All over Cornwall on 5th March the Cornish celebrate St Piran’s Day and in St. Just we have parades and concerts and a hotly contested window competition for all the businesses in the town.
St Piran came to Cornwall from Ireland in the 4th century and is the patron saint of tin miners and some would say the patron saint of Cornwall itself, although there are others who claim this title.
He is credited with ‘rediscovering’ tin smelting – although tin had been smelted in Cornwall since before Roman times. Legend has it that when his headstone, which must have been a slab of tin bearing ore, had the tin smelted out of it the metal rose to the top and formed a white cross. Hence his flag is the white cross on a black background representing the black ore and white metal!
For the geeks amongst you this flag was carried by the Cornish contingent at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 – (which may be useful info for a pub quiz sometime). St Piran’s flag is the negative image of the Breton flag – also useful info for pub quizzes and illustrating the cultural connections between the Cornish and the Bretons.
This image is seen throughout Cornwall and we have created St Piran’s cat, a black and white cat of course, made as a lamp base and proudly sporting the black and white flag on the lampshade. We think he was such a good chap – he was bound to have been a cat lover.
Fingers crossed the judges find it amusing and good enough to win a prize. There’ll be lots of other items to entice you into the gallery; chough mugs, engine house teatowels, cornish flag cushions and so on!
See you soon!