Culture

Ireland Reports First Venomous Snake Bite in Its History, Weeks Before St. Patrick's Day

Green tree python. Photo credit Skeeze from Pixabay.

Ireland experienced its first venomous snake bite in history in the lead-up to Saint Patrick’s Day, The Irish Post reported. Saint Patrick, the man credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland, also expelled all snakes from the island, according to legend. But he seems unable to prevent the importation of snakes — even venomous ones — if the Irish fail to honor his legendary legacy.

So Connolly Hospital must have been surprised to receive a 22-year-old Dublin man who had been bitten by a venomous snake late last month. The Dubliner reportedly owns a venomous puff adder, one of the most aggressive and dangerous snakes. The breed is commonly found in Morocco and Western Arabia and is responsible for more snake bite deaths than any other African snake.

James Hennessy, director of the National Reptile Zoo, said this was the first time a medical professional requested anti-venom from his establishment.

“Puff adder venom is pretty nasty,” Hennessy told Newstalk. “It’s going to start digesting and disintegrating all around the area of the bite, and that will continue up the limb as well.”

“It will then cause massive internal issues as well, if not treated,” he explained. The reptile expert added that to his knowledge, this is “the first recorded venomous snakebite in Ireland.”

Saint Patrick, the former slave who brought the gospel to Ireland, lived in the 400s A.D. Most modern observers suggest he could not have driven the snakes out of Ireland since the country has a climate hostile to such reptiles. The most recent Ice Age reportedly prevented reptiles from settling on the island, and that would ostensibly include venomous puff adders.

Yet in recent years, Ireland has been rejecting parts of its Christian and Catholic heritage. In 2018, the country legalized abortion.

Some have asked, “Where’s St. Patrick when you need him?” Yet there is a far darker way to interpret the situation. Perhaps Saint Patrick is letting nature take its toll after removing his protection from the island.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.