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St Patrick’s Day

Posted by THEPOGG on Mar 21, 2019

On the 17th of March, if you live in a part of the world that celebrates St Patrick’s Day then you can look forward to seeing the town painted green, pints of the black stuff being consumed in inordinate amounts, large hats, singing and unabashed and unabated revelry that only our Gaelic friends in the most Westerly part of Europe can provide.

But who was he, this St Patrick, and why to we feel the need to consume a shed-full of whiskey and Guinness on a day that you would assume we are meant to put aside for Catholic piety?

In the 4th century AD St Patrick, who was presumably only known as Patrick at the time, was kidnapped, enslaved and taken to Ireland all at the tender age of 16. However, not only did wily Patrick manage to escape his captures, he also managed to return to the emerald isle years later and convert the whole bally lot of those heathen pagans to Christianity.

Known as the “Apostle of Ireland”, he is the country’s main patron saint, the first Bishop of Armagh and the first Primate of Ireland. Much of what we know about St. Patrick is shrouded in mystery as most history from that time period is. We do have Patrick’s own autobiography to give us some of the basics, but we can’t necessarily just take his word for it. For instance, most historians are now of the opinion that Christianity reached Ireland some time before St Patrick claims to have begun his conversions.

Whilst his initial impact on the birth of Irish Christianity is open to debate, practically no one believes in some legends that surround Ireland’s patron saint.

If you’re familiar with the legends of St. Patrick then you will know he is meant to be the man who rid the island of snakes. Actually, we’re not just talking snakes here, we’re talking all reptiles. There are even contradictions within the legend, as other writings attribute the exile of cold-blooded scaly creatures to work of St Columba, whilst the earliest written record of St Patrick’s miracle did not appear until the 13th century, a full 900 years after the event was meat to have taken place. Pesky scientists with their infuriating evidence would argue that post-glacial Ireland never actually had any snakes:

“”At no time has there ever been any suggestion of snakes in Ireland, so [there was] nothing for St. Patrick to banish”, says naturalist Nigel Monaghan, keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, who has searched extensively through Irish fossil collections and records.”

The truth of this legend is shrouded in metaphor. Snakes have been a symbol of mistrust for thousands of years and there was nothing a Christian trusted less than a heathen. It is most likely that the snakes St. Patrick scared off with his stick were actually Pagan druids and that the process of driving them out would have been generational, opposed to the sweeping cull that the legend describes.

But don’t go thinking that St Patrick was a one trick pony. If the legends are all to believed then he could convert long dead Irish pagan warriors, he could turn his walking stick into an actual tree and finally, and in my opinion, most plausibly, he used the Irish shamrock as a visual aid to help teach the Holy Trinity.

Whether any of this is actually true doesn’t really matter. St Patrick and his legends have become symbolic with his country. In some ways the belief that he swept Christianity across the island is true because his stories and what he represents allowed others to do that on the Rome’s behalf.

Celebrating St Patrick’s Day

You have your shamrocks, that gives us the green that we associate with St Patrick’s Day but why the celebrations? Why does no one paint the town red on St David’s day or drape communities in the Saltire on St Andrew’s Day?

In Ireland the celebrations became synonymous with Irish independence. I was a way to celebrate being Irish after years of British rule and perceived subjugation. But it is America where things seriously took off. Rivers and fountains are dyed green, amidst green, white and gold ticker tape parades that rain down on entire cities. Whilst the day has been celebrated in America since the 18th century, its popularity hit heady heights within the last 100 years.

The nomadic nature of a people starved, divided and subjugated meant that the new world held more promise for most Irish than hanging around their native island did. Nearly 2 million Irish arrived on American shores in the 19th century, a number that increased to nearly 5 million come the end of the 20th century’s first decade.

Quite simply, nothing makes you feel more nationalistic than not being in your country and so the American Irish took to St Patrick’s day in a way that few other saint days will ever be celebrated. For the rest of us who joined in the celebrations, well let’s face it, what else is there to raise a glass to in the middle of March?

Being Irish doesn’t really matter anymore. It is estimated that 60% percent of Americans will celebrate St Patrick’s Day this year, a number that cannot possibly account for just Irish people living in the States. A rough guess is that 13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed in America on the 17th of March this year with plenty more native brews slating many an unquenchable thirst throughout the course of the day.

When it comes to Ireland and slots games there are a few key ingredients that you won’t have to look far to find. There are shamrocks, pints, rolling meadows, leprechauns, fairies, rainbows and the very thing you need most when playing a slots game: luck. You’ll have heard the phrase “The Luck of the Irish”, something that seems counterintuitive when you consider how miserable much of Irish history has been. The phrase is actually an Irish-American one, coined following the success that many had during the early part of the great American Gold Rush, which is itself a well-used theme within slots games.

The games we will bring to your attention will be predominantly Leprechaun themed. In fact, I would go as far as to say that just about all the games on this top 10 list feature a leprechaun either as a character or a symbol. If anyone is unfamiliar with leprechauns then let me take a few seconds to break them down for you:

First of all, they always wear green. They also tend to sport a hat, a beard and are often found smoking a pipe. They are short guys, with magical powers who have an obsession for shiny precious things. They have an affinity with mischief and keep their gold at the end of a rainbow. In some myths leprechauns can grant wishes, but those wishes are normally best left alone.

Along with those tiny mischief makers, you’ll find pots of gold, rainbows, clovers, the occasional harp, pints of beer and maybe even a fiddle or two.

Without wasting any more of your time let’s get into this: Our St Patrick’s Day top 10 slots games:

Finn and the Swirly Spins

Finn and the Swirly Spins is a Net Entertainment game that we scored a perfect 10 when it was released back in 2017. We loved and still do love how incredible this game looks. Finn is a cheeky little leprechaun who sits besides the reels playing his pipe as you spin them in a setup that’s unlike most other games. You form clusters instead of working within paylines and the symbols move in swirling pattern towards the centre point of the grid, hence the name of the game. There are plenty of bonus features here in a game that we guarantee you’ll find entertaining and visually engaging.

Play the game here for free

Lucky Leprechaun’s Loot

A much older release here from Microgaming that might not look as impressive as some of the other games on our list but has still managed to pass the test of time. All the suitable Irish related elements are in place in a game that offers decent value for money and some interesting bonus features. Lucky Leprechaun’s Loot is a much more traditional game than much of what we have on our list and would suit the tastes of slots gamers who like to keep things relatively simple.

Play the game here for free

Leprechaun Goes to Egypt

Having already secured a place on our Egyptian themed list, Leprechaun Goes to Egypt is, in our opinion, the best game in the Leprechaun Goes series that Play ‘n Go have devised. The game looks good, but it is those little touches of mischief that really bring this game to life, as our Leprechaun looks to vandalise some ancient wonders of the world with a touch of Irish charm. There are enough bonuses to keep you engaged and the house edge is just what you might have come to expect from Play ‘n Go.

Play the game here for free

Leprechaun Hills

Quickspin’s Leprechaun Hills does exactly what you would expect a Quickpin game to do. Firstly, it looks excellent and secondly it offers good value for money. The game comes with a few bonus features but is essentially a very simple game for the sort of slots player who wants something that is easy to play but looks excellent. Leprechaun’s Hill has also reminded me that toadstools should have been included in my list of things to look out for in an Irish themed game.

Play the game here for free

Clover Tales

This is a rare thing for us, a Playson game making onto one of our best of lists. What this game does more than anything is remind me of the ambition that Playson used to have before they started down their current path of producing fruits-based games that all look and feel exactly the same. This game looks great, has characters and offers a few interesting bonus features. This game is proof that Playson can make some excellent games and we have our fingers crossed that they remember this themselves.

Play the game here for free

Stacks o’ Gold

Six games in and we have yet to feature 2 games from the same developer. This iSoftBet number is proof, if ever it was needed, that all slots designers have a special place in their hearts for this theme. Every Irish symbol you can think of is here, with the addition a few that we haven’t even mentioned in our feature article. The game looks great, is full of colour and vibrancy. This is another game with an unusual grid formation which helps to keep each and every spin exciting.

Play the game here for free

Lucky Lady’s Clover

Lucky Lady’s Clover is brought to us by BGaming, another new developer in this list. BGaming’s output tends to be very simplistic in terms of aesthetics and features. Lucky Lady’s Clover is no different in that respect but where it does stand out from all the other games on our list is the seriously low house edge. Whilst this game might not be setting the clover on fire, what it does do is offer you some extremely good value for money. So if it’s a bargain you’re after and you want to make the most of St Patrick’s Day then this has to be the game for you.

Play the game here for free

Rainbrew

Rainbrew is the second game on our list from Microgaming. It will also be the only duplication of software developers featured here today. Rainbrew is one of those games that ticks all the boxes without jumping through too many hoops. The game looks great, has some decent bonus features and offers average value for money. All things considered, Rainbrew essentially has no faults but blow you away anywhere either. Essentially this is a game for people who like the basics done very well.

Play the game here for free

Rainbow Riches – Reels of Gold

Rainbow Riches – Reels of Gold is our second game to receive a perfect score of 10 out 10. Released a few years ago now by Scientific Gaming there is nothing on display here for us to criticise. The game is very colourful, has plenty of fun symbols and has some of the best bonus features of any game on our list. You’ll find games offering betting value, games that look better but you will struggle to find a game that is more fun to play, more engaging than Rainbow Riches – Reels of Gold.

Play the game here for free

Leprechaun Song

Leprechaun Song is our final entry and is brought to us by Pragmatic Play. I would go as far as to say that this is my favourite Pragmatic Play game to date. Its sister game, Leprechaun Carol has already made it onto our Christmas list and scored lower than the original, essentially because it was a rip-off of Leprechaun Song. However, the fact that a rip-off of this game has made it onto one of our lists is testament to how good this version is. The game looks fantastic, has an array of compelling bonus features and offers excellent value for money. Seriously, what more could you ask for?

Play the game here for free

Conclusions

Originally when I started compiling this list I was only going to include 5 games. But as I started looking through our library I kept finding excellent Irish themed games. This was one of the easiest lists that I’ve ever had to write because almost every Irish themed game in our library is scoring 7 or more out of 10 and as I’ve shown, there are lots of them to choose from.

For the first time ever there is no Yggdrasil game on our top 10 and that’s because the one Irish themed game they have cannot live with the 10 games I’ve just described. So, the question I want to ask is, why is the bar for Irish themed games so much easier to reach than it is for say, an Egyptian themed game?

For me, it is the fun that these games naturally deliver. They are always bright and colourful. They have the mischief and cheekiness of leprechauns built into them and the features tend to reflect that. It would appear that the light-hearted nature of that theme makes for a much more fun and engaging experience than just about any other and to get ridiculously meta on you I would have to say that the number one themed list of games that I’ve written up so far would have to go to the Irish.

For those who plan on celebrating on the 17th, have a great St Patrick’s Day. Eat, drink and be merry and as the Irish say: Sláinte.

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