St Patrick’s Day

17 March has a particular resonance in this island. For whatever reason, our national feast day has an impact and a sense of celebration that is unique and special.
At the heart of this celebration is the story of a young man who came to these shores initially as a refugee and slave, in fear and trembling, but who came to understand our people and who, in the freedom of love, wanted to offer them his life and the gift of faith that was the light of his life. It is a simple story of offering to others what is important and dear to oneself.
On St. Patrick’s Day, that life will be remembered all over the world. In the jungles of northern Thailand, people will gather at the grave of an Irishwoman who went there in a similar fashion, to share what was precious and to live among people in love. Nigeria chose Patrick as one of their patron saints to celebrate and remember the Irish missionaries who worked there. New York, Boston, Sidney, and many other cities will come to a stand-still in celebrations for this feast day. A broad horizon of celebration!
A broad horizon – that might be the key to understanding this day in a changing Ireland. We have people who have come here from all over the world, with hope for a life that will be happy and prosper. What unites us all now? Old narrow nationalisms, unfortunately too common in many countries across Europe, would curtly close the door on the hope that is offered by fresh citizens who choose this place. Yet this is the very wellspring of hope and the heart of what we celebrate today.
Walking in Dublin, one cannot but be conscious of the sounds of different languages, the cultures that offer something new and the excitement and cheer of the gathering of nations in this once Viking station on the Liffey. It is an icon of the new hope in our country. What makes it specific and unique? From the quays, from the heart of that old station, you can always see the horizon, with the beauty of the setting sun. That horizon, the possibilities of that dream is what makes it specific and unique. The foundation stone of this day was someone who set out into that horizon with faith, with a real sense of offering in love what will last – Look to the horizon! Set out in hope! Simply offer to others what is dear to yourself!
H a p p y S a i n t P a t r i c k ’ s D a y !