It’s a common misconception that St. Patrick drove all snakes from Ireland. In fact, it would have been impossible for the iconic cleric to banish snakes from Ireland since there are no species of snakes native to the Emerald Isle. Due to its unfavorable climate and isolation from other lands, snakes simply could not live or migrate there. It is believed that snakes were representative of the pagan Celtic religion, which St. Patrick “banished” when he brought Christianity to Ireland in the 5th Century.
Legends surrounding St. Patrick became so prevalent that he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland by the 7th Century. Today, his feast day, known as St. Patrick’s Day, is celebrated annually on March 17 in Ireland and by people of Irish ancestry around the world. Though it is a national holiday and a day of religious observance in Ireland, for millions world-wide, St. Patrick’s Day has become a festive commemoration of Irish heritage and culture.