St. Patrick was actually a Roman citizen who was born around 385 in the Pictish colony of what is now Scotland, probably in the old Roman fortified town now called Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa (Cal and Connie to their friends), who were in charge of the local Celtic colonies -- never an easy job, especially for folks accustomed to the luxuries of Rome -- like vomitoriums with hot and cold running water, real lead pipes in the commodes, and so on.

As a boy of fourteen or so, Patrick was captured by an Irish raiding party (probably a bunch of Notre Dame frat boys on a lark) and taken back to the Emerald Isle as a slave. Since he was an erudite and eloquent young man from a nice family and the finest Roman schools, they gave him a job commensorate with his many talents -- they made him tend sheep. The sheep, I might add, got quite an education in the deal, and oh, the stories they heard (as they were herded) on those dark and dreary Irish nights....

Now, Ireland at this time was a land of Druids, and pagans, and other lefty Liberals. Patrick learned the language and practices of his captors, which was different from that of Rome, and also from the Picts of Scotland, who painted themselves blue and ran naked into battle, yelling "woo hoos, woo hoos! We gots the blues, how about you's?", which, while not necessarily grammatically correct, did have the desired effect of scaring the bejeepers (that's the technical term) out of their enemies, who promptly asked where they could have a drink of what those blue guys were having....

But I digress.

The language and practices of the Irish differed from the Scots (and the Scotts as well, but let's leave my college experiences out of this...) in several significant ways. For one thing, they didn't paint themselves blue and run naked into battle. Instead, they painted themselves green, put on plaid dresses, and then ran screaming into battle, yelling "Give me another pint, and it'd better be green beer! Give me another pint, else I'll be barfing on ya' right here!" Which, of course, got them thrown out of some of the finer bars in Europe, such as they were.

Anyway, Patrick adapted quickly to the local culture, got his captors drunk, and escaped back to Scotland. He quickly came back to Ireland because those Romans couldn't brew a decent Stout to save their empire.

Upon his return to Ireland, however, he discovered to his dismay (and dis-June as well) that a bunch of snakes (my wife calls them Men) had taken over the brewery and were keeping all the Guiness for themselves. Not a terribly patient man, Patrick then grabbed the biggest stick he could find and chased all the snakes away, while yelling "Look out, look out! I've come to drive them out! And, no matter what you do, don't make me spill my Stout, you Lout!"

And, in the interests of fairness, here is a nice St. Patrick's Day Website, from a nice home, and raised by nice parents:


-- Scott "Struck by the Blarney Stone" McHaud

The Hayloft, The Stalls, and Other Places in the Barn
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