Saint Paddy’s Day! Pest Control
Everyone has conspiracy theories. I figured one having to do with Saint Paddy’s Day would be timely.
Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland was known for driving all of the snakes out of Ireland. How did he get this reputation? Now we can tell you the real “story behind the story”.
While Saint Patrick lived long ago in the Emerald Isle, his popularity wasn’t established until the mid 1800s when the story of one Patrick Duffy Finch came back to Ireland in a round about way from Boston in America. Born in 1722 in Bedfordshire, England, young Patrick was apprenticed to a barrel maker in Cardiff at a very young age. By 1740, he had moved from Cardiff to London and had a small but thriving business selling fine oak barrels to the local brewing establishments. (Note: the style of barrel that her originated, the Duffy Barrel, is still used in parts of Wales today in cider making). Young Patrick found that he had a way with words, that often got him into trouble with the locals, and sometime around 1746 or 1747, he was invited to leave London and made his way to Dublin, where he gained fame as a barrel maker and public relations man for the local working man’s societies popular in mid 18th century Ireland.
By 1758, as a result of a bar bet, Patrick Duffy (he dropped the Finch when he moved to Dublin) started the greatest hoax yet played on that sainted island. Using his contacts and his way with words, Patrick convinced the local population that it was HE, using a new and secret invention, had removed all of the snakes from Ireland. As the story gained credibility throughout the city, he was hailed as a hero. He never bought himself another drink in Dublin until 1762 when the great grain famine started. The cause of this calamity, unfortunately, was an overabundance of rodents. Unfortunately, everyone knew that snakes eat rats and so, blamed for the grain failures (the Irish began planting the more rodent proof potatoes the following year), Patrick again was forced to hastily leave the sainted shores and he made his way to the American Colonies.
Unable to find work in the Colonies, he moved west into what would become known as Kentucky and by 1772, he was living in a small prototype utopian community in what would become Carrolton, Kentucky , on the Ohio River. The story says that when an Irish immigrant, familiar with the Patrick stories from Dublin, settled in the community sometime in 1773 or 1774, Patrick became something of a local leader. By 1776, after the death of the community’s founder, Waldo Harvey Garrison, Patrick Duffy took over the community as its spiritual leader. Having his “snake reputation” however was difficult for him and in a wonder misinterpretation of the Biblical book of Mark, he added snake handling to the religious activities of the community. Several splinter groups formed from the main community and they moved into the Appalachian Hills where some of the practices continue today.
After several untimely deaths due to rattlesnake poisoning, Patrick was forced again to migrate back to the seaboard where he settled in Albany, New York, and again made a thriving business making Duffy Barrels for cider and beer. In 1792, after having made a small fortune in New York, he moved to Boston where he settled in with the Irish community, became active in various charities, and attended the local taverns religiously until his death in 1799 at the age of 77. For the last decade of his life, he worked hard trying to “re-spin” the Irish snake story, claiming that it was REALLY Saint Patrick who performed the feat of moving the snakes out of Ireland. By the mid 1800s, the Saint Patrick version was the common one on both sides of the Atlantic, and though remembered for his brew barrels, Patrick Duffy Finch’s greatest invention was forgotten.
So….a modern “made up” holiday? Or an ancient tradition? YOU be the judge.
The above MAY contain some factual errors! In fact, the above may be ALL factual errors! I don’t know why I should have a disclaimer….but GOOD LORD you people sometimes just take me too seriously.