What do a badger, a fox and a bear have in common?
No, it’s not a badly constructed joke. Aside from the obvious animal parts, there is something else…they are said to be the first disciples of Saint Piran, patron saint of Cornwall. From strange beginnings…
A legendary man
There are many legends surrounding Saint Piran. Another has it that Piran was tied to a millstone by heathen Irishmen and rolled off a cliff into stormy seas. No sooner did that happen than the waters turned calm and he floated to Cornwall, where he washed up on Perranzabuloe beach.
Another states that Piran rediscovered the art of tin-smelting, which had been lost after the Romans left, as his black hearthstone, apparently a slab of tin-bearing ore, had the tin smelt out of it and rise to the top in the form of a white cross. This form was adapted to become St. Piran’s symbol and subsequently the flag of Cornwall.
The tin man
Needless to say, with such an art in his arsenal Piran became the patron saint of tin miners in Cornwall and they took St Piran´s Day as a holiday.
“St. Piran’s Day was said to be a favourite with the tinners who having a tradition that some secrets regarding the manufacture of tin were communicated to their ancestors by that saint, they leave the manufacture to shift for itself for that day, and keep it as a holiday.” (R Hunt, Popular Romances of Western England)
The remains of the tin mines at Fowey Consols, create a skyline as jagged as the coastline with the single towers reaching up into the skies. Not far from Trenython Manor they give an insight into the old commerce of the area.
In the late nineteenth century St Piran was adopted as a national symbol when Celtic revivalists looked to provide Cornwall with a national day similar to other nations. Whilst Cornwall is not recognised as a separate nation, the language, customs and flag are associated globally with the English county.
Since the 1950s, the observance of St Piran’s has increased and most communities in Cornwall have some event to mark the day. For guests staying at CLC Trenython Manor around the 5th March, you can enjoy parades at:
Perranporth, 4th March 1.30pm
Across the dunes to the oratory and old church. From 1.30pm, St. Austell Brewery will be handing out fortifying ‘samples’ as you follow St. Piran, his animals and The Falmouth Marine Band.
Bodmin, 5th March 11am
Gather from 10.45 at the Old Library in Lower Bore Street for an 11am march to Mount Folly accompanied by a Cornish piper. Speeches at Mount Folly will be followed by a children’s dance and then progress to St Petroc’s Church where they will perform Cornish plays and songs.