Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Little is known of Patrick's early life, though we know he was born in Roman Britain in the fifth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon in the Church, like his father before him. At the age of sixteen he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave. It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. According to his Confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied to be a priest.
In 432, he again says that he was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to save the Irish, and indeed he was successful at this, focusing on converting royalty and aristocracy as well as the poor. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to the Irish people.
After nearly thirty years of teaching and spreading God's word he died on 17 March, 461 AD, and was buried at Downpatrick, so tradition says. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish Church.
On a per-capita basis, Ireland has more writers and artists than any other nation in the world. Some of the greatest writers of the English language are Irishmen;
George Bernard Shaw
All the more remarkable, when you consider their native language was Gaelic . . .
The writer of the worlds's most pornographic novel is an Irishman:
The great actor Peter O'Toole comes from Galway, Ireland.
Irishmen have served honorably in every army on the face of the Earth. Irish soldiers have distinguished themselves in battle in every war from the time the Romans first tried to land on their shores, to this very day. ‘Wild Geese’ was the name given to Irish professional soldiers who dreamt of returning to Ireland, where military skills perfected on foreign fields would be employed against English occupiers:
At Saratoga, in New York's Hudson River valley, rebellious Americans dealt a humiliating defeat to the British Army in October 1777. The American hero was Timothy Murphy, the sharp shooting son of Irish immigrants who picked off two key British officers during the battle.
Among the British prisoners was Sgt Roger Lamb from Dublin, who observed his fellow captives conversing with the Americans across a shallow river. In his memoirs, Lamb recalled how an Irish soldier named Maguire, with the British 9th Regiment of Foot, recognised a familiar voice on the opposite bank.
'He suddenly darted like lightning from his companions, and resolutely plunged into the stream. At the very same moment, one of the American soldiers, seized with a similar impulse, resolutely dashed into the water from the opposite shore.'
Astonished spectators on both banks watched the men embrace tearfully in mid-stream. The accompanying cries of 'my dear brother' soon cleared up the mystery. 'One', wrote Lamb, 'was in the British and the other in the American service, totally ignorant until that hour that they were engaged in hostile combat against each other's life'.
Soldiers of the 69th New York of the Irish Brigade, circa 1863.
Company-Sergeant-Major Martin Doyle V.C., M.M. of the Royal Munster Fusiliers was awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for bravery in combat, while fighting against the Germans in France, 1918.
Y'all know I'm three-quarters Irish, right?
- Sean Linnane
Linnane - the Gaelic version of the name I was born under - comes from the western part of Ireland known as Connaucht - the counties of Galway, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo - home to the wild, hauntingly beautiful scenery of the Connemara.
The Cliffs of Moher