Thursday, 30th March 2017
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Waterford Business Group

Made of Waterford – Thank you Luke!

In two days time we will ALL be out watching the St Patrick’s Day parade in our local parish. Some may even be lucky enough to be participating. Many will be looking for friends and family, to shout “Well Boy”, or “Well Girl” to. What’s guaranteed is that locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, the world will quite literally be turned green on Friday 17th March. A unique access to the world even if it is “Just for one day!”

That is of course, unless you live in the good old US of A. Where for some reason, they have adopted this festival as their own and renamed it “St Patty’s Day”! Just who the hell is “St Patty” and he certainly wasn’t around when Luke first thought of and dreamed up the idea.

I have no doubt that when the indefatigable, Enda meets with The Donald, this wrong will be righted and next year it will be called “St Donald’s Day”!

One can only imagine the conversation, when they are gathered around that Waterford Crystal bowl, filled with shamrock, (not the traditional US four leaf clovers) and Enda starts asking about the undocumented Irish. The Donald will boot this to touch and soon the conversation will move on to his great margin of victory and the number of Electoral College votes that he actually won.

Or maybe, at the very last minute, he might just refuse to give Enda an audience at all. Because his favourite Irish golf course in Limerick, was once refused it’s very own “Wall”, by the local Council. Something to do with snails, if memory serves me correctly.

Whatever happens this Friday, rest assured that there will be very few who know that the parade they are watching or marching in, was actually created by one of our own. Brother Luke Wadding, an Irish Franciscan friar, who was born in Waterford on 16th October 1588. There is actually a wee, inconspicuous, statue of this man outside Greyfriar’s Abbey or the French Church, as it is also known, halfway up Greyfriar’s Street, just past the Municipal Art Gallery.

Luke persuaded the Pope that St Patrick’s Day, should be recognised by the Holy Catholic Church, as a feast day. Such was his authority and power within the Church that he was granted his wish and the date of 17th March was designated as the day we would feast for St Patrick. Luke, had too many enemies in Rome and as a result, was never made a Cardinal. He did however support the fight against English rule and in particular the fight against a certain Mr Oliver Cromwell. He sent very large sums of money and not insignificant amounts of gunpowder, to Ireland, to help the cause.

Luke, with I have no doubt some help from “His force”, would of course have been delighted that Cromwell never actually took his beloved City of Waterford. “Urbs Intacta Manet” is the City’s motto and long before The Donald had any of HIS walls, Waterford’s walls actually stood strong and proud against the mighty all conquering Oliver.

The Feast Day of St Patrick has in many respects lost its religious connotation. There are very few who will actually attend mass or church on the morning of this day. Perhaps the pressure to get our glad rags or costume ready and be in position for the parade start is just too much. What is certain, is this day gives so many the opportunity to break their Ash Wednesday and Lent promises. For twenty four short hours all thoughts of abstinence can be forgotten and more importantly forgiven.

For so many, St Patrick’s Day is about the parade and a celebration of all that is good about our local communities. It is also about being Irish and the reconnection of those Irish roots, which so many millions around the world hold on to with an amazing sense of pride.

It is unfortunate that we in Waterford do not push the Luke Wadding connection more. A son of Waterford has after all, created St Patrick’s Day. Yet, so few know of this association.

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