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The Banishing of the Snakes

Saturday 17 of March Commemorates St. Patrick’s Day, the patron saint of Ireland.

St Patrick, born in Roman occupied Britain, was taken captive as child by Irish pirates, who brought to Ireland to tend sheep as a slave. He was eventually able to escape and return to England where he became a priest. Having fallen in love with the country where he was a shepherd St. Patrick returned to Ireland to spread his christian teachings, and is now widely regarded as the founder of Christianity in Ireland.

During his time as a missionary in Ireland St Patrick performed many miracles, including most famously the banishing of the snakes. The story goes that during a 40 day fast on top of a hill St Patrick was attacked by snakes. St. Patrick took his shepherd’s staff and expelled the snakes into the sea, forever banishing them from the Island.

Scientific evidence, however, will have us believe that it was the ice age that ‘banished’ snakes from Ireland, and the lack of a land bridge has prevented recolonisation. Either way the fact remains that there no snake species native to Ireland . In fact common lizards are the only reptiles native to the country. As spring approaches the lizards are starting to wake up from hibernation, so it may be a good time to start considering reptile surveys for your project.


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