Saint Patrick (c.390-c461), the patron saint of Ireland, is enthusiastically celebrated wherever Irish people have settled. He was formally famous all over the English-speaking world for bringing Christianity to Ireland, although the heroic, almost single-handed nature of his ministry has been greatly exaggerated and his two most famous exploits – banning all snakes from Ireland, and using the shamrock to explain the doctrine of the Trinity to doubting heathens – are much later accretions to his legend.
The key feature of his day is the wearing of shamrocks, the colour green, and previously a cross of St Patrick.
[©Steve Roud: The English Year. Penguin 2006]