Many people believe there are no snakes in Ireland but is it really true? Researchers have been exploring whether Ireland really has no snakes. So, is it true that there are no snakes in Ireland? Yes, it turns out there are no snakes in Ireland but perhaps not for the reason many assume.
Why do people believe there are no snakes in Ireland?
People have long suspected that there are no snakes in Ireland and it turns out, they’re right. But the reason why there are no snakes in Ireland may be different than what most people believe. The highly popular legend of Saint Patrick describes how the fifth century missionary brought Christianity to Ireland. In addition to ridding the Emerald Isle of paganism, Saint Patrick is also credited with driving out all snakes.
The legend of Saint Patrick is incredibly popular, even among non-Catholics. In the United States, he is honored yearly on March 17th with parades and other festivities. As a result of being so widely celebrated, the legend of Saint Patrick driving out snakes from Ireland has taken hold of the popular imagination. But is it true that there are no snakes in Ireland because one man drove them all out?
Is it true there are no snakes in Ireland?
Yes, it is true that there are no snakes in Ireland, but why if Saint Patrick is not responsible? In short, the last ice age and Ireland’s geography and climate since are the reason why there are no snakes in Ireland.
Ireland is not the only country where there are no snakes. New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Antarctica as well as Ireland have no snakes. It is not a coincidence they are all Islands in cooler climates. But what exactly are the conditions that made it true that there are no snakes in Ireland?
Nigel Monaghan of the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin told National Geographic “at no time has there ever been any suggestion of snakes in Ireland, so [there was] nothing for St. Patrick to banish.” The last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago, made lands at the same latitude as Ireland too cold for reptiles of any kind to survive.
Because Ireland, like Iceland, New Zealand, Greenland and Antarctica, is completely surrounded on all sides with water, there was never a way for snakes to physically get there. Snakes were able to move across land into countries that were too cold during the last ice age but connect to a larger continent. With the combination of an unfavorable climate and geographic isolation, it is true that there are no snakes in Ireland.