The New York Irish Consulate has announced a visual arts project for St Patrick’s Day this year. The project aims to educate people about the cultural significance of St Patrick to Ireland and why St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in the United States and in many other parts of the world.
The contest is open to children between the ages of 6 and 16 and includes a category for special needs children as well. The Irish Consulate hopes that the project will educate as well as inspire children to use their imaginations. A family pack is available for download on the Consulate of Ireland New York’s website.
To enter the contest, children must read and complete several documents in the family pack, including “The Story of St Patrick” and its accompanying quiz. For the art portion, a variety of materials can be used, including pencil, charcoal, ink, crayon, pastel, watercolor, gouache, acrylic or oil paint, poster paint, and more. A list of visual art subjects is provided for students to use as a starting point before using “imagination and artistic flair” to create an original artwork.
The Story of St Patrick comes complete with English-Gaelige (Gaelic) translations and phonetics. It tells the legend of St Patrick, which dictates that as a young boy he was taken captive by Niall Noigiallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages) and sold as a slave to an irish farmer named Milchiu. He eventually escaped captivity and fled to the northern coast of Gaul (France). He eventually returned home to his parents and began studying as a priest.
Many years later, Patrick had a dream that convinced him it was his destiny to go back to Ireland and convert people there to Christianity. He returned, setting up monasteries, schools, and churches. He preached Christianity for thirty years, until he died—on March 17th, 461 AD.
Legend also has it that St Patrick is the one who chased all the snakes out of Ireland (they drowned in the sea), and to this day the only snakes in Ireland are in zoos. The clover is significant because St Patrick used it to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the King of Ireland, King Laoghaire.
St Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world by those with Irish heritage (and today, many more join in) as a way to reconnect with their Irish roots, though today many don’t know the legend behind the celebrations.