To Enlarge Holdings:
Clover Pressed in 1909 Shamrock in Wilder Scrapbook
(University Archives, C:22/8/1, Box 1, FF 2)
The students of the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia were the first to "discover" that St. Patrick was an engineer. Since 1903, UMC engineering students have celebrated St. Patrick's Day (March 17) as a holiday set aside for engineers. This celebration has developed into a week of festivities, including lab exhibits, a canned food drive, a knighting ceremony, St. Pat.'s Ball, and the coronation of the King and Queen of the engineers.
According to engineering tradition, the discovery that St. Patrick was an engineer began with the excavations for the Engineering Annex Building. During the excavation, a stone was unearthed with a message in an ancient language. This message was translated into "Erin Go Bragh." Although those of Irish descent may recognize "Erin Go Bragh" as "Ireland Forever," the engineers loosely translated this phrase as, "St. Patrick was an engineer." The stone, now known as the Blarney Stone, is an integral part of the St. Pat. festivities. The engineers looked to the legend that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland as proof of his engineering skills. They further credit St. Patrick with the invention of calculus.
(University Archives, C:9/00/1)
Another version of the origin places a group of engineering students in 1903 in the library or in a drafting room waiting for class to start. They were discussing the long time span between holidays, especially since the College of Engineering attended classes six days out of seven. Professor Greene was unusually late that particular day and the students considered cutting class. Realizing that St. Patrick's Day was soon approaching, the students reasoned that St. Patrick was an engineer and this should be celebrated. The discovery was announced through notices on the Engineering Building and in Academic Hall. As a result, many engineering students cut class in honor of St. Pat. on March 17.
(University Archives, 1907 Savitar)
The next year was less uproarious because Professor Greene threatened to fail anyone cutting his class on St. Pat.'s Day. However, eventually, Professor Greene and other faculty gathered support for the event. It is now organized as a week of festivities by the St. Pat.'s Board, a division of the Engineering Club. Interestingly, Professor Greene was dubbed the first Honorary Knight of St. Patrick in 1907.
Escorting St. Patrick
(University Archives, C:9/13/1, Box 2, FF 1980)
St. Patrick is a very old man, so he is escorted by two engineering students.
Copyright © Curators of the University of Missouri 1997 - 2002
Published by: University Archives muarchives.missouri.edu/
Original Text by: Mary Heady; Graphical Assistance by: Mark Meade and Erik Luther
Originally Prepared: February 2000
Revised: 17 January 2003