Clann Chaomhánach
Articles and family related news Family related questions and mysteriesFeatured family membersEvent listingsFamily around the worldNew!!  - Purchase Clann merchandise...

The True Origin of St. Patrick's Day


Some people think St. Patrick's Day is just another excuse to drink and sing and wear green and see parades and go to an Irish pub and drive home a bit drunk, terrified that the police may stop you. While that's all well and good, there is a true and deeper meaning to the holiday which falls on March 17th, and I'm here to explain.

It is commonly known that St. Patrick was not actually from Ireland. He was an Irish French Canadian hurling player turned hockey player named Jacques Cavaneaux, who played for the Montreal Galls in the 11th century. Cavaneaux was so good at hockey, it was common for him to score at least three goals in every game. Soon he became known as the “Prince of the Hattrick”, which was eventually shortened to "Patrick".

Now back in Ireland the Irish made a career of giving the Vikings in Dublin a bad time, so after Brian Boru won the Battle of Clontarf, the Vikings grabbed Cavaneaux and a bunch of his cousins and friends and hauled their butts to Canada to use as slaves. They weren’t very good workers, but they could make a great golden beer out of the local brown kelp seaweed and were fanatics at hurling, a game in which the survivors were the winners. Canada had a lot of winter and a lot of frozen lakes, so the Irish invented hockey so they could play hurling all year round.

Hurling was too rough for the prissy French, but in 1065, France challenged Canada to a hockey game (which explains why some Canadians speak French - there were a lot of trades in the league). The hockey game was to be held in January of 1066 on some pond outside of Paris. It would take Canada that long to get there. So Canada's best and brightest were corralled, and Patrick was named captain of the hockey team and captain of the ship that was taking them…A man had to wear many a hat in those days.

The Canadian all star hockey team consisted of, Cavaneaux, Cavagnaic, Kavanette, Cavenairre, Kavenau, Cavanous and Nolan, who set out for France in the summer of 1055. They had to row the whole way, because sails made from moose hides were so heavy they kept turning the boats over. The team had to bring many many supplies, since they'd be away from land so long.  Here's what they brought:

Hockey equipment - just skates and sticks and a puck or two - they didn't have pads back then, the goalie often stopped the puck with his teeth

  • 1 ton of Canadian bacon
  • 1000 barrels of Molson Golden beer
  • The Team Mascot: Monty Moose
  • 100 gallons of Black Velvet whiskey
  • The band You Too - they needed someone to rip on and play Dungeons & Dragons with, and uh, oh yeah, for musical entertainment

After a few weeks the ship hit a storm. Huge swells, rocked the ship this way and that. The men aboard tried to keep balance, but many fell and nearly rolled overboard. There were ten barrels of beer on deck that the men were drinking from at the time of the storm, which were sliding from port to starboard, dangerously close to toppling overboard. Patrick took notice to the impending disaster, and as the ship hit a gigantic swell Patrick knew he had to act fast. He leapt on the barrels but could not save them from going overboard. Something had to be done. Someone had to go overboard to recover the brew.

The crew congregated and voted almost unanimously to send Nolan overboard to recover the barrels. The You Too band members were also thrown overboard in the violent storm and told not to come back aboard until they recovered all ten barrels of Molson Golden beer.

It was a difficult task, especially for a prog rock band, but they managed to recover nine of the barrels. The storm lifted and the waters calmed. "Time to drink again!" shouted Patrick.

The journey was nearing the end as the 1065 Canadian All Star hockey team rowed to France with St. Patrick at the helm, but as luck would have it they hit another, more violent storm off the coast of Ireland. It was a perfect storm. Unfortunately, Capt. Ahab wasn't there to give a grand old speech filled with hope, and everything went overboard, as the ship sank. All the Canadian bacon, the beer, the whiskey, Monty Moose, Rush and the 1065 Canadian All Star Hocky Team, were gone. All that was left was a bag of hockey sticks and a barrel of beer, with Jacques "Patrick" Cavanaeaux floating on them.

For weeks Patrick floated in the cold Atlantic waters, surviving on the beer in his barrel. Day after day he paddled, doglike, eastward. He knew he couldn't have been far off shore. Finally he managed to fashion a raft from the barrel and hockey sticks and a sail from the canvas bag they were in. Patrick was becoming desperate. The beer was running out and he was so drunk most of the time he forgot which way was east.

Finally, he spotted land. It was a very green island. You could almost say it was an emerald isle. In fact, you could go all the way and say: It was Ireland. Patrick swam shoreward, and, clothes ragged, face scruffy and sunburnt, he reached land, kissed the ground, and passed the hell out.

Father O'Toole who was drunk as a rule and a chap called McQuirk who was scared stiff of work were staggering along the beach the day Patrick, Prince of the Hattrick, arrived. He was still out like a light when they found him, his makeshift raft lying next to him. They stared for a minute or so. Father O'Toole who was drunk as a rule spoke first:

"Ah, 'tis a pity. Some poor lad decoided ta play swim with the ale again. Tell me, McQuirk, have ye spake ta any mothers missin' sons this morn?"

"I've not, O'Toole," answered the chap called McQuirk who was scared stiff of work. "A foine wake it shall be, though. All the foiner if th' mother's a rich one."

"You'll drink from charity wake or no, you workless beggar!"

All the shouting made Patrick stir. "By God he's alive! There'll be no wake tonight!" said the chap called McQuirk who was scared stiff of work.

Patrick mumbled something in French. "This man's no Irishman! He's a foreigner!" exclaimed Father O'Toole who was drunk as a rule.

"I'm Canadian," said Patrick. "I also speak English and French. Please, do you have something to eat?"

Ever lazy, the chap called McGurk who was scared stiff of work saw this as a golden opportunity. "Well now, we're on our way to a job we are. The king's courtyard is infested with snakes, and if ye do the job fer us, ye'll have supper tonight."

Reconstruction -
may not be historically accurate

So the two Irish drunks took Patrick and his hockey sticks to King Brian Boru's castle to drive out the snakes. Brian Boru was then dead, having been killed at Clontarf when Cavaneaux was captured and taken to Canada, but Brian’s son Donough was then the king. Patrick never did any yard work before, so he wasn't quite sure how to go about it. The two Irish drunks left poor Patrick outside, and went into the castle to drink with the queen before the mister came home from his job fighting Vikings. Patrick scratched his head. Then a snake bit his ankle. So he did the only thing he knew how: he slapped that slimy belly crawler with his hockey stick, which sent the serpent flying 100 yards into the ocean. He did this with all the other snakes until there were no more. The queen was so impressed she gave him a hearty supper and sent word out to the mister to pick up some potatoes after he killed a few Vikings so she could spend a little quality time with this interesting foreigner.

Soon Patrick was hired all over Ireland to slap shoot snakes into the ocean. As the snake population faded, Patrick's celebrity grew. And more and more nights King Donough MacBrian got word to pick up this or that for dinner before he came home from killing Vikings to his scheming missus. People began to talk, as they will in Ireland.

Now King Donough got wise and decided to come home early one night, and sure enough, he caught his spouse doing an Irish Setter style jig with Patrick. A fight ensued. It turned into a huge brawl that ended at the top of the highest mountain in Ireland with everyone in the country looking on. King Donough was going to throw Patrick off the mountain when a mysterious priest stepped in.

"Stop your highness!" shouted the priest with a voice like thunder. "Patrick is a good man, and should get a chance to redeem himself." The people of Ireland, looking on, shouted "No! Kill him now!" They didn't like nasty foreigners moving in on their queens.

"I speak for the church!" yelled the mysterious priest. "And I say give him a chance."

"He better perform a miracle after what he did!" yelled the king. "Okay father, since you speak for the church, I'll give him three weeks to redeem himself."

“Tis good ye do,” said the mysterious priest, “because there are greater problems afoot. An ill-born Viking from Normandy, who is of such ill fame, they call him William The Bastard, has invaded our neighbor England. I believe he got his bad name as a used boat salesman. But a real weird one he must be, for now since he has taken England, they call him William The Con Queer.

“Well,” says King Donough, “if he comes to Ireland he will get the same treatment as this Irish French Canadian snake killer."

Well, Patrick pondered and pondered, and walked all over the country, up and down wondering what to do to keep his head and body joined together. He found some seaweed and brewed some beer, but the seaweed in Ireland was green and the beer came out a clear emerald green instead of the golden brew of Canada. It tasted fine though. On the final day, March 17th, Patrick, Prince of the Hattrick, was still at a loss. He was to meet his fate at the top of the very same mountain.

Once again, all the people in the country gathered, as people do, waiting to see some blood. They came in their national colors, all wearing greenbecause any time a foreigner is executed it's an automatic national holiday.

Patrick said, "I'm sorry, but I'm just a man. I'm afraid I can't perform any miracles."

"Then you die!" yelled the king, holding up a great sword.

As King Donough raised his weapon, Patrick got a flash of inspiration. "Wait! A man should have a final drink before he takes the trip to Tir na nOg!" he screamed. "I have made a good brew on the coast ready to drink if ye will all follow me."

Now such an invitation is hard for an Irishman to resist, so everyone in the entire country went to the seaside. Patrick took King Donough’s drinking horn and poured an imperial pint of glowing, green beer and held it up.

"Look!" exclaimed Father O'Toole who was drunk as a rule. "It's beer in Ireland's own native colour! This man is a SAINT!" The people cheered and lifted Patrick over their heads, and from that day on he was known forever as Ireland's Greatest National Hero, and that day, March 17th, is forever celebrated as St. Patrick's Day. He was made a bishop immediately afterward in a small informal ceremony, a celibacy vow was demanded to insure he wouldn't get a hankerin' to put his French Canadian poisoned bloodline into the pure Irish gene pool, and even King Donough could not deny this man's greatness.


And that, my friends, is the ABSOLUTE TRUTH about St. Patrick: the Irish French Canadian hockey player who returned to Ireland and invented green beer in the 10th century.


Brian Gallagher of Pittsburgh, PA, is to blame for the basic story.  James F. Cavanaugh of Belize Central America added his bit, edited that bit, embellished another bit, and adjusted the facts to ensure absolute historical accuracy.

St. Patrick's Day T-Shirts...