Dear Madame L,
Is it true that Saint Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland?
And a happy St. Patrick's Day to you, sure and begorrah! (And that expression, according to Answers.com, comes from the Irish for "Would you look at that!"
Patrick, as a 16-year-old Welsh boy, was captured and enslaved by Irish raiders. After he became a Roman Catholic, he returned to Ireland to preach the gospel, and because of his missionary work and good deeds he became the patron saint of Ireland.
Apparently the story of banishing the snakes isn't true, because Ireland, being an island, never had snakes. The symbolism of the story is beautiful, though: One can imagine Patrick standing on a hill, using a wooden staff (remember Moses and his staff?) to drive evil (symbolized by snakes) out of the land.
May the road always rise to meet you,
BONUS! Here are the complete words of that traditional Irish blessing and a beautiful version of the song: