I have no doubt my namesake is St. Patrick. The clues for this are really not particularly subtle. I was born into an Irish Catholic family that paid close attention to the Church’s injunction that offspring should always be named after a Saint. The names of my siblings also followed this injunction: Kathleen (that is spelled with a ”K” and not a ”C”, thank you) Brian, Phillip, Terence, and Mary.
Several myths abound about St. Patrick most of which are sorely lacking in evidence that they are real. Here is a link to a Baltimore Magazine article by Ron Cassie from March of 2017 debunks much of the folklore surrounding Patrick: https://www.baltimoremagazine.com/2017/3/16/st-patrick-the-real-story-tops-the-myth
A couple of the more interesting tidbits from the Baltimore Magazine piece were that he was not even Irish and his real name was Maewyn Succat. He was most likely born in Wales or Scotland. After capture by pirates in Northern England, he was sold into slavery in Ireland. He was able to escape after six years. In later years supposedly after a spiritual vision, he returned to Ireland as a missionary. Oh and the snakes were actually taken care of in Ireland by the last ice age and never returned, Maewyn had nothing to do with it. Interestingly Patrick was very much an anti-slavery activist and quite the feminist for his time. He died on March 17th in the year 461 and shortly after slavery was abandoned in Ireland to never return. Unfortunately for some Irish Americans in the 1800s, this aversion to slavery did not hold.
The name Patrick seems like a logical choice in a family that seemed to relish in its Irish Catholic roots and it is probably best that I was not named Maewyn, being a little gay kid in Northern Indiana was trouble enough. My mother’s maiden name was Kelly, no problems there. My father’s surname however was Gourley. That implied that heaven forbid, there might be some Scottish ancestry. Actually, the issue was most likely not the Scottish part but rather that this implied Protestantism. It was felt that this contamination was sufficiently watered down, as not to be a major issue and all grandparents on both sides were quite Catholic. Also, my dad’s mother, my paternal grandmother, was supposedly a big supporter of the resistance and was rumored to have sent money to the IRA. She would have been elated to see the recent significant Sinn Fein showing in the Irish elections.
On a few occasions, I spent the night at one of my aunt’s homes and would spend the night sleeping in my grandmother’s bed. The only real memory of this other than it occurred was the smell of Vicks VapoRub. Not only would she rub some on her chest but take an emery board and scoop a bit onto the end and then put it way back on her tongue before going to sleep. Talk about indelible childhood memories.
A year or so ago in an attempt to look more closely at my roots I sent some DNA off to Ancestry. Initially, it certainly confirmed my predominately Irish roots but a bit of Scottish blood could not be ruled out or confirmed. Further analysis which they sent to me, I am sure as a come-on to buy more data, indicated that my family apparently on both paternal and maternal sides came from an area in central Ireland specifically Roscommon county. The little bit of Scottish ancestry cannot definitively be ruled out at this point and I am quite OK with that. After all, I consider many Scottish men to be very sexy and who can argue with a kilt.
I was planning to end with a bit of Irish humor but the number of Irish jokes online is overwhelming. But I did stumble on the following campaign phone call on Facebook:
Hi … I am Scott from Mike Bloomberg’s campaign. With so much at stake Americans deserve a candidate who can beat Donald Trump. Will you support Mike?
I’d rather go to China and lick doorknobs.