Most don't know much about St. Patrick

March 4, 2012 at 6:21 PM
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ROCHESTER, N.Y., March 4 (UPI) -- St. Patrick's Day is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the United States, but a survey indicated few know why March 17 is celebrated.

A Harris Poll, commissioned by Irish whiskey maker Tullamore Dew, found 51 percent didn't know that St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.

The poll of 2,143 U.S. adults, conducted by Harris Interactive in January, indicated:

-- 25 percent said they knew St. Patrick was not born in Ireland but in the part of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire.

-- 34 percent said they believe the holiday marks the saint's birthday. It is the day of his death.

-- 25 percent falsely believe St. Patrick chased all the snakes out of Ireland. All evidence suggests post-glacial Ireland never had snakes.

-- 18 percent of respondents said they believe celebrating St. Patrick's Day represents the true spirit of Ireland.

When St. Patrick was16, he was captured in Wales by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping. After entering the church, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop in the north and west of the island, but little is known about where he worked. By the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

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