A day when everyone’s Irish

TRIO: Primary school students Jenna Gleeson, 11, Ayva Smith, 5, and Sam Litras, 10, get into the spirit of things ahead of St Patrick's Day on Friday. Picture: Lachlan Bence

TRIO: Primary school students Jenna Gleeson, 11, Ayva Smith, 5, and Sam Litras, 10, get into the spirit of things ahead of St Patrick's Day on Friday. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Guinness will flow, green will be worn and songs will be sung, but who was St Patrick and why do we celebrate St Patrick’s Day?

For many, the March 17 festival is a nod to Ballarat’s long and proud Irish heritage.

It’s said St Patrick grew up in Britain in the fifth century but was captured by Irish marauders and imprisoned on the island for many years. 

He eventually escaped on a ship and, in stormy waters, had a vision that he must return to the Emerald Isle to spread the word of Christianity.

The anniversary of his death then became a religious feast day in the Catholic church.

In the 19th century it was seized upon by those in Ballarat’s Irish population to assert themselves after they had fled hunger and poverty following famine.

St Patrick’s Primary School Ballarat deputy principal Cathy Whelan said a group of parents had made a quilt based on a children’s book students had been reading on the saint, which is now on display.