Quad Cities, IL/IA

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A Bit of Irish Knowledge


By Mary Huebbe, Marketing Director, Ridgecrest Village

Every St. Patrick’s Day the Irish comes out in all of us. Irish or not, we like to join in the fun because celebrations are everywhere in the Quad Cities. The festivities begin with the St. Patrick’s Parade, but what is the story behind St. Patrick’s Day? How many people know what they are celebrating?

According to legend, St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century. His father was a deacon in the Christian Church, and his grandfather was a priest. Kidnapped at the age of sixteen, he was sold as a slave in Ireland and spent six years there. It was then he “found God,” who told him to flee to the coast where a ship would be waiting to take him home. Once he returned to his homeland, he became a priest, too, and was “called” to return to Ireland to teach Christianity.

While teaching Christianity, St. Patrick used a shamrock (found everywhere in Ireland) as a tool to describe the trinity. According to H. J Thurston in Butler’s Lives of the Saints, this “single plant with three leaves is analogous to the one Triune God with three separate and distinct Persons.” St. Patrick converted thousands of people throughout Ireland (he is also said to have driven out all the snakes, though in reality, the country never had any). As a result, he became the Ireland’s foremost saint. March 17th is the day he is said to have passed away.

Today, we use green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but the original color was actually St. Patrick Blue. Green didn’t come about until the Great Irish Rebellion in 1641. Commander Owen Roe O’Neill who led the rebellion used a green flag with a harp to represent the confederation of Kilkenny. The green color took over completely in the 1700s.

Many silly traditions are associated with the day. Have you ever heard of “drowning the shamrock?” When someone drinks from Patrick’s Pot, the name given to the measure of whiskey to be drunk on St. Patrick’s Day, tradition dictates that a shamrock should be floated on the top, hence the expression, “drowning the shamrock.”

Some early revelers believed that wearing green made you invisible to leprechauns, fairy creatures who would pinch people, but you wouldn’t get pinched if the leprechaun couldn’t see you. When I went to school, people would pinch anyone who didn’t wear green to remind them of the leprechauns!

Another tradition is turning the Chicago River green. According to The Chicago Tribune, for over five decades the Rowan and Butler family clans have been responsible for turning the murky water bright green. “The only way to become part of the six-person boat crew is to be related by blood or marriage to either Mike Butler or Tom Rowan. Each year, the crew shakes an orange powder — a top secret recipe — into the Chicago River from a sifter and it stays green for about five hours.”  That’s something I would love to see!

The tradition of showing our “Irishness” through St. Patrick’s Day Parades did not originate in Ireland. It is an American tradition started in 1737 and hosted by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston. Today they are held all over the world to raise a glass to the patron saint.
For St. Patrick’s Day this year, Ridgecrest Village will celebrate with a treasure hunt! On March 16th, from 2 to 3:30, come join us for a hunt around our campus (all inside). There will be clues to follow and prizes for finding them. At the end, we will give you a taste of Irish appetizers and Irish drinks. You can sign up for a chance to win our Grand Prize; which will be found at the “end of the rainbow.” We will announce the grand prize winner on our radio talk show WOC1420 on Saturday March 17th between 9 to 9:30am. Call Mary or Karen at 563-391-3430 for your reservation to join in the fun.

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go — Irish Blessing

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone from Ridgecrest Village.

Call Karen or Mary at 563-391-3430, for lunch and a tour. We enjoy the company.