In most calendars the biggest national holiday is the day on which a country gained its independence. Not in Ireland!
Ireland’s most significant national celebration is Saint Patrick’s Day, marking the death of its patron saint and celebrating the arrival of Christianity. Around the world it's now one of the most festive days of the year, while nobody knows the date of Irish freedom!
Origins of Saint Patrick’s Day
In 1762 the first recorded Patrick’s Day Parade was held in New York as Irish soldiers – who formed part of the British army but keen to remember their roots - marched to Irish music. Since 1903, March 17 has been a public holiday in Ireland but it wasn’t until 1931 that the first parade came to Dublin. Now the religious holiday is Ireland’s biggest national celebration.
But why does Ireland commemorate the death of a Welshman over celebrating Ireland’s Day of Independence?
July 4, 1776, marks the day that the United States obtained freedom from Great Britain, while the groundwork for Ireland to becoming an independent country began on a “Moveable Monday”. The Proclamation of the Irish Republic was declared on Easter Monday - April 24, 1916 - which was the first day in a six-day armed rebellion with the aim of ending British rule in Ireland.
Commemorating the date isn’t easy as Easter Monday falls on a different day every year and can either be in March or April.
Independence Day versus St Patrick’s Day!
Where are the street parades with the sound of Independence songs to remember the beginning of the Irish Republic? There aren't any. Instead there’s silence. Easter in Ireland is a somber affair, the only celebration being the resurrection of Jesus in churches throughout the island with no mention of Easter Monday being the day that brought Irish freedom.
Ireland has been fought over for centuries but when it comes to celebrating Irish statehood, it’s a trivial affair compared to celebrating the feast of a Welsh saint who rid Ireland of snakes.
Should Irish people the world over readjust their thinking? Should Saint Patrick’s Day be demoted behind either April 24 or Easter Monday as the country’s most popular celebration? Shouldn’t we set in stone our Freedom Day?