“He was a farmer’s son and the folklore is that using Catholicism and religion, he somehow drove all the snakes out of Ireland and into the sea.”


Collin learned this piece of folklore from his grandparents, who lived in California. He was about ten years old and thought snakes were cool. He feels that this folklore offers a mythical perspective of someone who influenced history.

In the 5th century, St. Patrick’s mission in Ireland was to convert the Pagan islanders to Christianity. The question is, why is St. Patrick associated with snakes? A snake or otherwise known as a serpent symbolizes evil in Christian mythology. For example, Eve was tricked by the devil disguised as a snake. It was the serpent in the Garden of Eden that convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Satan is often depicted as snake. Thus, the idea of banishing snakes could have been a metaphor for riding the island of evil. Furthermore, the idea of snakes as malevolent creatures has continued to be engrained in out culture. This can be seen in recent movies like Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets. This popular novel and movie depicts the snakes as the ultimate enemy, The Basilisk. Thus, it propagates from generation to generation.

Although St. Patrick was said to rid the Island of snakes, scientists have recently found an explanation for his great feat—they were never there to begin with. The most recent ice age was about 10,000 years ago, which would have made the island uninhabitable for animals. After the ice melted the environment was not conducive for snakes