The Saint Patrick's Cross
(no not the one on the Flag - the one you wear on St. Patrick's Day!)
Once upon a time the celebration of the pattern day or saint's day of the Saint of the people of the Island of Ireland united all who resided upon the island, no matter what their belief, in solemn prayer and thanksgiving. The focus of all was upon religion and upon the role of St. Patrick in bringing Christianity and protection to both the people and their Celtic Civilization. As a man from Dublin once told me "and yes, the protection of the Irish - no easy task!". Take a moment to return to that original spirit of the holiday and make a St. Patrick 's Day Cross.
Source: Kevin Danaher, The Year In Ireland
Crofton Croker on the St. Patrick's CrossTo multiply quotations, however, is trifling work, especially upon a point that admits of much less discussion than the absolute existence of the Saint in memory of whom the orgies in question continue to be zealously performed. But a few words may be permitted on the subject of the crosses worn in honour of St. Patrick, and respecting what Holt calls the " ornaments that are due to his memory." Lawrence White, a "lover of the Muses and mathematics," as he styles himself on the title-page of a volume of poems, which he published nearly a hundred years ago (1742) in Dublin, describing the progress of a love affair, says,
He gained the affections of the maid,
It appears from this, that these crosses were made of silk and embroidery; but, as in modern times, tapestry became superseded by paper, so to be embroidered St. Patrick's cross was imitated in coloured papers, of which the annexed is a faithful representation, one fourth of the original size, with the colours heraldically tricked. The popular demand for decorations of this saintly order being very general in Ireland, and especially an object of ambition among juvenile patriots, the state of whose finances did not warrant the outlay of one penny; an inferior kind of decoration, or cross, was devised by rustic ingenuity to gratify the humbler votaries of St. Patrick. This badge was formed by arcs intersecting each other within a circle, by which something like the figure of two shamrock leaves united at the stalks was produced; but any resemblance that fancy might have traced in the outline, was destroyed by the colourist, who, according to his own taste, introduced red, yellow, and green, into the various sections: the red colouring matter being generally procured from a puncture made in the artist's finger for the purpose; the yellow, from the yolk of an egg; and the green, from the vegetable sap of a plant commonly called pennywort. The instrument with which the outline was traced, was no less primitive than the colours. This substitute for the mathematician's compass was called a goulloge i.e. fork. It was an angular branch of a tree or shrub, in one end of which was fixed a pin, and on the other a pen.
The circular manufacture of national decorations has, however, within the last five or six years, completely disappeared before the work of that mighty engine, the press; by means of which various representations of St. Patrick, and of fanciful crosses, are now produced. Two examples of these wood-cuts, one fourth of the original size, are here given, which the reader will please to imagine bedaubed with pink, green, and yellow, and glittering with the tinsel of Dutch metal. It should be observed, that the cross of St. Patrick was worn pinned on the left arm, or attached to the cap or hat, a practice now confined to children; while men, those "children of a larger growth," substitute for the badge anciently used on the anniversary of Ireland's Saint, a bunch of shamrock or trefoil, by the size of which an estimate may be formed of the amount of the patriotic zeal of the wearer. The shamrock, however, appears to have been formerly considered only as an apology for any less splendid decoration.
Nay, not as much has
And, as "ornaments in honour of St. Patrick," bunches of shamrock covered with tinsel regularly make their appearance, as marketable articles, in Covent Garden, on the 16th and 17th of March.
In 1783, the Order of the Knights of St. Patrick was instituted by King George III., " of which his majesty, his heirs and successors, were ordained perpetual sovereigns, and to which several of the most eminent characters under the united monarchy of Great Britain and Ireland, have been elected knights' companions."
The popular songs of Ireland