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Who Was St. Patrick Anyway?

BU profs (and Bostonians) on Ireland’s patron saint


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On this side of the pond, there’s undoubtedly a “traditional” way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day—the rites typically involve a parade, green clothing, and copious amounts of ale-induced merrymaking. The Guinness corporation is even leading a charge to make it a national holiday in the United States, as it is in Ireland.

As the city of Boston—host of the nation’s first St. Patrick’s Day Parade, in 1737—decks itself in green for another year’s celebration, BU Today hit the streets to find out just how much people know about Ireland’s patron saint. Sally Sommers Smith, a College of General Studies associate professor of natural sciences, and Anthony Barrand, a College of Arts & Sciences anthropology professor emeritus, also shed some light on St. Patrick, from his arrival in Ireland as a slave to his status as a celebrated missionary who converted the Emerald Isle to Christianity.

This story originally ran March 17, 2008.

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