Saint Sheila – Should Be as Celebrated as Saint Patrick!

The unoffical Tricolour of NewfoundlandThe unoffical Tricolour of Newfoundland

Pity your liver. Duty declares today you have to toast Saint Sheila. Yes, as we cope with the hangovers in Galway, America and even Australia, little thought is given to the day after Saint Patrick’s Day. March 18th is Saint Sheilas Day. (Its spelled many different ways, all of which are correct)

Legend has it, she was his WIFE!

Media across the globe have only lately taken up the idea, with articles going viral in 2017.

It was the first I then had heard of it, and thought it satire at the time.

Where is Saint Sheila celebrated?

One of the last places on earth to have it as a major contemporary festival is Newfoundland. Thats the place where its unofficial but popular flag is Green White and Pink.

John McGregor wrote in “British America”:

“St Patricks Day, and St Sheelaghs day, the day following, are occasions when the mass of Newfoundland Irish revel in the full glory of feasting and drinking” (1)

The unoffical Tricolour of Newfoundland

The unoffical Tricolour of Newfoundland

What is the Background to Saint Sheila?

Saint Sheilas Day used to be a major celebration here in Ireland. Tales of drunkenness, revelry and all that goes along with it made the papers both in Ireland, and Australia.

It drove people to perplexity as to its origins with William Hone writing:

“Its observers are not so anxious to determine who Sheelah was as they are earnest in her celebration. Some say she was his wife, more his mother” (2)

He concludes pointing out the Shamrock should be drowned in the last drink of Saint Sheilas Night.

Some writers seem to think its the same source as the Sheelagh na Gig tradition, and that somehow the fertility Goddess became a Christian saint as part of Syncretism. She does not show up as an official saint, or a saint by popular acclaim listed on any Catholic Saint website I have looked up.

Can we handle any more celebrations?

With winning the Grand Slam against the Auld Enemy on our National Holiday, we wonder can we handle any more festivities.

But, sure its as good a reason for a second day on the lash as any!

With its stereotypical greeting of G’Day Shiela, if Australia need a patron saint, she would be a good one to have!!!

Reference

(1) John McGregor  “British America” 1832

(2) William Hone “The Every Day Book” 1827

About the Author

Thomas Carty
Thomas Carty is a Renmore resident, having moved to Galway for work a couple of years ago. Both his parents were originally from Ballinalee in Co. Longford but he grew up in Banagher and maintains his Offaly connections with membership of the poetry group Tullamore Rhymers Club. An amateur genealogist and historian, he writes on a range of topics that grab his interest. He works at security to pay the bills, and travels widely around Europe to keep sane!