Northern Pride

The Scottish Saltire with the Northumbrian flag at Carter Bar

Originally uploaded by neonwilderness.

Yesterday, revellers without even the most tenuous Irish connection packed into pubs across Britain to toast Ireland’s patron saint.

The popularity of St Patrick’s day celebrations (which from what I hear only really took off in Dublin after Irish visitors to America saw how the diaspora partied on March 17th) has inspired English patriots to mark St George’s day with real ale festivals and street parties. But despite fierce regional pride in some parts of England, efforts to celebrate regional Saints remain half hearted or under publicised.

Just three days after St Paddy’s day is St Cuthbert’s day. It marks the anniversary of the death of the former Bishop of Lindisfarne in AD 688, the patron saint of Northumbria and the first recorded English Patron Saint.

He may not have slain dragons or rid a whole island from deadly snakes, but he had a gift for healing which won him many supporters as he travelled around the Kingdom of Northumbria, which at the time stretched from the Firth of Forth to the River Tees.

The North East is one of the most culturally distinct regions in England. So why do we North Easterners miss opportunities to celebrate historic figures like St Cuthbert in the same way that our neighbours the Scots do?

A campaign to mark Saint Cuthbert’s day is gaining pace, with the revival of a pilgrimage retracing the route of monks carrying the remains of St Cuthbert is being planned. Last year, 124 people completed the seven-mile trek, which ends in front of Durham Cathedral.

At a time when millions of pounds have been invested in art galleries, concert halls and other tourist attractions in the North East, perhaps we should learn from the success of St Patrick’s day which must produce significant economic benefits for Ireland.

Celebrating St  Cuthbert’s day would be a fantastic boost for the North East – like the Irish we like a party.

Maybe it’s a bit soon after St Paddy’s for some, but I’m looking for ways to celebrate on Saturday. Any ideas?

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