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Four facts for St. Patrick’s Day

It’s St. Patrick’s Day today which has become something of a global phenomenon where “everyone is Irish” and synonymous with imbibing “too much sherbet”, so to speak.

However, the day is about so much more than Guinness, Leprechauns and green garments, so here are some facts to help you get through the day.

St. Patrick, image By Sicarr – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

About the man

Saint Patrick was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the “Apostle of Ireland”, the exact dates of his life are unknown, but it is widely accepted that he died on March 17th and that by the seventh century A.D he was revered as a saint.

About the day

St. Patrick’s Day is more formerly known as “The Feast of Saint Patrick” and was made an official Christian feast in the 17th Century by the Catholic Church.

The lenten eating and drinking restrictions are lifted for the day in Ireland, which has given way to the associations of the day with getting a little merry…

The Shamrock

This small sprig of clover (three-leafed) has been associated with St. Patrick since his life, as it is said he used it as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity, and has become a symbol for Ireland in general.

The word itself is derived from the Irish word seamrog, which means “little clover”.

In SRUC Horticulture terms, the species of plant is Trifolium dubium. Although other variations of the Shamrock have included Trifolium repens (white clover) and Trifolium pratense (red clover), the Trifolium dubium is the de-facto Shamrock plant.


A field of clovers, in particular the Trifolium repens


The four-leaf clover

The incredibly rare four-leaf clover, usually found in a ratio of 1:10,000 3-leaf clovers, is the Trifolium repens, and is considered lucky through years of cultural traditions.

Usually, each leaf represents something; the first leaf represents hope, the second stands for faith, the third is for love and the fourth leaf brings luck to the finder.

Despite their rarity, some collectors have in excess of 160,000 four-leaf clovers in their collections. That’s a lot of hunting!

Stay safe

As always we want to ensure our students and colleagues are safe, so if you plan on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day we warmly encourage you all to have a great time today with moderation!

  • Make sure people know where you are
  • Don’t risk driving if you plan to consume alcohol
  • Know your limits


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