ST. PATRICK'S DAY EYE CUES STARTLE THOSE WHO THINK THEY HAVE THE HOLIDAY DOWN PAT


March 17 is celebrated as Saint Patrick's Day. But it wasn't the day he was born. Historians scribbled that he died on March 17 but record-keeping was dicey in those days.


It could be 360, 385, 387 or 390, depending on who you ask. His day of departure from this orb is not nailed down. One year would make him live to the ripe old vintage of 132. Writing was a free-lance proposition. "News" was gathered by "gossip." Editors told would-be reporters to "go sip" in saloons where men were congregated and jot down what they overheard. So the first news was gossip from taverns. How much has changed in modern times?
His given name was Maewyn Succat; taking the saint's name of Patrick when he joined the priesthood. St. Patrick was never canonized by a pope. According to historians, he's on the "list of Saints" with Basil the Fool for Christ and more than 10,000 others you never heard of.
Once, when he felt cheated by a barkeep who shorted him on a shot of whiskey, he warned the innkeeper that as long as he cheated customers he would have a devil in his basement.
Associated with the three-leaf clover, purists believe St. Patrick plucked the shamrock and used it to symbolize the Holy Trinity in his preaching.
By the way, the patron saint of Ireland actually was born in Roman Brittania and didn't visit Ireland until he was 16. That was when he was kidnapped by Irish slave traders. He toiled for six years before loosening his bonds and made his way back home.No mention of St. Patrick driving the snakes from Eire but tavern gossipers no doubt got the shivers contemplating slitherers.