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St Patrick in the Forest , c. 1920, by Frank Brangwyn (Christ's Hospital Foundation)
Myth and legend surround the Patron Saint of Ireland
Most people think that St Patrick was Irish, but historians now believe he was actually born in south Wales at Banwen, which makes the patron saint of Ireland a Welshman!

The evidence for his birthplace in the valleys of south Wales is based on his own writing: ‘I was picked a stone out of the bog. I Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for Father Deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement of Bannavem Taburniae. He had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was about 16 years of age.’

St Patrick was born Maewyn Succat around 386 AD.  His father’s villa was probably the present day site of Tavern-y-Banwen and it was from here that he was kidnapped when he was 16. There was a Roman fort called Ricus at Banwen and a large Roman marching camp stood nearby. These places are remembered today in the names of local farms – Toncastell, which means the land of the fortress and Ton-y-Fildre meaning the land of the soldiers.

It’s believed that Irish marauders captured thousands of people who were sold into slavery. Maewyn (St Patrick) was taken to Ireland where he was held as a slave for six years, working as a shepherd until he managed to escape. And the rest as they say is history: he was told in dreams to leave Ireland and to return later as a missionary. He spent fifteen years in France undertaking religious study and in 431 A.D. Pope Celestine I named him Patricius and sent him on a mission to Ireland.

So next St Patrick’s day remember that all that Irish hero worship is probably for a Welshman!

Where to Visit?

Commemorative stone at Banwen Bog

Banwen Village Trail

Walking trail around Dulais Valley, birthplace of St Patrick

Birth: Banwen Bog 385
Death: 17 March 0461
Saint Patrick
Selfless Heroes