The Influence of St Patrick is Massive

There will be massive celebrations tomorrow on St Patrick’s Day throughout the world.

St Patrick’s day is the second most celebrated festival after Christmas in the whole world!

Why is this? Although a small Island with a population of around 5 million today, Ireland has had a big influence in the world down through the ages. Descendants from Ireland have settled all around the world.
Ireland is positioned strategicly on the edge of Europe. There was easy access to the Americas, Britain and Europe by boat in the past. Nowadays Asia and Australia as well can be accessed by air out of Dublin. Two of my own children live in Canada, two in Scotland and one in England.

During the famine of the nineteen hundreds, millions left Ireland by boat for Northern America. In former days some Irish got free passage to the West Indies as slaves when Cromwell invaded Ireland. Again people were sent to Australia as punishment or got cheap passage in order to populate the new continent.

Priests and nuns went as missionaries to Africa and India. The Irish monks saved writings from Europe that could have been destroyed in the unrest in Europe. In 2007 when recession hit, many young men left Ireland searching for work in Canada, the Middle East, and Australia. Then in the 1970s many left Ireland because of the war and religious discrimination in Northern Ireland to settle abroad, whether in England, Australia or America. Many such people have longings to return to Ireland where some of their family may still live or want to see where their ancestors came from.

Ireland is known as a land of saints and scholars. Ancient Christian writings are stored in Libraries. Ancient ruins of cathedrals and Celtic crosses dot the country, leaving a memory of former Christian communities that prospered. We have had famous Irish singers and poets, dancers and musicians in recent times, keeping the Irish spirit alive. The band U2, the poet, Seamus Heaney, Bob Geldof, Sinead O Cannor to mention just a few.

I am writing from Ireland. Brendan and I wanted to leave Ireland in the late eighties. It was oppressive raising our children in an atmosphere of religious war. We wanted to move to Wales. We prayed and thought about it a lot. God directed us to stay. He cares for us. We were vulnerable as a young family and it was best to stay in Ireland rather that move some where we had to start to get to know people. I’m very glad we stayed.

For many reasons people want to celebrate St Patrick’s day. But let me tell you something about St Patrick. He was not Irish, he came as a missionary to preach the gospel to the people then living in Ireland in the fifth century. The same gospel is available to us today through the scriptures. The good news that Jesus died to forgive sins, heal diseases, set us free from captivity, and restore our lives from oppression and slavery and to give us eternal life in heaven. He had dreams and left writings that we can read and find out more about his life.

For fifteen centuries we have that Christian legacy in Ireland. I am a descendant of those people St Patrick first taught about Jesus. Exodus 20 says “those who love God, their children will be blessed to the thousandth generation.” I am one of those blessed, many generations later.

I want to remember our heritage and I pray that Ireland will again be a place where people are free from oppression and slavery, and our people will not submit to laws that will destroy marriage and our children. Ireland has been a good place for Brendan and I to raise our fourteen children. It one of the few countries in the world where abortion is not legal.

Come let us return to the Lord. God is alive and wants to help us in this twenty first century. So when you are celebrating St Patrick’s day remember who he represents. St Patrick is buried in a grave, history tells us in Downpatrick, near where I live. He represents Jesus whose grave is empty. Jesus is alive and lives to help us in our distress. It is good to follow him. Call upon him this St Patrick’s day. .

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LEAVING HOME

My eldest daughter Shann went to Liverpool university to train as a nurse in September of 1989. It was natural to chose a career in a caring  capacity, because she had plenty of experience helping me to care for her nine siblings.
Before we left her to the airport we had a farewell meal for her.  This was the beginning of a tradition that we have had for each child leaving home.  It was difficult for us as parents to say farewell.  Would she return to Ireland to live after she finished?  Many Irish children have gone to England in the past to study or get work and settled there.
Down through the years many young men and women have left these shores because of famine, forced exile, to find work or to avoid the troubles. The Irish are to be found all over the world.  When young people last century went to America the family would have a meal and get together with friends.  They called it a wake because the family would not see them again.  It must have been heartbreaking for parents to say farewell without the hope of seeing their son her daughter again.  The sadness is often found in the songs and music of Ireland.
Brendan remembers seeing men having to register for work twice a day in his home town.  If they did not find work they had to go to England.  His two uncles went to England and never returned.
Ireland is known as the Land of Saints and Scholars.  Down though the centuries young men and women left Ireland voluntarily to bring the Gospel  to the nations.  We have a wonderful Christian heritage despite the internal wars.  Brendan and some of our children work in the nations.
We left Shann to the airport and said our final farewells.  Brendan was sad to see his little girl wave goodbye. We were all in tears.  The children would miss their big sister.
Many years later, Shann told me she was crying on the plane.  She had mixed emotions; sad to be leaving home but glad to get away as well.  This was Brendan and myself’s first experience of letting our child fly the nest. Parents rear their children but have to let them go as well.  We had plenty of work to do back home to take our mind off our sadness.