Thousands of black and white flags will be hoisted aloft across Cornwall today as people from the Tamar to Land’s End celebrate their favourite saint.
St Piran’s Day, dedicated to the 5th century holy man who floated across from Ireland and is credited with discovering tin, has grown in recent years into a full-blown week of events, from intimate family meals to mass processions.
The flag of Piran, which symbolises molten white tin pouring from black rock, will be carried by schoolchildren in a series of parades across Cornwall.
Starting in Penzance at 10am, the Grand Bard of Gorsedh Kernow will lead a procession from the top of Causewayhead through the streets to St John’s Hall. An hour later, Deputy Grand Bard and piper Merv Davey will head a march from Lower Bore Street to Mount Folly in Bodmin, where there will be speeches, songs and a rally. The procession will pause briefly in the main street for participants to pay their respects at the memorial of Thomas Flamanck who, with Michael Joseph An Gof, led the Cornish Rebellion of 1497.
In Falmouth, children will also carry banners and flags from The Moor to the Methodist Church, but the biggest gathering of the day is likely to be in Truro. Hundreds of people are expected to gather at the city’s Waterfall Gardens for 1pm, when they will walk along Boscawen Street to High Cross, where Grand Bard Maureen Fuller will deliver a St Piran’s Day message.
Later, a large St Piran’s flag will be piped into Launceston Castle by Rob Strike at 6pm, the same time as a local actor, dressed as the Irish holy man, is brought ashore at Perranporth beach.
Other events are being held in Cardiff and London, where the Kernow In The City party will include a night of music and dance featuring The Oggymen shanty singers from Falmouth, singer-songwriter Louis Eliot, Port Isaac’s Grenaways, and comedy duo The Cornish Oafs. The evening will also feature the London launch of Shout Kernow, a book celebrating the tradition of harmony singing in Cornish pubs. The book’s author, Hilary Coleman, will be joined by Red River Singers to perform a selection of the songs.
Saturday will be Redruth’s turn to celebrate, with a town centre St Piran Festival to includes parades and music.
Pirantide comes to a close on Sunday, when several hundred “pilgrims” are expected to gather at Gear Sands from 1.30pm for a procession across the dunes. This year, for the first time, those attending will have the chance to visit St Piran’s 5th century oratory, which was recently uncovered by a team of archaeologists and members of St Piran Trust.
The trust, which has been campaigning for the oratory to be uncovered for many years, will use the occasion to call on people in Cornwall and across the world to support a crowdfunding appeal to ensure the site remains accessible to all.
St Piran Trust chairman Angela Penrose said: “As St Piran has become a focus for Cornish identity there will be St Piran’s events all over Cornwall and beyond, celebrating his special day.
“It seems appropriate to use this time to call for support to maintain the tangible link with this iconic figure.”
Black and white flags of St Piran will be flown across Cornwall today to celebrate the region’s favourite saint