Friday, February 18, 2011

May the road rise up to meet you...Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

Illustration courtesy of Karen's Whimsy  

My favorite holiday, next to Thanksgiving, is of course St. Patrick’s Day. Both of my maternal grandparents made the trip from Ballyhaunis, County Mayo long ago. My grandmother was “lace curtain Irish” while my grandfather was “shanty Irish.” They did not meet and marry until they were both in the United States. Together, they raised a family of 12 and like many others, lost everything during the Great Depression.

In 2008 I wrote a blog post dedicated to them. If you would like to step back in time with me visit .

On St. Patrick’s Day I get together with my family and cousins to celebrate, a day when everyone is just a wee bit Irish. Below are some stories, music, proverbs and more to help you understand a bit more about this celebration and the history of the wonderful people of Ireland
  • There are 36.5 million U.S. residents with Irish roots. This number is almost nine times the population of Ireland itself (more than four million).Irish ranks among the top five ancestries in every state except Hawaii and New Mexico. It is the leading ancestry group in Delaware, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
  • The Irish have observed St. Patrick’s Day, a religious holiday for over a thousand years.
  • The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762.
  • St. Patrick's Day is celebrated by people of all backgrounds in the United States, Canada and Australia. It is also celebrated in Japan, Singapore and Russia.
  • Chicago is famous dyeing the Chicago River green on St. Patrick’s Day.
  • More than 100 St. Patrick's Day parades are held across the United States. New York City and Boston are home to the largest celebrations.
  • The Celts had an oral culture, where religion, legend and history were passed from one generation to the next by way of stories and songs. After being conquered by the English, and forbidden to speak their own language. The Irish turned to music hold on to their heritage and history
  • The original Irish name for leprechaun’s is "lobaircin," meaning "small-bodied fellow." Minor figures in Celtic folklore they are known for their trickery, often used to protect their much-fabled treasure. Leprechauns had nothing to do with St. Patrick or the celebration of St. Patrick's Day, a Catholic holy day.  
  • The shamrock, which was also called the "seamroy" by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring.

     The above information was found at:  

Many of us will be “wearing the green” soon in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day so here’s a head start on finding some of the faerie folk!

Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms and Superstitions of Ireland - From 1902 a wonderful antique book full of tales and information by Lady Wilde, mother of Oscar Wilde.

Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, 1892.

Fairy Tales and Folktales of the Irish Peasantry - Edited by W. B. Yeats and published in 1888 the stories are here to enjoy, courtesy of Sacred Texts. Revel in tales of the Merrow, Changelings, Pookas, Fairies and Banshees, Saints, Priests, Giants and Devils, Kings, Queens, Earls and Robbers; Yeats covers them all!

The Fireside Stories of Ireland by Patrick Kennedy, 1870. 

The Irish Storyteller - Did you ever wonder how Eire got its name? Come read this Celtic legend, meet Irish Chieftains, Queens and more! – For a list of Celtic websites I have collected through the years go to:

The Welsh Fairy Book - Eighty-four stories published in 1907 by Jenkyn Thomas, along with a page of pronunciation notes.

The four sites below are books spanning from 1893 to 1920 and were all found via Google Books. They are in the public domain and can be downloaded for free.

The Celtic Twilight - Offered by William Butler Yeats and published in 1893, he writes in the forward, “I have invented nothing but my own comments and one or two deceitful sentences that may keep some poor storytellers discourse with the devils and the angels….”

Folk-Lore and Legends: Legends, Myths and Fairy Tales by Cathryn Wallace, 1910.

Irish Fairy Tales - Brought to you by James Stephens all the way from 1920; beginning with The Story of Tuan Mac Cairill and ending with Mongan’s Frenzy.

Irish Fairy Tales, Folklore and Legend - Illustrated by Geoffrey Strahan and published in 1904 this book offers a variety of English, Scottish and Irish folk-lore.


Apples for the Teacher - A nice selection of children's books perfect for St. Patrick's Day.


Leprechaun Crafts -
St. Patrick’s Day Wreaths  
St. Patrick’s Day Word Jumble -
St. Patrick’s Day Word Search -
St. Patrick’s Day Coloring Pages -
St. Patrick’s Day Crafts and Printables -
St. Patrick's Day Coloring Pages -


Mama Lisa – Children’s Songs from Ireland

Perpetual School House

Love to Learn – A great new site I just stumbled upon. Lots of fingerplays here for a variety of holidays. This link will take you to those for St. Patrick’s Day.


Mifflin County School District This is like find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Wonderful links, including the history of Ireland, activities, stories and more.

Read, Write, Think – For grades 1 – 12.


Irish Blessings, Curses, Proverbs and Quotations

Sláinte mhaith! (Good health) – Another of my blog post for St. Patrick’s Day from 2010. Additional, stories, crafts and more.

Karen Chace  2011 ©
This blog post was painstakingly researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my newsletter via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.