Patrick was a Roman-British missionary. He is now the patron saint of Ireland. The anniversary of his death on 17 March has become a religious and secular holiday around the world.

Many countries celebrate, especially within the Irish community.  Legend has it that Patrick was born in Roman Britain. He was captured by raiders and enslaved in Ireland, where he found God and converted thousands to Christianity.

This history evolved into an allegory about Patrick driving snakes off the island He was canonized in the 1600s and religious ceremonies are held around the world. The holiday has largely become a celebration of diversity in the United States to where poor Irish immigrants first brought the custom.

Until recently Ireland was a predominantly and devoutly Catholic nation; therefore the symbols of church and state have combined and transformed.

According to legends, Patrick used the three-leaf shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to converts.


The color green is closely associated with the Irish independence movement going back hundreds of years.

17 March falls in the middle of Lent but the Church granted an exemption on dietary and alcohol restrictions.

Parades began in North America and spread among the diaspora. Together these threads created the iridescent commercial carnival of heavy drinking we enjoy today.

The Irish government and the public use the ubiquity of the holiday to promote the country's businesses and a deeper look at its rich culture.

A meeting between the U.S. president and the Irish prime minister has become a formal addition to the festivities!

Our vintage archive includes many Irish images from holiday parades and cathedrals to state visits and beyond. Check out now some of the most striking images!

Some are of the green-dyed river in Chicago, Illinois!



St. Patrick's Day Parade in Japan