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Mar 08, 2024

Snakes play a significant role in the legend of St. Patrick, the primary patron saint of Ireland and the man who inspired a wildly popular mid-March holiday. Though the notion of St. Patrick bravely banishing snakes from Ireland certainly supports his worthiness to be the island's patron saint, historians note this particular portion of the legend of St. Patrick is a myth. A 2012 report in National Geographic News noted that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes, as the most recent ice age made the island too cold for reptiles until the period ended 10,000 years ago.

By that point, Ireland was surrounded by seas, which scientists and historians believe kept snakes from colonizing the island. Though the precise dates of St. Patrick's life remain unknown, it's likely he was an active missionary in Ireland during the fifth century, at which time natural history experts in Ireland attest there were no snakes on the Emerald Isle.