snakes out of ireland

i just learned there is apparently a belief in some neopagan circles that st. patrick casting out the snakes from ireland, an island which has never had snakes in human history, is a metaphor for patrick converting ireland to christianity by force. the story is that patrick killed and expelled irish druids who wore snake tattoos on their arms, and this narrative later transformed into our modern version. interesting! and completely baseless, i’m afraid. the idea apparently comes from a hagiography of st. patrick that indicates patrick killed druid “wizards” with jesus magic, but none of this fits the historical record. ireland wasn’t christianized by the time of st. patrick’s death. he died in relative obscurity, in fact. the christianization of ireland, which likely was not completed until over a century after patrick’s death, was actually super peaceful compared to other places. and in the 7th and 8th centuries, by which time christianity was firmly planted in ireland, there are at least two legal texts that give druids a relatively high social ranking. all of this stands against these ideas about st. patrick as a historical villain. not to mention i can’t even find a shred of evidence for the idea that druids had snake tattoos. (and if ireland didn’t have snakes, why would they?)

The Real Real Story of St. Patrick’s Day

We all know the mythology that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. Obviously it’s a myth. There were never snakes in Ireland because of the combination of cold climate and being an island.

Most pagans know the story that the snakes are a metaphor for pagans and that St. Patrick ran a convert or kill campaign and ended paganism is Ireland.

Many don’t know that’s also a myth. There’s no evidence that St. Patrick ever killed anyone, and we know for certain that there was still a Celtic pagan population in Ireland after his lifetime.

No, the snake myth probably came about the same way as many myths. People wanted to know why there were no snakes, and someone made up a story to explain it.

The pagan myth came about the same way as many other myths. Partial truth meets political agenda.

St. Patrick did convert a lot of pagans, and no doubt used some questionable means to do so, but there’s no evidence he used violence.

St. Patrick’s Day was originally a celebration of the man who made the single greatest contribution to the Christianization of Ireland. But he was one of many, in a process which took place over a broad span of time. A process which ultimately was not completely effective. Irish Catholicism is full of Celtic pagan imagery and stories, and there are many who claim unbroken pagan family traditions passed down in secret.

Today, the holiday is increasingly secularized, and has become simply a celebration of Irish and Celtic culture. It is my feeling it should be honored as such.


Cannot stand St. Patrick’s Day and all these ignorant mutha f'ers who party and celebrate this cúl tóna. Aside from the fact he was not even Irish, he came to Ireland to convert the “savage” druidic natives. Pagans are heathens you know, so his driving out the serpents (no mutha f'ing snakes in Ireland at the time btw) was converting the Gaelic people and killing those who opposed. Some saint.
Oh, and you know why Ireland started dying food and drink green? To remember the millions who died during the potato famine; brought to you courtesy of the same holier than thou Christian invaders. People had started eating grass during the famine so people died with green in their mouths from the grass.
So yeah, when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day - ‘is cuma sa toll feisithe liomsa. And all you ignorant aiteanns getting drunk this day - gabh transna ort fhéin.

Fun facts about St. Patrick:

-Patrick was Scottish and was born into wealth

-Patrick was sold into slavery to a druid in Ireland

-While enslaved Patrick became a Christian, and continually prayed for his escape

-Patrick did not create the “clover” analogy to describe the Trinity, since that description would be heretical (and is heretical).
-Patrick was not a part of the “western church” (also known as the Roman Catholic Church). The schism didn’t happen until 1090 AD, Patrick was alive during the 4th/5th century. 

-Patrick’s writings line up with more Reformed beliefs

-Patrick never drove snakes out of Ireland, since there are no snakes in Ireland. The snakes might be in reference to the druids or paganism that was in Ireland.

So raise a pint of beer, or a snifter of scotch, to a great Christian man who helped bring the light of the Gospel to a dark island.

littlelonghairedoutlaw replied to your post “littlelonghairedoutlaw replied to your post “What do you think of…”

Yeah I’m fairly sure all our spiders are ok venom-wise, but has never been enough to stop us being afraid of them. They’re big to us, but really they’re tiny compared to tarantulas and other varieties. We’ve no native snakes either, though slow-worms managed to get introduced to the Burren in Clare back in the ‘70s. The myth goes that St Patrick drove all the snakes out

I read something about the scientific reason for no snakes in Ireland the other day and I thiiiink it was… a global cooling period that wiped out a lot of snakes? and they haven’t managed to repopulate Ireland because it’s an island? I don’t remember completely but something like that

the signs on St. Patrick’s day

Aries: drinking buckets of green beer
Taurus: shitposting leprechaun jokes
Gemini: forgetting to wear green and drawing on themselves with a green sharpie 
Cancer: wearing head to toe green and shitting gold coins
Leo: challenging everyone to green jello shot eating contests 
Virgo: picking four leaf clovers and frolicking
Libra: preparing for the secret druid ritual which for some reason involves a bottle of Jameson 
Scorpio: the douche with the “KISS ME I’M IRISH” shirt and matching “GET LUCKY” briefs
Sagittarius: stuffed with corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes 
Capricorn: loudly singing Irish drinking songs much to everyone’s chagrin
Aquarius: “it’s not St. Patty’s it’s St. Paddy’s–”
Pisces: actually driving the snakes out of Ireland 

saint patrick is a guy who, uh [looks at a picture of st. patrick] glowed and wanted to pinch everyone. he pinched the snakes out of ireland

Just To Note Kids

The legends that we have about St. Patrick are of two flavors: The mythological, which perpetuates the idea that Patrick “drove the snakes out of Ireland” as well as violent encounters with the “druids” of the time; and the probably more historical accounts of his time as a slave and the process by which he then bought his own freedom, was ordained as a bishop and went back to Ireland with the intention of preaching his faith to them.

It is arguable that these myths propagating St. Patrick and his “violent” conversion of Ireland were born of a monastery desperate for some type of propaganda to help convert the remaining pagans in the country. 

In other words, the legends were coined after Patrick’s death. 

It is generally historically agreed upon that the Christian conversion of Ireland was somewhat more peaceful than in other countries. Patrick had lived in Ireland for some six years. He was familiar with the culture and the religion, which allowed him to preach his own faith within constructs the people feasibly understood already. Even so, many simply adopted Christianity to their existing faiths, which is how the particular brands of “Celtic” Christianity came to exist.

St. Patrick’s Day in modern times is more of a cultural (if albeit somewhat stereotypical and a little rude celebration in the States) of Irish Heritage and culture. 

The issues that you take with the fact that it is originally a day celebrating a Catholic saint shows the abounding issues that you still have to work through and I’ll thank you not to stomp on my heritage because it makes you feel special to go against the flow.