Friday, February 19, 2021

St. Patrick and the Irish

According to the 2008 U.S. Census Bureau, about 56.7 million Americans say they have an Irish heritage. That’s nearly 12 percent of the U.S. population, and many Irish still retain a sense of their Irish heritage, including me. I love tea, Celtic music, step dancing, and the color green.

When Irish immigrants came to the U.S. and Canada, they weren’t looking for a handout. They were looking for hope and a future for them and their children, a topic I cover in depth in my novels. These immigrants took many of the menial jobs, everything from farming to hard labor to domestic work. And in large cities, the Irish are known for being at the top of the public service sector, especially law enforcement, teaching, and firefighting.

The Irish have contributed to the American culture in so many ways: literature, film, art, politics, law, medicine, and sports, just to name a few. Irish-Americans you’d know are Walt Disney, Judy Garland, Pierce Brosnan, and Presidents such as Kennedy, Reagan, Andrew Jackson, and over a dozen others.

So why am I sharing this with you? Because, whether you have Irish heritage or not, you do have a heritage—traditions, beliefs, and achievements that are a part of your history. Your heritage has laid a foundation for you, whether you are conscious of it or not. Exploring that heritage will enrich your life, if you take the time to do so.

For me, my Irish heritage runs deep, but I forgot about a lot of it in the busyness of living life. It was everything Irish in my childhood home, and the color green was prominent. I learned a strong work ethic and my Irishness became a part of me.

So, when I started researching about Ireland and the Irish for my novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, I realized that my Irish heritage, in a large part, made me who I am today. I assessed all of it—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and embraced once again the “Irishness” of my heritage. I am proud to be Irish!

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, because I'm Irish, I want to share with you how St. Patrick used a simple weed to share the Gospel.

St. Patrick lived in the fifth century Ireland where the shamrock clover was abundant, even a staple food for livestock. The shamrock is a weed that grows quickly and is hard to get rid of. In Ireland it was everywhere, so as Patrick traveled the country, he had a ready-made symbol that he could easily find, pluck, and use as a teaching tool. Sounds like something that Jesus would have done, doesn’t it?

As he spoke, Patrick would note that the shamrock has three leaves, just as there are three persons in the trinity. In using the shamrock as a symbol, he taught about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who they were, what they did, and how they could change the listeners’ lives. Then, whenever folks would see the shamrock in their garden or fields or yard, their minds would instantly connect to the Trinity and think of God. Brilliant!

As Patrick traveled throughout Ireland spreading Christianity, the shamrock became an important symbol of the Trinity and of God’s work in man’s life. Even today, the shamrock is Ireland’s national symbol and still points to the Trinity as well as to 1 Corinthians 13:13, “and now these three remain: faith, hope, and love”. The number three is so important to the Irish that they use three cords in their Celtic knot, in their three-fold repetitive rhythm of Irish storytelling, in their idea of past, present, and future, and a lot more.

So, when you see a shamrock during this upcoming holiday, remember that it means so much more than just “the luck o’ the Irish.” It’s represents biblical truth, wise teaching, and a beautiful way to share God’s story.

What tools, symbols, or stories to do you use to share the Gospel?

About The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy

After struggling to accept the changes forced upon her, Margaret Hawkins and her family take a perilous journey on an 1851 immigrant ship to the New World, bringing with her an Irish family quilt she is making.

A hundred and sixty years later, her great granddaughter, Maggie, searches for the family quilt after her ex pawns it. But on their way to creating a family legacy, will these women find peace with the past and embrace hope for the future, or will they be imprisoned by fear and faithlessness?

About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than 20 times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books.

Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma and Katelyn’s Choice are available now, and she’s working on book three. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise, and her newest, Reagan’s Reward, are also available. Susan’s books have won numerous awards, including the Illumination Book Award, the American Fiction Award, the Indie Excellence Book Award, and the Literary Titan Book Award. for more.


  1. Susan, like you my Irish heritage runs deep. Born a Mullvain and married to a Mulligan, I certainly can't deny it. The Irish and Scots are so prevalent in the South. We hear it's lilt in the Appalachian accent and see it in the traditions. Everyone loves a Irishman. ;)

  2. Thank you for the post! I love people like St. Patrick who are able to take something simple from everyday life and make it a symbol of the Hope that is within us. Word pictures have always been very helpful to me. I know that doesn't really answer the question that you asked.

  3. My mom was mostly Irish. She told us a story that was real similar to this one. All five of us kids grew up with and Irish heritage, etc. In fact her hair was the same color as yours. And two of my brothers had the same hair. Now they are just white. LOL. My daughter is very Irish and she like me is very proud of our heritage. Thanks for sharing today. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net