A Brief History of St Patrick's Day

Posted on: 16 March 2022 by Clare Downham in 2022 posts

A brief history of St Patrick's Day

St Patrick’s Day (17th March) is a global celebration and also a big event in the social calendar of the city of Liverpool with three quarters of the city’s population claiming Irish ancestry. The event is popularly associated with wearing green and drinking Guinness, but what would the real St Patrick have thought of all this?

In this 16 minute lecture, Prof. Clare Downham of the Institute of Irish Studies gives a brief history of the event, looking at its origins in Ireland, and its development in America (using case studies of Boston and New York). It concludes by drawing out the symbolic significance of St Patrick’s day, showing that there is rather more to it than drinking Guinness and wearing green. The story of St Patrick’s day is a prism for viewing the broader history of Ireland and its relationship with the wider world.


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Study in the Department of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool