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St Patrick

50 51 snakes and shamrocks green salad and serpents We are told there are no snakes in Ireland because Patrick banished them, a tale first recorded by the Norman Giraldus Cambrensis in his history of Ireland. Of all kinds of reptiles only those that are not harmful are found in Ireland. It has no poisonous reptiles, serpents, toads, frogs, tortoises or scorpions, and no dragons, though it has spiders, leeches and lizards, but these are all harmless. Some indulge in the pleasant conjecture that Saint Patrick and other saints purged the island of harmful animals, but it is more probable that from the earliest times, and long before the founding of the Faith, the island was naturally without these things. But there were many terrifying serpents. One at Teltown ate cattle, another lived in Lough Derg, Corra was the devils mother, and a druid became one to avoid Patrick, who condemned him to stay like that until Judgement Day, brooding deep in Manann pond. Tradition says Patrick explained the Trinity to the Irish with a shamrock, the trefoil wood sorrel, which grew wild and nourished the needy. In earlier times the Irish ate them fresh or baked with meal and butter into shamrock bread. Patrick is first depicted holding one on coins of the 1640s and by 1680 the Irish did superstitiously wear shamrogues on his day. Finally, in 1727 it was recorded for the first time that by this threeleaved grass he emblematically set forth the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
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