Where Would St.Pat Be Tomorrow?
Many people will tomorow turn their attention momentarily from their dangerously excessive booze consumption to attend one of the many sports events which traditionally take place on what is reverentially known as Paddy's Day. The All-Ireland club hurling and football finals, Schools Rugby Cup finals in Ulster, Munster and Leinster, Eircom League fixtures and of course the Gold Cup day at the Cheltenham festival.
But what about the man himself? If Patrick were alive today, where would he be found tomorrow?
As a Welshman the answer would seem obvious: surely he would be taking in the action at one of the schools Rugby finals at Lansdowne Road, Thomond Park or Ravenhill (the latter being convenient to his bishopric in Armagh), followed by a short hop over to London to take up the kind offer from the Archbishop of Canterbury of a premium ticket at Twickenham on Saturday?
I'm not so sure. He wouldn't go to Ravenhill anyway - the Ulster rugby crowd have always thought Patrick a bit too 'green' for their tastes. For all that he rose to be Bishop of Ireland and no doubt was a pretty heavy hitter in 5th century Ireland, in his Confessions he described himself as a "simple countryman" who lived amongst "barbarous tribes" - therefore he would perhaps not have been comfortable quaffing with the well-heeled old boys of Blackrock and St.Michaels in Ballsbridge for the Leinster Schools Final. If "barbarous tribes" are your thing, then Thomond Park for the Munster Final between St.Munchins and Presentation Brothers College would seem the logical destination, if he didn't mind the long trip down from Ulster, that is.
Then again he did spend those years in slavery, herding sheep on Sliabh Mis in County Antrim. Apparently he befriended the locals, learned the language and became well regarded in the area - surely then he would be cheering on St. Gall's of Belfast in Croke Park as they attempt to defeat Salthill in the All-Ireland club football final. Perhaps - but consider that he was mired in the glens of Antrim during those long years of slavery, so would probably have been more of a hurling man than a regular around the football clubs of the Falls Road.
You don't get to be Bishop of Ireland without being a sanctimonious sort, and it is likely that Patrick would have taken a dim view of the orgy of gambling brought on amongst his parishioners by the Cheltenham Festival. But I'm sure that even Pat, pious as he was, would have had a sneaky fiver on the chance that this could finally be Beef or Salmon's year....that is until an Angel visited him in his sleep and told him to put the house on Ruby Walsh on Hedgehunter at a generous 14/1...