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The Shamrock has been celebrated as a symbol of St. Patrick (Ireland's Patron Saint) since at least the 16th century. Legend has it that St. Patrick, who lived in the mid-5th century, used the "seamrog" (or "summer plant") as living evidence of the Holy Trinity on Earth. St. Patrick was actually born in Britain, captured by Irish raiders, and spent six years in forced labor in Ireland as a young adult. He returned to Ireland in 432AD to spread Catholicism, and is reputed to have stood on Mt. Croagh Patrick and pounded a drum to drive all the snakes from Ireland.

Shamrock by Raymond Paynter
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