In honor of my love of goats and Irish heritage, I am reprinting this news article for you. As you all know, I am surrounded by a very Italian proud husband and children so when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around every year…I celebrate in a very big and green way!!! I thought you all might like this story. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all Irishman and want to be Irishman out there!!!
I live in Skerries, a small town in north County Dublin. Mind you, it’s not as small as it used to be. Just ten years ago the population of Skerries numbered roughly seven thousand souls. Today the population of the town stands at about ten thousand, an increase in the region of forty per cent. Not to put too fine a point on it, that’s a heck of a lot of blow-ins in a very short time.
And before anyone gets offended by my use of the term “blow-in” – relax: I’m a blow-in myself. What’s more, one of the first blow-ins ever to set foot in Skerries was none other than the patron saint of Ireland: Saint Patrick. Indeed, it was from Saint Patrick that the town of Skerries took its emblem, the goat. The trouble was, nobody thought to ask Patrick’s permission before they took it.
The story goes that Patrick first landed on Saint Patrick’s Island, one of a number of small islands just off the coastline of Skerries, in the year 432AD. Of course, as Patrick had yet to become a saint at the time, the chances are the island was then known by a different name. Either that or we’re talking about a coincidence of epic proportions.
A self-sufficient man of simple tastes, Patrick had brought with him everything he needed, including a goat to provide him with milk. And the trouble began when the townspeople of Skerries got wind of the fact that there was a goat out on the island.
Not long after his arrival, Patrick journeyed ashore to purchase some supplies in the town and to preach the Gospel to the natives. Unfortunately for him – and even more unfortunately for the goat – a group of local goat-fanciers learned that Patrick was coming ashore and laid their plans accordingly.
No sooner had Patrick left his island bound for Skerries than the conspirators were headed in the opposite direction intent on a spot of goat-napping. And while Patrick was busy in the town, spreading the Good Word and stocking up on groceries in the 5th century equivalent of Super Value, his goat was being captured and whisked off to the mainland where it was soon to be killed and eaten.
When Patrick returned to the island and discovered his goat was missing, he was understandably annoyed. Let’s face it, few things in life are more upsetting than arriving home after a hard day’s preaching to find you can’t even have a cup of tea because some complete louser has taken the last of the milk.
As a matter of fact, Patrick wasn’t just annoyed, he was hopping mad. With one giant stride, he leapt from his own island across to the neighboring Colt Island. From there, another huge step took him over to the mainland. To this very day, Patrick’s footprint can be seen in the rocks at the exact spot where he touched down on the mainland. (And for the record, it looks like he was a size nine, although he might have taken ten in a Nike.)
When he arrived once more in Skerries, Patrick rounded up the natives and demanded to know who had stolen his goat. Hastily gulping down a last few mouthfuls of goat-meat, the townsfolk shuffled their feet guiltily and stared at the ground.
“It wasn’t us,” they chorused. “We didn’t do it.”
At any rate, that’s what they tried to say. What actually emerged from their mouths was the bleating of goats. As the snake population of Ireland would learn in due course, Saint Patrick was not a man to be messed with.
“Well?” said Patrick, arms folded, his foot tapping impatiently on the ground. “I’m waiting!”
Eventually, after much humming and hawing, the people of Skerries ‘fessed up to the crime. They were really, really sorry, they bleated; it would never happen again, honest. Magnanimous fellow that he was, Patrick accepted their apology and restored their powers of speech. From that day to this, however, the goat has been the emblem of Skerries and the people of the town have been nicknamed “Skerries Goats”.
I’ll take “blow-in” any day.