When the original St Patrick’s Church was built in the 1800s ( now demolished) many of the priests who served in the Church and the congregation were Irish and the choice of the decoration and the naming reflected their influence. As time passed a new Church was built in Pentrebane Street and this too has elements related to St Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland. On the main altar there are shamrock symbols and the walls of this altar were decorated with golden crosses on a blue background.
A large white stone statue of St Patrick stands above the main entrance to the Church and a smaller statue of St Patrick stands beside the entrance to the sacristy. The original free -standing St Patrick statue was much larger, and legend has it that Canon Tom Phelan carried it on his back from the old church to the new.
St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in many communities across the world each year on March 17th.
Not much is known about his early life, but it is believed that he was born in Wales into quite a wealthy family and may have been welsh-speaking. At a young age he was captured and sold into slavery by a group of marauders who raided his family estate.
Patrick was a slave for six long years, during which time he lived and worked an isolated existence as a shepherd. He finally managed to escape his captors, and according to his writings, a voice spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.
It is said that Patrick walked nearly 200 miles to the Irish coast and having reached safety, he then experienced a second revelation— an angel in a dream telling him to return as a missionary. He travelled to Gaul ( modern day France) where he received religious instruction under the Bishop of Auxerre. His study lasted for more than fifteen years and culminated with his ordination as a priest.
After his return to Ireland, it is said that Patrick was imprisoned on several occasions, but he managed to escape each time. He travelled extensively throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country, setting up the schools and churches that would aid him in his conversion of the Irish to Christianity.
He is believed to have died on March 17th in AD 461, and since then, the date has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day.
A rich tradition of oral legend and myth surrounds St. Patrick . Some of these legends recall how Patrick raised people from the dead, others that he drove all the snakes from Ireland. However, snakes have never been present in Ireland but it is thought that St Patrick used ‘snakes’ to refer to those who were reluctant to embrace Christianity.
Another Irish tale which may also have an element of truth about it tells how Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity. It is thought that he used it to show how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. His followers adopted the custom of wearing the shamrock on his feast day.
Prayer from St Patrick’s Breastplate (part of a poem by St Patrick)
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
An Irish Blessing ( attributed to St Patrick)
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.