From sainthood to global superstar - significant dates in St Patrick's rise to fame
Life & Style

From sainthood to global superstar - significant dates in St Patrick's rise to fame

WITH St Patrick's Day nearly upon is - and all celebrations taking place online this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic - now is as good a time as any to reflect on the life of Ireland's patron saint.

Today he is one of the best-known saints in the world, with celebrations taking in place in his honour annually across the globe.

But how much do you know about his journey from sainthood to worldwide recognition?

Read on to find out more...


Mid 400 AD - Patrick arrives in Ireland, probably from Scotland. Soon turns the place into a land of saints and scholars and receives the top award back then – sainthood.

493 —The date usually given for St. Patrick’s death is March 17, 493. He dies in Saul, in what is now Co. Down. His grave in Downpatrick also contains the remains of Ireland’s other two patron saints St. Colmcille and St. Brigid.

800 —The Vikings fetch up in their longboats. Even by the standards of the Dark Ages, these are an uncultured horde. Much of St Patrick’s work is undone by the Norse men, as monasteries are sacked, and churches burnt to the ground.

900 — Matters settle down. The Vikings are tamed and establish cities like Dublin and Waterford. In general Ireland slumbers on, unsuspectingly. St Patrick’s monasteries have been rebuilt, and still do good business.

1000 —The last ‘peaceful’ St Patrick’s Day before the Anglo-Normans arrive. His feast day is celebrated in humble fashion by the faithful. Not many parties about, and craic only around 20 to 25, with occasional gusts up to 40.

1169 — The Anglo Normans, arrive. Christian adherents, but they come with some very un-Christian attitudes — they tend towards being greedy, powerful, vindictive and overbearing.

1500s— Emerging from the middle ages, some of the Anglo-Normans have become “more Irish than the Irish themselves” and now revere St Patrick.

1601 — The world’s first ever St Patrick’s Day Parade is held — in St Augustine, Florida. It’s organised by a local Irish priest who had arrived with the Spanish.

1630 - Waterford-born Luke Wadding does sterling work for the Irish cause in Rome and manages to get St Patrick's Feast Day put on the Church's universal calendar.

1691 – The Irish get used to withstanding oppression, emigration and a lot of drizzle. Rebellion becomes endemic. In 1691 Patrick Sarsfield is killed at the Battle of Aughrim. But his exploits on behalf of Ireland make the name Patrick popular throughout the country. Heretofore it wasn’t a big mover.

1737 – The St Patrick’s Day parade gets going in Boston, Massachusetts. This is a bigger affair than the Florida effort, and puts the day firmly on the American calendar. Soon the Americans are fully indulging for St Patrick’s celebrations, dyeing the beer green, dyeing the rivers green and holding parades.

1903 – St Patrick’s Day becomes a public holiday in Ireland for the first time. Dublin’s chances of becoming party-time central greatly improved, with the craic edging up towards 90. But there are a few more hurdles to clear.

1916 — Easter, not St Patrick’s is the big one this year. One of the leaders of the Rising, Padraig Pearse, continues the work of Patrick Sarsfield in popularising the patron saint’s name.

1931 – Ireland’s first ever St Patrick’s Day parade takes place in Dublin. But it’s more of a military affair, reviewed by the then Minister of Defence.

1972 – Ireland joins the EU. There are fears that Brussels may insist on Ireland taking back all the snakes driven out by St Patrick, but it proves to be just a rumour, like the straight bananas.

1996 – London’s first St Patrick’s Day parade.

2020 & 2021 – All St Patrick’s Day parades and festivals, from Dubai to Dublin, and from Moscow to Mullingar, are given their marching orders because of Covid-19. Or, technically speaking, not given their marching orders.