Monday, March 16, 2009

May the luck of the Irish be with you

True history and legend are often intertwined when it comes to St. Patrick. It is known that he was born in Banwen, Wales and was kidnapped and sold in Ireland as a slave. He became fluent in the Irish language before making his escape to the continent.

Eventually he was ordained as a deacon, then as a priest, and finally as a bishop. Pope Celestine then sent him back to Ireland to preach the gospel. Evidently, he was a great traveler, especially in Celtic countries, as innumerable places in Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are named after him.

It is here that actual history and legend become difficult to separate. Patrick is most known the world over for having driven the snakes from Ireland. Different tales tell of his standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from the shores of Ireland. One legend says that one old serpent resisted, but the Saint overcame it by cunning. He is said to have made a box and invited the reptile to enter. The snake insisted the box was too small and the discussion became very heated. Finally, the snake entered the box to prove he was right, whereupon St Patrick slammed the lid and cast the box into the sea. While it is true there are no snakes in Ireland, chances are that there never have been since the time the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the ice age. As in many old pagan religions serpent symbols were common, and possibly even worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice.

While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it was St. Patrick who encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rights. He converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the Holy Wells, which still bear that name. According to tradition, St. Patrick died in A.D. 493 and was buried in the same grave as St. Bridget and St. Columba at Downpatrick, County Down. The jawbone of St. Patrick was preserved in a silver shrine and was often requested in times of childbirth, epileptic fits, and as a preservative against the evil eye. Another legend says St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Galstonbury Abbey. There is evidence of an Irish pilgrimage to his tomb during the reign of the Saxon King Ine in A.D. 688, when a group of pilgrims headed by St. Indractus were murdered.

The great anxiety displayed in the middle ages to possess the bodies, or at least the relics of saints, accounts for the many discrepant traditions as to the burial places of St. Patrick and others.

Luck Of The Irish

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Irish Jokes

A drunk staggers into a Catholic Church, enters a confessional booth, sits down, but says nothing.
The Priest coughs a few times to get his attention, but the drunk continues to sit there.
Finally, the Priest pounds three times on the wall.
The drunk mumbles, "Ain't no use knockin, there's no paper on this side either."

Six retired Irishmen were playing poker in O'Leary's apartment when Paddy Murphy loses $500 on a single hand, clutches his chest, and drops dead at the table. Showing respect for their fallen brother, the other five continue playing standing up.
Michael O'Conner looks around and asks, "Oh, me boys, someone got's to tell Paddy's wife. Who will it be?" They draw straws. Paul Gallagher picks the short one. They tell him to be discreet, be gentle, don't make a bad situation any worse."Discreet??? I'm the most discreet Irishmen you'll ever meet. Discretion is me middle name. Leave it to me."
Gallagher goes over to Murphy's house and knocks on the door. Mrs. Murphy answers, and asks what he wants. Gallagher declares, "Your husband just lost $500, and is afraid to come home."
"Tell him to drop dead!", says Murphy's wife..
"I'll go tell him." says Gallagher.

Into a Belfast pub comes Paddy Murphy, looking like he'd just been run over by a train. His arm is in a sling, his nose is broken, his face is cut, and bruised, and he's walking with a limp.
"What happened to you?" asks Sean, the bartender.
"Jamie O'Conner and me had a fight," says Paddy.
"That little O'Conner," says Sean, "He couldn't do that to you, he must have had something in his hand."
"That he did," says Paddy, "a shovel is what he had, and a terrible lickin' he gave me with it."
"Well," says Sean, "you should have defended yourself. Didn't you have something in your hand?"
That I did," said Paddy, "Mrs. O'Conner's breast, and a thing of beauty it was; but useless in a fight."


An Irishman who had a little too much to drink is driving home from the city one night and, of course, his car is weaving violently all over the road.
A cop pulls him over. "So," says the cop to the driver, "where have ya been?"
"Why, I've been to the pub of course," slurs the drunk.
"Well," says the cop, "it looks like you've had quite a few to drink this evening."
"I did all right," the drunk says with a smile.
"Did you know," says the cop, standing straight, and folding his arms across his chest, "that a few intersections back, your wife fell out of your car?"
"Oh, thank heavens," sighs the drunk. "for a minute there, I thought I'd gone deaf."

Mary Clancy goes up to Father O'Grady after his Sunday morning service, and she's in tears.
He says, "So what's bothering you, Mary my dear?"
She says, "Oh, Father, I've got terrible news. My husband passed away last night."
The priest says, "Oh, Mary, that's terrible. Tell me, Mary, did he have any last requests?"
She says, "That he did, Father."
The priest says, "What did he ask, Mary?"
" She says, "He said, 'Please Mary, put down that damn gun...' "