Happy St. Patrick’s Day! St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Born in Britain in the 4th century during the Roman era (according to legend), he was kidnapped at the age of 16 by raiders who transported him to Ireland. While there, he heard a call from God that a ship near the coast would sail him across the Irish Sea back home to Britain. A persisting legend throughout Irish folklore is that St. Patrick rid Ireland of snakes, which may be why there are no snakes found there today, and why he is so revered by Irish folks everywhere.

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Today, no St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated without a few pints of Guinness stout and dressing up in a sea of Emerald Isle green dotted with shamrocks, the national emblem of Ireland. St. Patrick helped popularize the shamrock in representing Ireland – it was originally meant to represent the Holy Trinity, which he used in the process of converting the Irish to Christianity.

In celebration, I’ve drawn this shamrock-covered doodle of Ireland and Northern Ireland, two of my own characters I’ve created for the Japanese animated series Hetalia: Axis Powers, starring personified countries. (Admittedly, Hetalia doesn’t have every country in the world as a character – only the most important ones – and as far as I know, there isn’t a canon Ireland or Northern Ireland. This is where the fans like me come in by creating their own personifications of any other countries which aren’t in Hetalia.) And while I know Ireland has been an independent republic since 1948 and Northern Ireland is still part of Britain, they both celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, as if they’re just one Ireland rather than two with separate ‘personalities’ and with different affiliations. The shamrocks in different shades of green which pepper the page represent the diversity and unity of people of all cultures who live in (Northern) Ireland and the Irish diaspora everywhere. (In keeping with my love of Canada and the east coast in particular, Newfoundland & Labrador has a significant Irish population, and also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like a holiday.) Ireland and Northern Ireland wear their national flags on their shirts to show their pride of being (Northern) Irish, even though they wear those all the time and not just for patriotic occasions like today.

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A big “Cead Mille Failte” (“a hundred thousands welcome” in Gaelic) and a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to Irish folks everywhere!

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