So Saint Patrick was not always a red-bearded man in a bright green top hat who drank loads and loads of green beer in March, despite what much of the world(or maybe it’s just America?) may think. The real Saint Patrick was a Christian missionary sent to Ireland in the 5th century A.D. and as rumor has it, he drove all of the snakes off of the island of Ireland. But is Saint Patrick the real reason there are no snakes on the Emerald Isle?
Today you can visit Ireland without ever running into a snake, but is Saint Patrick really the reason? Legend states that during St. Paddy stood on a hill and herded all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea. Why? Well they attacked him during is 40 day fast, and apparently Saint Paddy was a little ‘hangry’ because he probably would have caused the extinction of a few endemic species if he had banished all serpents to the sea.
So we know that there are no snakes on Ireland now, so what made them disappear? Or were they ever even there?
Science suggests that, no, there were never any snakes in Ireland, well before and well after the rain of the snake-hating Saint Patrick. In all likelihood this is because the most recent ice age only ended about 10,000 years ago so Ireland was much to cold for exothermic creatures like snakes.
So there you have it! Saint Paddy may not have rid Ireland of serpents, but he certainly gave us a fun day to celebrate! Enjoy your Saint Patrick’s Day and stay safe!