There’s an old rhyme that goes:
Saint Patrick was an Irishman
He came of decent people
He built a church in Dublin town
And on it put a steeple.
No, he wasn’t (he was British).
No, he didn’t (he describes himself as a “rustic”).
Where? (His work was in Ulster).
What’s a steeple? (Celtic churches were plain barn-like structures).
The long history of misinformation surrounding Patrick continues to extend to the parades in his name. The Irish Times reports that organisers of the Dublin parade claimed 500,000 people were there.
Is the Irish Times not capable of simple arithmetic?
Let’s pretend that we are all very petite and need no more than 60 centimetres of space in which to stand, and let’s pretend that we are so excited at watching the parade that we are prepared to stand in uniform lines ten people deep – a little difficult in some Dublin streets.
500,000 people would need lines totalling 300,000 metres in length: 500,000 x 0.6 metres.
So, we allow 20 lines of people along the route and divide the 300,000 metres by 20: 300,000/20 = 15000.
To have 500,000 people in lines ten deep on both sides of the road would require 15000 metres of road, 15 kilometres.
15 kilometres is somewhat further than the distance the parade follows through the city centre.
Even if one allowed lines twenty people deep, never mind that most people would see nothing, the route would still require 7.5 kilometres.
It is physically impossible for there to be the numbers claimed by the organisers, yet every year the media report these as fact.
Maybe the number at a parade on a Sunday in March is immaterial, but if such straightforward things cannot be properly reported, what confidence can anyone have when more complex statistics are being reported?