St. Patrick's Legacy: Green Beer and Hangovers?

St. Patrick's Parade in Singapore
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St. Patricks Day is upon us. A time for making merry, and joviality the Irish way. But what is it really?

Most of us just use it as an excuse to get merry, with lots of Bushmills and Guinness flowing or even a Middleton or two, some of us will dress in gold and green. But there is a deeper meaning to the day. I went back in to the history chronicles of Ireland to find out.

Saint Patrick was believed to have been born in the late fourth century, in England, sold into slavery as a shepherd in Ireland, escaped to England after six years, but returned back to slavery after returning to his home country.

St. Patrick is often confused with Palladius, a bishop who was sent by Pope Celestine in 431 to be the first bishop to the Irish believers in Christ. This was seen to be the birth of the Catholic religion in Ireland, which has manifested itself in every day life for over ninety percent of the Irish population. Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.

St. Patrick penned two documents in his lifetime that are revered to be the major influences as to his patronage, the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, as well as his Epistola, which is a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians. Saint Patrick in these documents described himself as a "most humble-minded man".

Many people associate Saint Patrick with driving the snakes out of. Whilst it is true there are no snakes in Ireland, there probably never were any - the island was separated from the rest of continental Europe by the end of the Ice Age. He is also associated with putting an end to the Pagan Druid ceremonies and rites at Tara converting the warrior chiefs and baptizing them at the holy wells in Ireland.

He is purported to have died on March 17th 460 A.D., and this is the most commonly accepted date of the first St. Patrick's day celebrations in his memory. Even though he was a Catholic Priest, the Church of England honored his work in Christianity with a burial place in Glastonbury Cathedral, according to lore. The Chapel of Saint Patrick is still apart of Glastonbury Cathedral today. Many other places of worship have been named after him in many countries around the world, and he is still the best known of all the patron saints.

St. Patrick's Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. Over the years it has become a reason to be a part of everything that is Irish, or seen to be, by not only those that are Irish, but all of us.

As we all embark on our various trails on March 17th, remember why this day is, and has become important to us all. Many places in Singapore will be holding celebrations on this day, and I am sure that most of you will attend at least one of them. All the Irish bars will be holding some sort of party, from Muddy Murphy's to Molly Roffey's and McGettigan's CQ.

If you happen to be in Singapore on this festive day, you will rejoice that there are many different Irish bars/pubs here, the two best ones are MUDDY MURPHY'S and MOLLY MALONE'S. We have all been to them, some of us have made them our locals, but where did these two get their names from?

Muddy Murphy - Whilst little is known about Muddy, his ancestors, Boxty and Paddy are much better known. Boxty was, according to Irish folklore, the son of a charmed Leprechaune and a local pub owner. In the summer of 1661 Boxty was overseeing the roasting of the barley for the making of the ale for his mothers pub, and in the midst of having 'a little' drink himself, burnt the barley.

Dreading the wrath of his parents, he mixed the burnt barley into a new ale mix, and hoping no-one would notice the difference in color, served the ale to the customers. Instead of the usual golden brow beer the villagers were used to, it was a very dark black color. The new ale sold put in the first day, and so was born Guinness.

The Great Grand Father of Muddy Murphy was, in 1847 a potato farmer in Ireland, this was also during the years of the great potato famine in Ireland. The famine caused many of the eight million people in Eire at this time to abandon their homes and land in search of food. Paddy Murphy's crops were unaffected at this time, and realizing this, he proceeded to donate his entire crop to the surrounding villagers.

This self sacrificing act has led to Paddy being a revered name, or nick name among Irish people today. The area where Paddy Murphy had his land is still called 'Paddy Fields' today.

Molly Malone - 'As she wheels her wheelbarrow through the streets broad and narrow crying cockles and mussels alive alive 'o.' These are words of the now famous song depicting the life of Molly Malone. It is known by almost every man, woman or child of the English speaking world. But who amongst us know the history of this song?

Molly died in 1699, in a tiny street in Dublin, whilst wheeling here wares around town. Molly a local fishmonger, was also a local prostitute who sallied here 'wares' in and around the Dublin streets. In over three hundred years, Molly has been the name most revered by Irish bars the world over, with the majority of internet links to her being one of the reasons that the Irish pub culture has been a fast growing industry.

Much of what we know of Molly Malone is sceptical as records in the late 17th century were not totally accurate, or have been lost over the years. The most current beliefs are that Molly Malone was born Mary Malone, who was baptized on July 7th 1663, and a Molly Malone buried in the same church on June 13th 1699, (this day has also become to be known as Molly Malone day). Molly is a version of the name Mary, and the rest is up to you...

The events of March 17th , will, no matter where you are in the world, be a time of frivolity, a 'Craic' that will endure, and a time of fun and merry making. With this in mind, let us remember the souls of the past that have lent their names to the main 'drinking session' of the year. Let us not end up like Muddy and burn the barley, or deceive the Bishop, especially let us not end up like Molly.

Wherever you are, drink sensibly, act responsibly and above all, have a great St. Patrick's day celebration.

The Jig's Up 

The leprechauns are laughing 
For their day is finally here 
The legends and the folklore 
Seep through the atmosphere 
The dancers are all ready 
An Irish jig is in the air 
The walls of the pubs are bursting 
There is not an empty chair 
As the night becomes the morning, 
The barman leads the song 
From Danny Boy to Irish Eyes 
The serenade goes on. 
Then a husky voice is heard to say 
Make this your final stein 
For St. Patrick's day is over 
At it's time Gentlemen it's time.

'Morning is the time to pity the sober man, for that is the best that he will feel all day' (An old Irish saying).

'Top 'o the morning t'ya'!

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