St. Patrick’s day is one of the most celebrated saint’s days in many countries across the world. The celebration has become more than just a day to celebrate St. Patrick’s life and now is a celebration of Ireland, Irish Heritage, folklore and all things green. And while we enjoy sharing stories of Finn, learning about Ireland and eating yummy green mashed potatoes, I also want to share the story of the man St. Patrick with my children. If for no other reason, it is a wonderful story.
Much of St. Patrick’s life is a mystery and there is certainly more speculation than fact surrounding most historical details. From the two letters that exist in St. Patrick’s own hand we know that he was taken from Britain when he was sixteen by Irish raiders. He then lived in Ireland for six years as a slave, shepherding and herding pigs, before escaping and returning to his family. After his return to Britain, he entered the church and later returned to Ireland as a bishop, after seeing visions of Irish children calling “O holy youth, come back to Erin, and walk once more amongst us.”
Kidnapping by boat, shepherding sheep, herding pigs, and escaping to home only to return to the land where one was a slave all make for an exciting story, certainly the kind that fascinates the four-year-old in my house. But if you let the imagination wonder and bring in some of the legend, the story becomes truly magical. Saint Patrick is said to have banished the snakes from Ireland, taught about the trinity of the Christian God with a three leaf clover, placed his staff in the ground to find that it sprouted roots, and met two members of Finn Mac Cumhail’s warrior band who travel with Patrick telling their stories.
To learn more on the story of St. Patrick, his letters can be found here, with more on his life here. There are lots of books to find at your local library on Saint Patrick (as well as Finn Mac Cumhail/McCool, Celtic legends and Irish tales.) You can pick and choose which bits to share, but the story is definitely a fun one to tell.
An enjoyable way to engage with this story is with a story bag. Figures and pieces are placed in a small pouch to be drawn out while you tell the story. You can read directly from a book if you wish, while someone else moves the figures, but it is best told in your own words.
Making a St. Patrick’s Story Bag
Small pouch (green is rather appropriate)
Figure of St. Patrick
You may also wish to include some or all of the following:
Sheep and/or pigs
Wooden staff (twig)
Three leaf clover (I use a felt one)
Small boat (I use a cloth one, but a paper one could work well, or just an ellipse cut out of brown felt)
Two figures for raiders
Two figures for members of Finn McCool’s band
Green fabric square for underlay
Blue strip of fabric for the sea between the two Islands
The story bag will help you tell the story over and over. And little hands and a little voice may end up telling the story too – in their own sweet way.
Emily lives in St. Andrews, Scotland where she shares lots of stories with her husband and two wee boys. Emily keeps a blog, Watkins Every Flavor Beans, where she reflects on celebrating the seasonal and church year, as well as the extra ordinary of family life and crafty pursuits.