Was Ireland’s St Patrick really Scottish?
St Patrick in his writings describes how he was captured by pirates and taken to Ireland while he was still a boy.
He doesn’t state clearly where he was taken from but most historians agree that it was probably somewhere in Wales.
However, a Scottish historian has said that Ireland’s patron saint may have been born in West Dunbartonshire in Scotland.
Billy Scobie believes that studying the history of Dumbarton reveals compelling clues as to where Patrick came from.
He told the Dumbarton Reporter: “A chapel dedicated to St Patrick on Dumbarton Rock is said to have been founded by St Modwenna in the 6th century, then the earliest reference to Dumbarton as the birthplace of St Patrick was in an 11th century manuscript.
“By the 12th century considerable numbers of pilgrims were visiting the saint’s shrine at Kilpatrick, just a few miles from the Rock. By 1542 an English military document was referring to Dumbarton as the birthplace of St Patrick as a simple statement of fact.”
Scobie also pointed to the heraldry of the Earldom of Lennox. He said that the flag of St Patrick features a red diagonal cross, which was a key aspect of the Lennox arms.
He said: “It is surely more than coincidence that the flag of Ireland, as incorporated in the Union Jack, bears the central feature of the heraldry of the Scottish earldom in which the patron saint of Ireland is traditionally believed to have been born.
“The strongest theory is that it was taken from the Order of St Patrick which was founded in 1783, and which adopted as its emblem a red saltire on white. But why was this symbol chosen by the Order of St Patrick? We would love to find out.
“Logic suggests that, either the red saltire on white was an ancient symbol of St Patrick, which was adopted by the Earls of Lennox and subsequently by the Order of St Patrick, or the heraldry of the Lennox – the district of St Patrick’s birth – was adopted as a symbol of the saint – and then of Ireland.”
Scobie says that many historians believe that Patrick was a son of Roman paymaster who was sold into slavery in Ireland.
He believes that Christianity arrived in Dumbarton with the Roman soldiers and that Patrick then took it to Ireland.