We didn’t realise it was St Piran’s Day yesterday, not until it was too late to make a Cornish pastie, figgy ‘obbin, a Cornish split or traditional saffron buns… St Piran is the patron saint of Cornwall; just as St George of England was actually Greek, St Patrick of Ireland was British, St Piran wasn’t born in Cornwall but Ireland… Among our little collection of islands it seems that only St David, Dewi Sant, was actually born in the lands where he is actually the patron saint!
When I looked him up, there even seems some confusion as to whether he is Piran or in fact Ciarán, a completely different saint, however for most Cornish people, he is St Piran and he is their patron saint, and the special saint of tin-miners… or could his title be contested by St Petroc? St Petroc who is certainly a saint revered in Cornwall, was probably the son of a Welsh king, and the other contending saint is Michael, from Biblical times.
Cornish people are very proud of their country (not jus a county, but a country) their flag, their saint, their heritage and their food and it seems that the celebrations on March 5th are becoming more common and better supported. As well as parades and marches, there is a growing movement of celebrating with the Trelawny ‘shout’ – a shout is a song; the particular song, ‘The Song of the Western Men’ was written by Robert Stephen Hawker in 1824. This has become the unofficial anthem of Cornwall and although it’s not clear who was the original Trelawny, Sir Jonathan Trelawny, the Bishop of Bristol, imprisoned in the Tower of London by King James II in 1688, or his grandfather, Sir John Trelawny, a Cornish Royalist leader in 1628.
… oh a figgy ‘obbin is a suet pastry with dried fruit, usually raisins! If you want to make one, or any other Cornish recipe, to practice for next St Piran’s day… here is a good link: