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Friday, 5 March 2010


No! Not me on a bad hair day!

St Piran - Patron Saint of Cornwall and Tinners

Legend tells us how Piran, originating from Ireland and known there as ‘Ciran' (the Cornish language naturally mutates the first letter to a softer ‘P'), was cast to sea tied to a millstone on the order of the Irish King who was suspicious of Piran's miraculous powers. Although the sea was treacherous Piran survived, the stormy seas calming as he floated on the millstone until he reached the shores of Cornwall. Many Cornish names now echo Piran's, for example ‘Perranporth', ‘Perranzabuloe' and ‘Perranarworthal'. It was at Perranporth beach, however, where Piran was said to have landed, and where he began to build an oratory to promote Christianity. The oratory is now preserved in the towans (sand dunes) at Perran Sands. His first disciples were said to be a badger, a fox and a bear! Piran is perhaps most famous for his accidental discovery of tin, when a blackstone on his fireplace got so hot that a white liquid leaked out; the first tin smelting. It was this discovery that earned Piran the title Patron Saint of ‘Tinners', tin mining historically being a fundamentally important industry in Cornwall. It was this discovery that also formed the basis of the Cornish flag, the white hot tin on the black of the ore. The Cornish flag is now used universally as a symbol of Cornish identity, from stickers on cars through to corporate organisations using the flag to identify 'Cornishness' to a global audience. According to legend St Piran was fond of a tipple or two, and the phrase ‘drunk as a Perraner' has become common place amongst the Cornish to describe those who share his fondness for alcohol! Despite these tipples, he is rumored to have lived to the age of 206!

St Piran's day celebrations have continued to grow in popularity, with the annual St Piran Play on Perran Sands a highlight, hundreds of people making a pilgrimage to the site of the oratory itself, now buried in sand for preservation.


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