St. Patrick's Day - Laughing with Snakes in Kid's Books

Driving out the snakes is symbolic of driving out Unbelief, some opinions say.
Driving out the snakes is symbolic of driving out Unbelief, some opinions say.

Snakes and Lizard Legends

St.Patrick driving the snakes out of ireland has become a legend on the par of Paul Bunyan and his giant blue ox, Babe.

The Irish Catholic legend is that Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland and into the sea. This is similar to scripture about Christ sending demon spirits into a herd of pigs that ran off into the sea, freeing a madman from the demons to make him well again. Snakes seem to be a consistent symbol of evil in the Bible and pigs an unsafe food in the Old Testament.

Patrick was said to have mounted a hill and given a sermon, some versions adding that he beat upon a drum as he spoke in order to drive out the snakes.

"I'm not Irish!"
"I'm not Irish!"

Some people become quite upset with the snake-driving monk's story, since no indigenous snakes have been found today or in any fossil records of Ireland.

Perhaps no snakes ever lived in Ireland, or they all slid away in a hurry when the Ice Age approached.

Rare Celtic Knot Snakes
Rare Celtic Knot Snakes

The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway in Ireland's geology is particularly controversial in Northern Ireland -- many have thought it was cut off from the rest of the world, without dinosaurs, mammoths, giant sabre tooth tigers, giant dogs, and other large mammals which could not make it over the causeway.

Giant Deer, but no snakes...

I WAS Irish! (Giant Irish Deer, the largest deer ever to live.)
I WAS Irish! (Giant Irish Deer, the largest deer ever to live.)

In truth, much of the fossil record evidence may simply be buried under the nearby sea. Fossils of large mammals have indeed been found; but so far, no snakes have emerged.

The Giant's Causeway is related to the Irish legend of the giant Finn McCool and fossils of two distinct dinosaurs have been discovered, but no snake bones.

McCool was not the only giant to roam around Northern Ireland in the past. The Great Woolly Mammoth was evident in the area. Another giant animal that few people know about is the largest deer that ever lived -- Herds of Giant Irish Deer roamed the lands with the Mammoth (deer pictured to the lower right).

Some think that the snakes of St. Patrick represented the demons driven out of Ireland in order to convert non-Christians to Catholicism. Be that as it may, the legend of the Irish snakes has gotten carried away over time, humorusly, as shown below.

The Giant’s Causeway

A markerThe Giant’s Causeway -
Giant's Causeway, 44 Causeway Rd, Bushmills, Antrim BT57 8SU, UK
[get directions]

The Last Snake in Ireland

The Last Snake One, Last Snake Two

The Last Snake in Ireland: A Story About St. Patrick

Sheila Macgill-Callahan (Author), Will Hillenbrand (Illustrator)

Great for ages 4-8 and anyone who likes a laugh. Kind of goofy, but a lot of fun, with a surprise ending. Patrick loses his patience when a gang of snakes laugh and hiss at him, teasing him to no end. They tease his sick dog Finbar as well.

Patrick drives all of the nasty snakes out of Ireland except for the largest one. The big snake stalks Patrick. Patrick has a sharp idea and sends the stalker snake over to Loch Ness.

Later in life, Patrick visits Loch Ness to check on the snake, only to find that he has become a legend in Scotland.

Shawn O'Hisser: The Last Snake in Ireland

Peter J. Welling, for ages 4-8. Lots of irish terms to learn and enjoy.

There were apparently two last snakes.

This is a new twist. Ireland's leprechauns are sure that the Irish snakes stole all of their gold, so they drive the snakes on shipboard and sail them away. But they missed one - Shawn O'Hisser.

O'Hisser had been away on vacation when the exodus and banishment occurred. When he returned, all his friends and relatives were gone.With the help of a mouse and a toad, Shawn makes a life for himself. It's a fractured fairy tale with St. Patrick off in a corner somewhere.

Another Last Snake

The Elbows of Snakes

Irish writer Deirdre Madden composed her first children's book and called it Snakes' Elbows.

The story is set in a tumultuous small town named Woodford.

Barney Barrington is the town's shy millionaire pianist. Meanwhile, the evil Jasper Jellit, military mercenary materiel supplier, kicks his dogs and mistreats his employees.

Jasper is also a millionaire, is too greedy. The kinder, introverted Barney makes friends and helps others, but the extroverted Jasper drives people away..

The story has a moral: Jasper makes more money, while Barney is rewarded for his kindness with real friends.

The story reminds me of Roald Dahl tales (i.e., Charile and the Chocolate Factory) and maintains that evil is a snake.

The Global Corner - Snake Protest Demonstration

Dateline Calcutta, February 17, 2009

Unfair to Snakes!

1,000 professsional snake charmers protested unfair treatment in eastern India, playing traditional flutes as they marched together through the streets in song as a protest to demand their right to use live snakes in their traditional performances.

It would seem that snake charmers are organizing just as the Molly Maguires did so long ago in America's first Labor Movement. The Snake Charmers Federation reports 800,000 active snake chamers in the country.

Professional snake charmers are upset that live snakes have been unavallable for performance work, since the government banned them in 1991 by the Wildlife Protection Act.

No snakes were available for comment.

Source

Irish Snake Tours

Patrick's of Pratt Street, billed as America's Oldest Irish Pub since 1847 often sponsors a Tour of Ireland with Sister Anne. Friends of mine skipped the tour last year, but had a bit of difficulty finding lodgings along their route (all usually full, even in the off season). However, they had a delightful time.

The tour includes the cities of Dublin, Donegal, Westport, and Galway and shopping at woollen mills and pottery factories. Other sites to see iclude the Cliffs of Mohr, the Holy Shrine of Knock, Donegal Castle, The Giant's Causeway, Newgrange, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Old Bushmills Distillery, among others. I've seen pictures of most of these places now, and they are all beautiful settings.

In 2009, there will be a 2009 Pub Crawl of Ireland. Visit Patrick's of Pratt at the music filled link and learn about their locations in Balimore MD and Frederick MD. Lots of cartoons and music at both restaurant links as well. You'll laugh until you cry.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

© 2009 Patty Inglish

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Laughing With the HubMob 20 comments

naunette morrow profile image

naunette morrow 7 years ago

Great post thankyou. I did not even know that legend about St. Patrick. Also that deer was great to see how big it was. Did not know that either.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Amazing, isn't it? - That deer is HUGE!


The Old Firm profile image

The Old Firm 7 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

Giant Irish deer my foot. I recognise the skeleton, it's of a huge hare. Obviously one of BT Evilpants harping ancestors.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

It may be at that! And if I recall rightly, BT had 500 offspring with Nessy, which turns out to be a male creature of Irish descent????


The Old Firm profile image

The Old Firm 7 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

He's a worry, that boyo.

I thought Nessy lived in a deep puddle in Scotland.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

According to one of the books above, he was run out of Ireland first. Nessy is Irish-Scottish, then, like Craig Ferguson.


The Old Firm profile image

The Old Firm 7 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

And me, with Welsh, and the League of Nations.

Craig Ferguson? Born in Glasgow, went to America, where's the Irish bit? Was he sexually active with a very elderly expat' snake?


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Patty, thanks for this interesting hub. The relationship between snakes and humans is of long standing and very complicated. I am so sorry to hear about the plight of Indian snake charmers.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Patty, what a fun hub to read! I'm not a big fan of snakes, actually don't even like looking at pictures of them. Not the kind of woman to run and scream, but I've had my share of snake encounters that make me very weary of them -- so much so, that there are some places in the world who don't make my list of "have to see" just because they have an abundance of snakes.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

TOF/Toff -- Ferguson's mother's side of the family is irish. No snakes that I know of, but he's so "different" I must wonder.

Aya - I feel bad for the snake charmers as well and only recently learned thay have a union of sorts. And 800,000 of them. What are they to do?

Jerilee - My least favorite creature is the scorpion and those creatures in SE Asia Area that look like double trillobytes (I'll never eat them), but I know many that fear or avoid snakes.


gwendymom profile image

gwendymom 7 years ago from Oklahoma

Great hub Patty as always. That deer is huge!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Thanks, gwendymom - I was taken aback when I saw the photo for the first time. It's as tall as a building.


Envoy profile image

Envoy 7 years ago from USA

I have thought of going to Ireland one day because it sounds very interesting. The fact Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland make it all the more appealing to me as well :) That deer was gigantic! Great hub!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

:) Thanks Envoy. I always say it's scorpions I don't like, so someone will likely write a Hub called The Shenanigans of Scorpions. lol


Madison Parker profile image

Madison Parker 7 years ago from California

Patty,

I want to go to Ireland because one psychic says she has actually seen fairies there! Okay, not so sure if it was on the way home from the pub or not, but I'm sure willing to give it a try!!


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 7 years ago from South Africa

Great fun hub Patti. Lovely cartoons too. As far as snakes go - well you have seen most of my hubs so you know my true feelings about them.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Madison -- Ye never know what ye'll be finding' on the Emerald Isle. Giant deer and baby loch ness monsters, for instance.

Hi sixty - Snakes can be fun, but not always in reality. I recently found stuffed-animal scorpions as well. I don't find them cute, either.


sixtyorso profile image

sixtyorso 7 years ago from South Africa

Scorpions and spiders I can cope with but just not Snakes Brr


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

I've lost count. St. Patrick AND Paul Bunyun both piss me off! I drove all the giant Blue Ox's out of Ireland and I didn't get nothin'!

How tall is that deer, anyway?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

sixty - give me the snakes and I'll give you the others!

Christoph - You should at least have a drink named after you for freeing the land up from those large Oxen. I think that giant deer is 8-10 ft tall at the top of the head, but it's just a guess.

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