Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Most of us have heard about how the patron saint of Ireland performed the amazing miracle of eliminating every last slithery reptile from the island. While this is true, there is a backstory we’d like to share about some of these snakes who were forced to depart the Emerald Isle. These were no ordinary snakes – they were Irish snakes, and so they found their way into literature and popular culture.
Below, you will find a roster of some of the more well known serpents of Ireland who went on to far greater heights of Infamy. But first, some trivia:
Snakes In Church – Snakes are villains: we learned that in Sunday School. Adam and Eve got kicked out of Eden because of a snake, who was actually Satan. That’s a bad start.
Snakes In Literature – Interestingly, Rudyard Kipling presents a few of the more well remembered serpents in popular culture. According to recent research from the internet, Kipling won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907 because of the power of his observations, the originality of his imagination, the virility of his ideas and his remarkable talent for narration.
Snakes In Cartoons & Movies – Disney has also had a significant say in keeping sneaky snakes squarely in the spotlight. While some people may argue that it’s hard to tell the difference between church and Disney, we’re keeping them in separate categories, for now.
Anyhoo, here’s our brief list:
- Nagini, the snake of Harry Potter fame, who ended up a Horcrux for you know who. Parseltongue was his third language after English and Irish.
- Nag and Nagaina, the pair of cobras who died at the hands of Rikki Tikki Tavi. Formerly known as O’Nag and O’Nagaina.
- Of course the serpents from Snakes on a Plane were part of the United Serpents Union, which was founded by a firebrand of an Irish American snake, Ryan “The Rattler” O’Brien, in Hollywood, CA.
- Kaa the Burmese python, a mesmerizing and charming predator from Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’. The Irish really did go everywhere.
- Sir Hiss, the sibilant sycophant from Disney’s Robin Hood, who was also a hypnotist. Hiss could talk his way out of any predicament.
These snakes may have ended up just eating rats and drinking Guinness had they stayed in Ireland, but like many Irish immigrants, they found fame and glory through hard work, grit, and the mastery of their (slithery) tongue.
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