North America far from hearth and home. History is lost as to whether they came because of the ‘Potato Famine’ in the Motherland, or just why. I have always presumed that may have been the reasoning behind their crossing the raging seas only to be spit upon, starved in the slums, and kept out of the workplace. My own kin finally settled in Missouri far from the cities, and became farmers.
I do believe, however, old St. Paddy was a soul to be hailed and remembered for his great deeds in Ireland, which wasn’t even his original birthplace, or home.
From what I can gather about the history of the ol’ boy—he was not Irish but Welsh. When he was about 16, he was captured from Wales by Irish raiders, and taken as a slave back to Ireland where he survived six years before escaping, and returning to his family.
In Wales, he became an ordained bishop, and in later years returned again to the northwest of Ireland, but little is known about exactly where he preached. Even so, by the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.
Most annals imply he ministered in what is modern-day Northern Ireland from 428 until his death. The dates of the saint’s life cannot be fixed with certainty, but on a widespread interpretation, he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the 5th century.
Saint Patrick's Day is observed on March 17, the date of his death. It is celebrated as both a solemnity, and a holy day of obligation by those of Catholic faith, and in general, a celebration of Ireland itself.
According to the latest reconstruction of the old Irish annals, St. Patrick died in AD 461 on March 17, a date accepted by some modern historians, but since the 1940’s that date has been argued as much later.
While St. Patrick's own writings contain no dates, they do contain information that can be used to date them. Quotations from his own ‘Acts of the Apostles’ follow the ‘Vulgate’ strongly suggesting his ecclesiastical conversion did not take place before the early 5th century. St. Patrick also refers to the ‘Franks,’ (an Irish heathen clan) as being pagans. Their religious conversion is dated in the period of 496–508.
Accordingly, the remains of St. Patrick were moved, and subsequently reburied some sixty years after his death to a shrine by Colum Cille. Three splendid artifacts were found in the original burial-place—his goblet, the Angel’s Gospel, and the Bell of the Testament.
This event is listed as happening in the year 553 indicating St. Patrick's death was 493, or at least in the early years of that decade. But, his date of death should not be argued to such an extent when it’s his life that was of great worth, not his death.
St. Patrick, archbishop, and apostle of the Irish, rested in his 120th year of age, in the 60th year after he had returned to Ireland in order to baptize Irish heathens.
What a testament of forgiveness after being captured, and enslaved six years by these people in his youth.
But, enough about ancient history…
Let’s think about spring, and putting in a new garden of wonderful veggies, planting rows of beautiful flowers, or cultivating annuals as they pop their colorful heads through the soft wet earth. It’s such an awakening of dormant trees and bushes that have looked bare and woody throughout the long winter months.
I personally feel the world comes alive in spring as though it has risen from the dead like Lazereth. Only the ‘Great Creator’ could work such wonders during the four seasons…
Two poems to get you in the mood for the holiday and spring:
Ireland, dear Ireland,
land of emerald green,
red-haired girls with freckles,
boys tall, and lanky-lean.
Where workingmen still gather
drinking dark and foamy brew.
Each afternoon at “Ye Ol’ Pub,”
they share a pint or two.
Most are full of blarney
who hail from over there—
they believe in “Little People,”
with rosy cheeks so fair.
Tho’ some have left forever,
others cling to shore,
holding fast their heritage—
no soul could want for more.
Ireland, dear Ireland,
land of emerald green,
I’ve traveled many countries—
no more beauty have I seen.
Scents of blossoms fill the air,
fresh, pungent odors everywhere,
and as I slumber in my bed,
smells nourish senses in my head.
Essence of crimson, colors sweet,
moonbeams golden at my feet,
with window open, there to dream,
enlightened of spring, or so it seems.
Epiphanies of wondrous things,
bequeathed of God,
my soul does sing.