There has been a subtle but definitely palpable sense recently of an increase in the flow of Guinness, the celebrated Irish stout. In all likelihood, the reason for the upturn in pump traffic is the imminent advent of St. Patrick’s Day.

This Monday, March 17, in Ireland and wherever Irish people congregate around the globe, millions of Irish men, women and children will get out their green and other finery to mark the generally accepted date of death of the Emerald Isle’s patron saint, who is believed to have lived from 385 to 461. St. Patrick’s Day was made an official Christian holiday in the early 17th century and today celebrates Irish heritage and culture in general.

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