Saint Patrick (?373-?461)

[vars. d.?463, 493]; given name Succat; obit. acc. Annals of Ulster; orth. vars. d.?490 DIB; 385-?461 DIW]; Christian missionary and patron of Ireland; b. Bannavem Taberniae, nr. west coast of Roman Britain, prob. nr. Dumbarton, Monmouthshire; grandson of Christian priest Potitus and son of Calpurnius, a deacon (and his wife Concessa, acc. Muirchu), owner of villula with land and slaves, and a municipal official [decurion]; later confesses an early sin committed in early manhood and poss. connected with pagan and Mithraic [Mithrades] practices; captured by Irish raiders at fifteen c.395-400, though possibly in the raid by Niall of the Nine Hostages on Britain where that king (the destroyer of Carleon and four other Roman-British towns) was killed by an arrow in 405;
witnessed massacre on his father’s estate and possibly the death of his parents [‘devasterunt servos et ancillas domus patris mei’]; sold into service [slavery] of one Milchu in Ulster for six years, herding swine [or sheep] on Slemish, Co. Antrim; later in Connaught [Connacht], West of Ireland [‘ubi nemo ultra erat’]; instructed by Victoricus in dream-vision to escape on a ship from port at two hundred miles distance involved in exporting wolfhounds [apocryphal and err. from ‘carne’, beef or cattle, in the Confessio, 19]; escaped and boarded ship at Wexford, poss. at Arklow or Wexford; unwilling to make a compact with the crew, who invited it some former of blood-brotherhood by sucking their breasts [‘Come ... we are admitting you out of good faith .. make friendship with us in any way you wish’];
party ran out of food in S. Gaul [‘deserta devastata’], when a herd of swine miraculously appeared in view; prob. ed. for the priesthood at St. Germaine, Auxerre; spent undetermined period of time in Gaul; poss. student of St. Germanus of Auxerre, prior to the latter’s being raised to bishop; encountered missionaries bearing news of the failure of Palladius’s mission to Ireland mandated by Celestine [‘Ad Scottos in Christem credentes ... Palladius primus episcopus mittitur’, acc. Prosper of Aquitaine, a.d.431]; saw vision of angel called Victoricus, ‘coming as it were from Ireland’ with letters, among them one headed Voice of the Irish [‘vox Hibernigenarum’] from the Woods of Fochlut [or Foghlut; ‘iuxta silva Focluti quae est prope mare occidentale’] asking him: ‘We beg you, holy boy, to come hither [‘adhuc’] and walk among us once more in Ireland’;
consecrated by one Amathorex [acc. Muirchu]; reached Ireland with some 24 clerics incl. one skilled in making ecclesiastical furniture, c.432 [date given in Annals of Four Masters; liturgically celebrated on 6 April], landing briefly in Wicklow, and thence moving on by sea to Strangford Lough; establishes first church on lands of Dichu at Saul; converts the six sons of Bronach, dg. of his former master Milchu [Miliucc], who immolates himself in his house rather than accept the new religion from his former slave, and was made the object of a curse [‘of him shall be neither king or Tanist; his seed and offspring shall be in bondage after him; and he shall not come out of hell forever’];
travelled south to the Boyne valley and confronted druids at the court of the high king Laegaire [or Leary] at Tara, lighting his own fire in defiance, 25 March, 433; defies royal entourage [‘Hi in curribus, at hi in equis, nos autem in nomine Domini nostri ambulabimus …’]; engages in conflict with Lucat Mael and Lochru; reverses the eclipse of the sun [var. snow and darkness] brought about by druids; destroys Crom Cruach, idol; banishes snakes from the country, acc. undocumented legend; uses trefoil [three-leafed] shamrock to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity at Tara; converted Ireland to Christianity in his lifetime; revised the Seanchas Mór, prob. with Dubthach;
records that he baptised thousands in his journeys through Ireland, ordaining and founding churches; he gave rich gifts to kings and judges; ecclesiastical foundations at and associations with Downpatrick, Co. Down; Armagh and Croaghpatrick, Co. Mayo; by tradition held to have shrived and fasted at Croagh Patrick; author of Epistola ad Milites Corotici [Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus]; wrote his Confessio; also associated with him are a fragmentary piece, Dicta Patricii [“Sayings of Patrick”] and “Riagail Padruic”, a text of the same sort; the traditionally-ascribed Lorica or Breastplate of St. Patrick is of later provenance; firmly held by Bernard of Clairvaux to be ‘the apostle who converted the whole Irish nation to the faith of Christ’ (Life of Columbanus); said to have died on 17 March 461, the date on which his feast is celebrated;
the Book of Armagh was presented to TCD through the intervention of Dr. Wm. Reeves, 1855; Catholic and Church of Ireland churches built at Saul, Co. Down, to celebrate the centenary of his arrival in Ireland, 1932; St. Patrick’s Bell was taken from National Museum to be struck during consecration of High Mass at Eucharistic Congress, 26 June, 1932; St. Patrick is considered to be the author of earliest document written in Ireland; a controversy concerning so-called ‘two St. Patricks’ was initiated by Thomas F. O’Rahilly in 1942; Michael MacLiammoir (script) and Hilton Edwards (dir.) produced a pageant of the arrival of St. Patrick under the aegis of An Tostal, performed in Croke Park, 1953; 1961 was declared the ‘Patrician Year’ by the Irish Catholic hierarchy in commemoration of the 1,500th anniversary of his death; in 1998 harry Jelley proposed a new birthplace for St. Patrick in Cary Valley, Somerset; in 2013 Roy Flechner launched the theory that St. Patrick was originally a Romano-British slave-trader; pious images of St. Patrick appeared prolifically in the 19th century - including that in Mary Cusack"s History of Ireland (infra); the commissioned memorial at Tara Hill is by Thomas Curry (821-1911); the statue of St Patrick in St Patrick"S Cathedral, Dublin, is by Melanie Le Brocquy (1919-2018). ODNB DIW DIB

Trad St Patricks: Mary Cusack (History of Ireland); Tara monument; ‘Protestant’ St. Patrick

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See extracts from ...
  “Confession of St. Patrick”
“Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus”
“The Life of St. Patrick” (Muirchú)
... under Quotations, infra.


Manuscript & Early Editions
  • Collectanea [called Brevarium by Eoin MacNeill], a MS life by Tírechán of Mayo, pupil of Bishop Ultan of Ardbraccan, Co. Meath [d.657], based on oral and written accounts by Ultan on behalf of the Connaught dynasty at Tara in and supporting the claims of Armagh to paruchia Patricii; written c.664-68 [var. c.680] and preserved in Book of Armagh.
  • MS life of Patrick by Muirchú Maccu-Machtheni (c.699), written at the behest of Aedh, Bishop of Sletty, also preserved in the Book of Armagh [with another copy in Royal Library of Brussels as MS No. 64], along with the oldest of 6 extant copies of the Confessio and other Patrician documents including the Collectanea of Tírechán and Liber Angeli [containing three entries - viz, a reference to journeying in isles of Tyrhenian sea; a quotation from Epist. Coroticus, and a prob. apocryphal sentence enjoining the use of the Kyrie Eleison among ‘Roman’ Catholics].
  • A Latin life by Joscelin of Furness [vars. Jocelin, Joceline] (1153; var. 1186), elicited by John de Courci during his invasion of Ulster, and incl. as Tractatus de Purgatorio S. Patricii / ‘A Latin Narrative of the Life and Miracles of St. Patrick’ in Thomas Massingham, Florilegum Insulae Sanctorum Hiberniae [2 vols.] (Paris 1624), of which the original, along with David Rothe’s ‘Distinction of Purgatories’, is held in the BL as MS Arundel 292.
  • Other medieval accounts of Lough Derg by Sir William de Lisle (in Froissart) and Georgius Crissaphan; Philip O’Sullivan Beare, Patritiana Decas (1629), a life of St. Patrick in 10 parts.
  • Seven ‘lives’ of Patrick in John Colgan’s Triadis Thaumaturgae (1647), though not any of those in the Book of Armagh, but including [?] the Tripartite Life [‘Bethu Phadraic’; var. ‘Beatha Padraic’].
Modern editions
  • Whitley Stokes, ed. [and trans.], The Tripartite Life of Patrick: with other documents relating to that saint [Rolls ser.] 2 vols. (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode [for H.M.S.O.] 1887) [see details].
  • George Thomas Stokes & Charles H. H. Wright, trans., The Writings of St. Patrick the Apostle of Ireland: A Revised Translation, with history and critical notes [3rd Thousand] (London: J. Nisbet; Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1887), 79pp., 8°/21cm., and Do. [2nd edn.; 4th thousand; rev. & enl.] (London: J. Nisbet & Co. 1888), 88pp. [22cm.; twice rep. as 2nd thousand & 3rd thousand in 1887; see extracts]
  • Newport J. D. White, ed. & intro., Libri Sancti Patricii, the Latin Writings of St. Patrick (Dublin 1905).
  • St Patrick: Apostle of Ireland [The Notre Dame Lives of the Saints ser.] (London: Sands & Co. 1911), xi, 274pp. [20cm.; ‘Based on the documents edited by Dr Whitley Stokes for the Rolls Series’ - Preface].
  • Rev. Newport J. D White, St. Patrick: His Writings and Life [Translations of Christian Literature, Ser. V: Lives of the Celtic Saints] (London & NY: Macmillan 1920) [incl. an English trans of Muirchú’s Life of Patrick].
  • Ludwig Bieler, ed., Libri Epistolarum Sancti Patricii Episcopi [Confessio and Epistola], 2 vols. (Dublin: Irish Manuscripts Commission 1952), Pt. 1: Introduction and Text; Pt. II: Commentary.
  • Ludwig Bieler, The Works of St. Patrick [with] St Secundinus’ Hymn on St. Patrick [Ancient Christian Writers 17] (Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press; London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1953).
  • Ludwig Bieler, ed., The Patrician Texs in the Book of Armagh [Scriptores Latini Hiberniae 10] (Dublin 1979).
  • A. B. E. Hood, trans., Confessio and Letter to Coroticus (Phillimore 1979).
  • R. P. C. Hanson, The Life and Writings of the Historical St. Patrick (New York [] 1983).
  • Bishop Duffy, St. Patrick in his Own Words [Confession] (Dublin: Veritas 2000), 96pp.
  • Philip Freeman, St. Patrick of Ireland (NY: Simon and Schuster 2005), 240pp. [see details].
  • [...]
  • John Skinner, trans., The Confessions of St. Patrick, foreword by John O’Donogue (Mass Market Paperback 1998), 112pp.
  • Ann Dooley and Harry Roe, ed. & trans., Tales of the Elders of Ireland [Acallamh na Senorach] [Oxford World Classics] (OUP 2008), xliii, 245pp. [see details].

Sotheby’s Catalogue (Dec. 1997)

The Book of Armagh, formerly called Canoin Patraicc due to the misidentification of its holographic authorship with St. Patrick himself based on a line therein [‘hucusque volumen quod Patricius manu conscripsit sua’], was copied by Ferdomnach at the instigation of Primate Torbach in 807[?]; Donnchad, son of Flann had a jewelled case was made for it, 937; a folio verso bears the note of acceptance of the supremacy of Armagh by Maelsuthain, ‘soul-friend’ of Brian Boroimhe during his ‘righthandwise’ progress through Ireland; the Book was considered synonymous with a title deed to the legal comharbship [coarb] of Patrick, and possession of it secure the primacy for Niall after St. Malachy compelled him to retire from Armagh; employed by Jocelin of Furness Abbey while in the sister abbey in Co Down as basis of his life of Patrick, written in connection with the translation of the relics of Patrick, Brigid, and Columba, 1186, the ‘Conoin’ having been taken by John de Courcy, along with the ‘Bacculus Jesu’, when he captured Thomas O’Connor, Primate - the bishop and his Patrician relics being restored later to Armagh; Bishop Ussher and Sir James Ware also examined it, the former for his Discourse of the Religion Anciently Professed by the Irish and the British (1631) and Primordia (1639), from which John Colgan derived his knowledge of it; Ware collated it for his edition of the Confessio in S. Patricio adscripta Opuscula (1656); it was for long the special charge of Maor na Canoine [Stewards of the Canon], otherwise MacMoyres, who retained it up to 1681 in spite of adversity and dispossession at the hands of George Fairfax and Lord Caulfield; Florence MacMoyre of that family appeared as a witness against Oliver Plunket in June 1681, pawning the Canon to appear in London; thereafter owned by Arthur Brownlow, and so listed by Humphrey Lloyd in 1707; deposited by Rev. Francis Brownlow in RIA, 1846; offered for sale at Dublin Exhibition, 1853, and purchased by Dr. Reeves for 300 pounds, thence passing for the same sum to Lord John George Beresford, Protestant Primate; presented by the latter to TCD, 1854 [note var. 1855], through the intervention of William Reeves, it was presented to TCD; on the death of Reeves, John Gwynn completed the editing the Book of Armagh [Codex Armanachus] (RIA 1913); not consulted by John Lanigan (Eccles Hist., 1822) or by Villaneuva (Works of St. Patrick, 1835); consulted by Todd (Life of St. Patrick, 1864), Dr. Bury (Life of St. Patrick: His Place in History, 1905); missing front pages of the Book of Armagh supplied by Edmund Hogan from more complete copy in Bollandist Library, Brussels, and formerly in Würzburg (Hogan, 1882). Note further that the Book of Armagh was offered for sale in London in 1831.[ top ]

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Bibliographical details
The Tripartite Life of Patrick: with other documents relating to that saint / edited with translations and indexes by Whitley Stokes, Published by the authority of the Lords commissioners of Her Majesty’s Treasury, under the direction of the Master of the Rolls [Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores ser., No. 89] 2 vols. (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode [for H.M.S.O.] 1887), ill. [folded facs.; 26cm.; English on recto; Irish on verso]. CONTENTS: Introduction; The Tripartite Life [using Gaelic facsimile pages from Egerton 93]; Other documents concerning S. Patrick [being] Documents from the Book of Armagh; The Confession of S. Patrick; S. Patrick’s letter to the Christian Subjects of Coroticus; Preface to the Faed finda; Secundinus’ hymn, with preface, from the Franciscan Liber hymnorum. Preface to the foregoing hymn, from the Lebar brecc; Fiacc’s hymn; Ninnine’s prayer; Homily on S. Patrick, from the Lebar brecc. Appendix; Indexes.  [Available at Internet Archive - online.

Further details [text in view]: The Tripartite Life of Patrick, with Other Documents relating to that Saint [after printed frontpaper, Rerum Britannicarum medi Aevi Scriptores, or Chronicles and memorials of Great Britain and Ireland during the Middle Ages; &c. [in “English Rolls” ser.], ed. with trans. and indexes by Whitley Stokes, DCL, LLD, Hon Fellow Jesus Coll., Oxford; &c.; 2 vols. London: Printed from Her Majesty’s Stationery Office by Eyre & Spottiswoode; Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black; Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, & Co. 1887.) CONTENTS - Vol. 1: Introduction [containing Stokes’ philological notes, commentary on contemporary Irish society, ecclesiastical records, etc.; (ix)-cxcix; Bethu Pathraic [3]-263 (headed in manuscript hand by words, ‘Bethu Pathraic Andso’ and beginning, ‘Populus qui sedebat in tenebris vidit lucem magnam’ [Is: ix, 2.]. Vol. II [paginated continuing from Vol. 1, recommencing at p.269]: Notes by Muirchu Maccu-Machtheni, Tirechan’s Collections; Additions to Tirechan’s Collections; The Book of the Angel; The Confession of St. Patrick [pp.357-75, beginning: ‘Ego Patricius peccator rusticissimus et minimus omnium fidelium et contemptibilis sum apud plurimos patrem habui Calpornum diaconum filium quendam Potiti, filii Odissi presbyteri, quit fuit in vici Bannavem Taberniae’]; Epistle to the Subjects of Coroticus [375-380]; Secundinus’s Hymn, Leabar Brecc, Fiacc’s Hymn, Leabhar Brecc Homily on S. Patrick; Annals from Book of Leinster, Gilla Coemain’s Chronological Poem, Patrick’s Successors, &c., &c. [note that Nempthor is rendered as Nanterre, seven miles from Paris]; Indexes, 575-676 [End]. (See Stokes’s introductory remarks on the substance of the Lives under Commentary, infra.)

[Internet: A copy of the The Tripartite Life in the John M. Kelly Library of Toronto University, donated by the Redemptorists of Toronto Province, is available at Internet Archive - online.]

Bibl. note: The Tripartite Life was orig. compiled c.895-901; older copies in Lebor Brecc [The Speckled Book] and in The Book of Armagh - the former in the RIA; also extant are newer copies in Egerton 93 (written in 1477); another in Rawlinson B 512 - in which the Tripartite Life is item 7. The Life incorporates material of Muirchu and Tírechán along with many additional miracles and fantastical deeds including one in which St. Patrick runs chariot over adulterous sister Lupait; most popular life of Patrick for Irish-speaking community; Patrick spend childhood in fosterage in Britain; gains possession of the Baculus Jesu; incls. Saint Patrick’s Breastplate (otherwise known as the Lorica, or “The Deer’s Cry”), integrated with the story of Patrick at Tara; adds the Croaghpatrick (Cruachan) story to the accumulated legends. (See J. F. Kenney, Sources for Early Irish Civilisation, Columbia UP 1929.)

[Internet: The “Betha Phatraic” can be seen at CELT - online; accessed 10.05.2012. See also Whitley Stokes, Three Homilies on Saints Patrick, Brigit and Columcille (Calcutta [priv.] 1877), in a copy from Daniel Binchy’s library - available at Internet Archive - online. See also extracts from Betha Phatraic, attached.

Sir Samuel Ferguson, The Confession of St. Patrick, translated into blank verse by Sir Samuel Ferguson, LLD, Pres. Royal Irish Academy [Transactions of RIA, Vol. XXVII; Polite literature and Antiquities, VI] (Dublin: RIA 1885) [cited in Rev. George Thomas Stokes, DD., and the Rev. Charles H. H. Wright, DD, Writings of St Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, a revised translation, with Notes, Critical and Historical (Dublin: Hodges Figgis & Co. [for Dublin Univ.]; London: James Nisbet & Co. 1887). [See further under Ferguson, q.v., supra.]

Philip Freeman, St. Patrick of Ireland (NY: Simon and Schuster 2005), 240pp. Publisher’s notice: Born to an aristocratic British family in the fifth century, Patrick was kidnapped by slave raiders at age 15 and sold to an Irish farmer. After six years of tending sheep he escaped, walked 200 miles to a port city he had seen in a dream, and sailed for home. Years later, as a priest or bishop, he returned to Ireland. Bribing petty kings for safe passage through their rural domains, he preached, baptized and established churches in his beloved adopted land. This information about the saint's life is known from two lengthy letters he wrote late in life, both included in a lively translation by Freeman, a classics professor and author of three previous books about the Celtic world. Dismissing many familiar tales as myths, he relies on archeological discoveries as well as Greek and Roman writers to create a colorful picture of Ireland at the end of the Roman Empire: its kings and headhunting warriors, gods and human sacrifices, belief in the Otherworld. “I am a stranger and an exil living among barbarians and pagans, because God cares for them,” Patrick wrote. Besides, time was running out: As Freeman observes, “The gospel had been preached throughout the world and was even then, by [Patrick’s] own efforts, being spread to the most distant land of all. There was simply no reason for God’s judgment to be delayed once the Irish had heard the good news.” In the storytelling tradition of popular historian Thomas Cahill, this small book offers a fascinating and believable introduction to Ireland's patron saint.’[Reed Business Information/ Reed Elsevier Inc.]

Ann Dooley & Harry Roe, ed. & trans., Tales of the Elders of Ireland [Acallam na SenĂ³rach] [Oxford World Classics] (OUP 2008), xliii, 245pp. Pub. notice: Tales of the Elders of Ireland is the first complete translation of the late Middle Irish Acallam na SenĂ³rach. Dating from around the end of the twelfth century it is the largest literary text surviving from early Ireland, mingling the contemporary Christian world of Saint Patrick, the earlier pagan world of the ancient, giant Fenians and the parallel, timeless Otherworld, peopled by ever-young, shape-shifting fairies. It also provides the most extensive account available of the Otherworld's music and magic, internecine wars, malice toward, and infatuation with, humankind - themes still featured in the story-telling of present-day Ireland. This readable and flowing new translation is based on existing manuscript sources and is richly annotated complete with an Introduction discussing the place of the Acallam in Irish tradition and the impact of the Fenian or Ossianic tradition on English and European literature.

St. Patrick"s Cathedral, Melanie Le Brocquy (1942) Tara Hill - Winter (photo of 2023).

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  • Edmund L. Swift, The Life and Acts of Saint Patrick (Hibernia Press Co. Dublin 1809), 8o [trans. of Jocelin].
  • Anon. [Rev. Patrick Lynch], The Life of St. Patrick to which is added the celebrated hymn by his Disciple St. Fiech (Dublin: H. Fitzgerald 1810) [attrib. to Patrick Lynch: BML Cat.; see details & extracts].
  • James Henthorn Todd, St. Patrick Apostle of Ireland (1864) [see extracts].
  • Aubrey de Vere, The Legends of St. Patrick (London: Henry S. King 1872) [stanzaic poetry].
  • R. Steele Nicholson, St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland in the 3rd Century: the story of his mission by Pope Celestine in AD 431 and his Connexion with the Church of Rome Proved to be Mere Fiction, with an appendix containing the Confession and an epistle to Coroticus (Dublin: McGlashan & Gill 1868).
  • Mary Cusack, The Life of Saint Patrick: Apostle of Ireland (London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1871), 656pp., 8° [containing the ‘Tripartite Life’ in a trans. by William Maunsell Hennessy]; Do. [another edn. 1874].
  • William Bullen Morris, The Apostle of Ireland and his modern critics, with an introductory letter by Aubrey de Vere (London: Burns & Oates 1881), 39pp.
  • Whitley Stokes, ed., The Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, 2 vols. (Rolls Series 1887) [being an edition-translation of Bethu Pathraic, Rawlinson B 512, with a compilation of other biographical documents on Patrick in the second volume; see extracts]
  • The Most Ancient Lives of Saint Patrick: including the life by Jocelin, hitherto unpublished in America, and his extant writings; illustrated with the most ancient engravings of our great national saint with a preface and chronological table by James O’Leary [Irish fireside library; 7th Edn.] (NY: P. J. Kenedy 1883), iv, 350pp.; 18cm. [Cover-title: All that is known of St. Patrick. - Spine title: Life and legends of St. Patrick.]
  • William Bullen Morris, Ireland and St. Patrick (London & NY: Burns and Oates; Dublin M. H. Gill & Son, 1891) [see extracts].
  • Sylvester L. Malone [PP], Chapters Towards a Life of St. Patrick (Dublin: M. H. Gill 1892), viii, 226pp. [see extracts];0
  • J[ohn] B[agnell] Bury, The Life of St. Patrick and his Place in History (1905).
  • John MacNeill, ‘The Native Place of St. Patrick’ [Paper read at RIA 15 Feb. 1926; Procs. RIA, Vol. 37 [1924-27]), pp.118-40.
  • John Roche Ardill [Rev.], St. Patrick, AD 180 (London: John Murray 1931).
  • Eoin MacNeill, St. Patrick: Apostle of Ireland (London: Sheed & Ward 1934).
  • Mrs. Thomas Concannon [Helena Walsh], St. Patrick: His Life and Mission (London: Longmans, Green & Co. 1931).
  • Oliver St. John Gogarty, I Follow St. Patrick (London: Rich & Cowan 1938), 336pp., with index.
  • John MacNeill, Saint Patrick, ed. John Ryan [S.J.], with a memoir of John MacNeill by Michael Tierney [...] and a bibliography of Patrician literature by F. X. Martin (Dublin: Clonmore & Reynolds 1968), 240pp.
  • Brian de Breffny, In the Steps of St. Patrick (London: Thames and Hudson 1982).
  • Alannah Hopkin, The Living Legend of St. Patrick (NY: St Martin’s Press 1989) [see extract].
  • George Otto Simms, St. Patrick: the Real Story of St. Patrick Who Became Ireland’s Patron Saint (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1991, 1993), ill David Rooney.; Do. [rev. edn.], as The Real St. Patrick (Dublin: O’Brien Press 2004), 96pp.
  • David N. Dumville, Saint Patrick AD 493-1993 (London: Boydell & Brewer 1993) [Boydell Press], 192pp.

[ Note that the distinction between Biography and Commentary applied here for listing convenience is somewhat arbitrary and only warranted by the predominantly narrative manner of the former and the more discursive manner of the latter. ]

  • William Monck Mason, The Catholic Religion of St. Patrick and St. Columbkill (Dublin 1822).
  • William Cathcart, The Ancient British and Irish Churches, including the Life and Labours of St. Patrick (London: Baptist Book Co. 1894), 347pp.
  • Rev. John Ryan, S.J., ‘The Two Patricks’, in Irish Ecclesiastical Record (Oct. 1942), pp.241-52.
  • Ludwig Bieler, The Life and Legend of St. Patrick (Dublin: Clonmore & Reynolds 1949).
  • John Ryan, S.J., ed., St. Patrick [Thomas Davis Lectures] (Radio Éireann 1958) [contribs. James Carney, Mario Esposito, Ludwig Bieler, Seán Mac Airt, Paul Grosjean, S.J.].
  • G. A. Chamberlain, St. Patrick and his World [2nd edn.] (Dublin: APCK 1959).
  • D. A. Binchy, ‘St. Patrick and his Biographers, Ancient and Modern’, in Studia Hibernica (1962) [q.pp.].
  • Tomas O Fiaich, ‘The Beginning of Christianity’, in Moody and Martin, eds., A Course of Irish History (RTE 1967), pp.61-75.
  • R. P. C. Hanson, Saint Patrick: His Origins and Career (Clarendon Press: Oxford 1968), 248pp.
  • Tom Corfe, St. Patrick and Irish Christianity [Cambridge Introduction to the History of Mankind] (Cambridge UP 1973).
  • James Carney, The Problem of St. Patrick (DIAS 1973), 193pp. [see Bibliography, attached.].
  • R[ichard] P[atrick] C[rosland] Hanson [Bishop of Clogher], ‘The Omissions in the Text of the Confession of St. Patrick in the Book of Armagh’, in Elizabeth Livingstone, ed., Studia Patristica, Vol. 12, Pt. I (1975), pp.91-95.
  • Victor & Edith Turner, St Patrick’s Purgatory: Religion and Nationalism in an Archaic Pilgrimage [Image and Pilgriage in Christian Culture] (1978)
  • Richard Sharpe, ‘Palaeographical Considerations in the Study of the Patrician Documents in the Book of Armagh’, in Scriptorium, XXXVI (1982), q.pp.
  • Dáithí Ó hÓgáin, The Hero in Irish Folk History (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1985), pp.1-16 [Chap. 1: ‘The Saint as Hero - Patrick’].
  • Liam de Paor, Saint Patrick’s World: The Christian Culture of Ireland’s Apostolic Age (Blackrock: Four Courts 1993), 335pp.
  • D. R. Howlett, ed., The Letter Book of Saint Patrick the Bishop (Blackrock: Four Courts 1993), 134pp.
  • Cormac Bourke, Patrick, The Archaeology of a Saint (HMSO Ulster Mus. 1994), 72pp. col. ill.
  • Bernadette Cunningham & Raymond Gillespie, ‘“The Most Adaptable of Saints”: The Cult of St. Patrick in the Seventeenth Century’, in Archivium Hibernicum, Vol. 49 (1995), pp.92-93.
  • Lesley Whiteside, St. Patrick in Stained Glass (Dublin: gill & Macmillan 1998), phot. ill. by Paul Larmour.
  • Máire de Paor, PBMV, Patrick the Pilgrim Apostle of Ireland (Dublin Veritas 1998), 323pp. [see Bibliography - as attached.]
  • Bridget McCormack, Perceptions of St Patrick in Eighteenth-century Ireland (Dublin: Four Courts 2000), 128pp.
  • Thomas O’Loughlin, Discovering Saint Patrick [CIP] (London: Darton, Longman & Todd 2005), x, 254pp., ill. [maps].
  • David Howlett, Muirchú Macthéni’s Life of St. Patrick (Dublin: Four Courts Press 2006), 160pp.
  • [...]
  • Marcus Losack, Rediscovering Saint Patrick: A New Theory of Origins (Dublin: Columba Press 2013), 320pp. [claims a Brittany origin for St. Patrick].
General studies

Jean-Michel Picard, ed., Ireland and Northern France a.d. 600-800 (Four Courts Press 1991) [papers to the 1989 Internat. Symp. of Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes, Paris]. This work incls. a chapter by Charles Doherty on the cult of St. Patrick and 7th century politics of Armagh]. Reviewer mentions another writing on Patrick, Tarlach Ó Raifeartaigh, ‘the enigma of St. Patrick’ (in Seanchas Ard Mhacha, 1989) [Irish Literary Supplement, Fall 1992].

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Bibliographical details
[Patrick Lynch], The Life of Saint Patrick, / Apostle of Ireland: / to which is added, / in the original Irish character / (with both a Latin and an English translation) / the Celebrated Hymn / composed above 1200 Years since / by his disciple, Saint Fiech; / comprehending a Compendious History of his Life / annexed is a / Copious Appendix /containing a summary account of the various ecclesiastical Institutions, Orders, Edifices, and Establishments in Ireland, since the introduction of the Christ Religion / also a Chronological Table/of the / Archbishops of Armagh, Dublin, Cashell, and Tuam, from the death of St. Patrick till the present year. / Together with an abstract of Irish Grammar (Dublin: printed by H. Fitzpatrick, No. 4 Capel-Street, Printer and Bookseller to the R. C. College of St. Patrick, Maynooth 1810); entered in Stationers’ Hall. 350pp.

Contents [listed at back]. Claims that St. Patrick was born in Tours, properly Naom (or Neam) Tour, in Armorican Gaul, on the Loire, a.d..373; Consecrated Bishop, and sent on the Irish Mission by Pope Celestine in 433; After 60 years spent in accomplishing the complete conversion of Ireland, d. in the 120 year of his age, Marh 17th, 493; reads ‘Nemthur’ in the Hymn to Fiech [Fiacc], rather than Nempthur, as often translated through error; this author strenuously attests that the bishops of Ireland (R.C.) are in directly line of succession from Patrick, that the Irish Church has always been faithful to Rome and shared its doctrines. CONTENTS, Ireland’s State before Christianity - Ollav Foalla’s legislation - Druidic institutions, civil and religious [3]; Harduin’s eccentricity - Doctor Ledwich’s opinions - Ryves and Maurice’s doubts respecting St. Patrick’s existence - Ledwich’s negative arguments [7]; legendary writings of Joceline - Harris, Ussher, and Cambden’s refelctions thereon - their defence of St. Patrick - Bishop of Asaph’s remarks [12] On the imputation of unnecessary miracles - Catholic divine’s opinion - and disapprobation - Similar tales of St. Columcille [22] Mathematical demonstration - Metaphysical certainty - Historic evidence - Foreign proofs of St. Patrick’s existence, from the twelfth to the sixth century [sic] [27] Irish authors of the first and sixth centuries - St Adamnan - Curious extracts, shewing the state of arts and sciences in Ireland [6] Various opinions respecting his native country, neither Irish, Cornish, Welsh, English, nor Scotch - Dempster’s argument refuted - Scotia major - Joceline - Bede’s - Gildas’s [-] Jerome’s character of the barbarous Britons [59] of St Patrick’s native country - Errors from an ignorance in ancient geography, Empthor, Tabernia, Tyrrhenian sea, Leatha, misundestood by all the modern and ancient translators [72]; Policy of the Irish monarchs in aiding Picts against the Romans - Niall’s invasion of Gaul - St. Patrick taken - Sold as a slave in Ireland - His parents and relations [89]; St Patrick’s infantine age - use and abuse of miracles - Joceline’s ridiculous conduct - His translator and editors - St Patrick’s own account of his infancy [101]; His servitude in Ireland - escape - retaken - enlarged - peregrination to Aremoric Gaul - Italy - His application to study, and progress in literature - Kiaran, Ailve, Declan, Ivar and Palladius before him [109]; Commences his mission - success in Cornwall - He lands on the Wicklow coast - Converts numbers of the chieftains - Queen - King - Fiech - Dubthach, &c. [127]; Visits Taltean - Taltenian Games - Proceeds to Conaught [sic] - Ireland’s exemption from venomous creatures - Donat, of Fesula’s, encomium - Birds - Bees [141]; Success in Connaught - Tiravailgaid Tirconnel - preaching, converting, and building churches - Niall’s son converted - Clogher-church founded [150]; Arrives at Armagh - Lays the foundation of a city there - Synod there - Covners the Isle of Man - Travels through Leinster - Converts Alphin, king of Dublin, and family - Also, Angus, king of Munster - Conference at Cashel with Ailve, Declan, and Ivar [158]; Vindication of the number of churches built by him - Doctor Ledwich refuted - Place of his death, not Armagh, nor Glastenbury, but Down - Courcy’s invasion of Ulster - Translation of St. Patrick’s relics - Deference paid to them by primitive Christians [177]. APPENDIX, Town of Trim - St Macartin - Geographical and ecclesiastical state of the isle of Man [197]; Dublin city - Christ-church - Laurence O’Toole - Canons regular - Tithe Fish - Contest about do. - Priors of - Strongbow’s monument - Two cathedrals in Dublin - Deans of St. Patrick’s - Swift’s epitaph - twenty parish churches, &c. [209]; At Audoen’s church - St. Audoen - St. Michan’s - St Mary’s - ST Olave’s - ST James ... [&c.]; other material includes: William’s Soldiers; Ancient Sanctity and learning of Irishmen - St Bernard’s Testimony; Hymn of Fiech, English trans. [325; for extracts, see under Commentary, infra.]

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See separate file [infra]

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Extracts on this pages ...
“The Confession of Saint Patrick” “Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus”

Extended versions in Ricorso Library, “Irish Classics”
“Confession ... &c. ” “Letter to ... Coroticus”

The Confession of St. Patrick”: ‘I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful, and utterly despised by many. My father was Calpornius, a deacon, son of Potitus, a priest, of the village Bannavem Taburniae; he had a country seat nearby, and there I was taken captive./I was then about sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people - and deservedly so, because we turned away from God, and did not keep His commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought over us the wrath of His anger and scattered us among many nations, even unto the utmost part of the earth, where now my littleness is placed among strangers. /
  And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son […]’ (Trans. by Ludwig Bieler; rep. in Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1.) [For full text version, see RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics”, via index, or direct.)

The Confession of St. Patrick”: ‘Therefore I have long had it in mind to write but have in fact hesitated up till now, for I was afraid to expose myself to the criticism of men’s tongues, because I have not studied like others. / As a youth, indeed almost a boy, without a beard, I was taken captive before I knew what to desire and what I ought to avoid. And so, then, today I am ashamed and terrified to expose my awkwardness, because being inarticulate, I am unable to explain briefly what I mean, as my mind and spirit long to, and the inclination of my heart dictates ... (Confessio, trans. A. B. E. Hood, Phillimore, 1979; quoted in P. J. Kavanagh, Voices in Ireland, 1994, p.4).

The Confession of St. Patrick”: ‘And there I saw in the night the vision of a man whose name was Victoricus, coming as it were from Ireland, with countless letters. And he gave me one of them and I read the opening words of the letter which were “The voice of the Irish” and as I read the beginning of the letter, I thought that at the same moment I heard their voice - they were those beside the Wood of Foclut which is near the Western Sea - and thus did they cry out as with one mouth: “We ask thee, boy, come and walk among us once more”.’ ([Trans Ludwig Bieler;] quoted in Tomás Ó Fiaich, ‘The Beginnings of Christianity’, in The Course of Irish History, ed. T. W. Moody & F. X. Martin, Mercier Press in assoc. with RTé 1967, p.62.)

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Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus” [Epistle to the Subjects of Coroticus]:

Ego Patricius peccator rusticissimus et minimus omnium fidelium et contemptibilis sum apud plurimos patrem habui Calpornum diaconum filium quendam Potiti, filii Odissi presbyteri, quit fuit in vici Bannavem Taberniae.’ (375-380).
Do. [trans. by Ludwig Bieler]: ‘I, Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, resident in Ireland, declare myself to be a bishop. Most assuredly I believe that what I am I have received from God. And so I live among barbarians, a stranger and exile for the love of God. He is witness that this is so. Not that I wished my mouth to utter anything so hard and harsh; but I am forced by the zeal for God; and the truth of Christ has wrung it from me, out of love for my neighbours and sons for whom I gave up my country and parents and my life to the point of death. If I be worthy, I live for my God to teach the heathen, even though some may despise me. / With my own hand I have written and composed these words, to be given, delivered, and sent to the soldiers of Coroticus; I do not say, to my fellow citizens, or to fellow citizens of the holy Romans, but to fellow citizens of the demons, because of their evil works. Like our enemies, they live in death, allies of the Scots and the apostate Picts.’ Dripping with blood, they welter in the blood of innocent Christians, whom I have begotten into the number for God and confirmed in Christ! [...] I ask earnestly that whoever is a willing servant of God be a carrier of this letter, so that on no account it be suppressed or hidden by anyone, but rather be read before all the people, and in the presence of Coroticus himself. May God inspire them sometime to recover their senses for God, repenting, however late, their heinous deeds - murderers of the brethren of the Lord! - and to set free the baptised women whom they took captive, in order that they may deserve to live to God, and be made whole, here and in eternity! Be peace to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.’ (Rep. in Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Derry: Field Day 1991, Vol. 1; see longer extract in RICORSO Library, “Irish Classics”, via index, or direct.)
Unde enim Coroticus cum suis sceleratissimis rebellatores Xpisti ubi se uidebunt. Qui mulierculas baptizatas praemia distribuunt. Ob miserum regnum temporale quod utique in momento transeat. Sicut nubes uel fumus qui utique uento dispergitur ita peccatores fraudulenti a facie Domini peribunt. Iusti autem epulentur in magna constantia cum Xpisto iudicabunt nationes et regibus iniquis dominabunter. In saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Whence, then, Coroticus with his most shameful men, rebels against Christ, where will they see themselves, they who distribute baptized little women as prizes because of a pitiable temporal realm which may indeed pass away in a moment? Just as a cloud or smoke, which indeed is dispersed by the wind, so fraudulent sinners will perish from the face of the Lord. But the righteous will feast in great constancy with Christ. They will judge nations, and they will lord it over unjust rulers for ages of ages. Amen. [19]

—Howlett, Saint Patrick the Bishop, pp.36-37; quoted in Charles Doherty, Kingship In Early Ireland’, in Edel Bhreathnach, ed., Tara: A Study of an Exceptional Kingship and Landscape (Dublin 2005), pp.3-31. .

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Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus”: ‘Is it from me that springs that goodly compassion which I exercise towards that nation who once took me captive, and made havoc of the menservants and maidservants of my father’s house? I was free born according to the flesh; I am born of a father who was a decurion; but I sold my noble rank - I blush not to state it nor am I sorry for the profit of others; in short I am a slave in Christ to a foreign nation for the unspeakable glory of the eternal life which is in Christ our Lord.’ (‘Letter to Coroticus’; quoted in Oliver St. John Gogarty, I follow St. Patrick, 1938, p.42.)

Life of Tirechan: ‘Et quocumque essent aut quacumque forma aut quacumque plebe aut quacumque regione non cognouerunt, sed illos uiros side aut deorum terrenorum aut fantassiam estimauerunt [And they did not know whence they were or of what shape or from what people or from what region, but thought they were men of the other world or earth-gods or a phantom]’. One of the girls:‘Who is God and where is God and whose God is he and where is his dwelling-place? Has your God sons and daughters, gold and silver? Is he ever-living, is he beautiful, have many fostered his son, are his daughters dear and beautiful in the eyes of the men of the earth? Is he in the sky or in the earth or in the water, in rivers, in mountains, in valleys? Give us an account of him; how shall he be seen, how is he loved, how is he found, is he found in youth, in old age?’ Patrick: ‘Our God is the God of all men, the God of heaven and earth, of the sea and the rivers, God of the sun and the moon and all the stars, the God of high mountains and low valleys; God above heaven and in heaven and under heaven, he has his dwelling in heaven and earth and sea and in everything that is in them; he breathes in all things, makes all things live, surpasses all things, supports all things; he illumines the light of the sun, he consolidates the light of the night and the stars, he has made wells in the dry earth and dry islands in the sea and stars for the service of the major lights. He has a son, coeternal with him, similar to him; the Son is not younger than the Father nor is the Father older than the Son, and the Holy Spirit breathes in them; the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are not separate.’ (Quoted by Charles Doherty in ‘Kingship in Early Ireland’, in Tara: A Study of an Exceptional Kingship and Landscape, Edel Bhreathnach, Dublin 2005, pp.3-31, pp.7-8, citing Bieler, Patrician Texts; see alternative presentation under Commentary, infra.)

The Irish Ecclesiastical Record: A Monthly Journal Conducted by a Society of the Clergymen under Episcopal Sanction
[Legend:] “Ut Christiani ita et Romani sitis.” / “As you are children of Christ, so be you children of Rome.” - Ex Dictis S. Patricii, Book of Armagh, fol. 9.
The Record subsisted from Dec. 1864-1968, excepting a period of suspension during 1877-79. Throughout the publication of series 2 & 3 it displayed the above legend on the title page.
Volumes available on internet include: Volume 1 (Feb. 1865); Vol. IX (Dublin: William Kelly, Grafton-Street and Lwr. Ormond-Quay 1873) [imprimatur Cardinal Paul Cullen]; 3rd Series: Vol. 1, 1880 (Dublin: Browne & Nolan, Nassau St. 1881 [sic]) [imprimatur Edvardus archiep. Dub.; Vol. 7 (Dublin: Browne & Nolan 1886) - available at Internet Archive online.
Note: The contents of the 1873 volume are given in order at the end; the contents of the 1886 volume are indexed alphabetically at the commencement [iii]-x.)

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Sundry Quotations
Sayings of St. Patrick: ‘Ecclesia Scotorum, immo Romanorum, ut Christiani ita un Romani sitis, ut decantetur vobiscum oportet omni hora orationis vox illa laudabilis Curie lession. Christe lession. [Church of the Irish! nay, of the Romans! In order that ye be Christians as well as Romans ye must chant in your churches at every hour of prayer that glorious word, Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, [Deo Gratias]’ (Dicta Patricii, fol. 9 ro a; Newport White, 1920, pp.13-14.)

The angel’s advice: St. Patrick’s two angels on meeting Caoilte and hearing his stories, proffered this advice: ‘Dear holy cleric, these old warriors tell you no more than a third of their stories because their memories are faulty. Have these stories written down on poets’ tablets in refined language, so that the hearing of them will provide entertainment for the lords and commons of later times.’ (Dooley/Roe Toronto translation.)

Agallamh Oisin agus Phadraig / Colloquy of Oisin and Patrick’ - Oisin: ‘I have heard music sweeter far / Than hymns and psalms of clerics are; / The blackbird’s pipe on Letterlea, / The Dord Finn’s wailing melody. / The thrush’s song of Gleanna-Scál, / The hound’s deep bay at twilight’s fall, / The barque’s sharp grating on the shore, / Than cleric’s chants delight me more.’ (Quoted in Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature, 1979, p.27.) [Var. known as Accallamh na Senorach.]

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Dictionary of National Biography, orig. Succat; b. Ailclyde, now Dumbarton; captured in raid of Picts and Scots, 389; sold to Miliuc, chieftain of Antrim; six years of bondage; went to Gaul; studied under Martin of Tours; returned to Britain; felt call to preach to Irish; episcopal consecration; landed Wicklow, accompanied by party, 405; hostile reception; proceeded up east coast to Strangford Lough; remained there until he had converted the Ulstermen; journeyed throughout Ireland; founded first missionary settlement nr. Armagh; prob. d. 463; bur. at Armagh acc. St Bernard; works are Epistles, consisting of Confession, the letter to Coroticus, and an Irish hymn (‘all genuine’); early life by Muirchu; all the foregoing tampered with bringing into line with legendary life acc. to which foreign missionary experience delayed his arrival in Ireland to aetat 60 due to influence of later Irish contacts with Canterbury and pretensions to learning.

British Library (1955 Cat.) holds [1] An address to the public, on the expediency of supporting Saint Patrick’s Chapel, Sutton-Street, Soho, etc. [By Arthur O’Leary?]. [London:] Patrick Keating, 1791. pp.11. 8o. [2] Bonny Annie’s Elopement, with the Pursuit and Disappointment. To which are added, The lover’s disappointment. Phillis and Nancy. Saint Patrick’s glory. The contented ruricolist. None so pretty. [Songs]. pp.8. J. & M. Robertson: Glasgow, 1803. 12o. [3] Saint Patrick: a national tale of the fifth century. By an Antiquary [i.e.-Rennie] [...] 3 vol. A. Constable & Co.: Edinburgh, 1819. 12o. [4] Lady Florence Eveleen Eleanore Bell, The Dean of Saint Patrick’s. A play in four acts [...] pp.94. Edward Arnold: London, 1903. 8o. [5] The Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick [...]. A new edition, revised by J. E. L. Oulton [...]. With twenty-nine illustrations [...] pp.xi. 87. Talbot Press: Dublin & Cork, 1940. 8o. [6] The Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick. A history & description of the building, with a short account of the deans [...]. With XXXIII illustrations [...] pp.xii. 88. London, 1903. 8o. [7] My Saint Patrick [...]. Pictures by Richard Bennett [...] pp.243. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.: Boston, New York, 1937. 8o. [8] John Bagnell Bury, The Life of Saint Patrick, and his place in history [...] pp.xv. 404. Macmillan & Co.: London, 1905. 8o. [... &c.; for 97 titles relating to St. Patrick listed in the British Museum Library Catalogue (1955), see attached.]

Hyland Books (Cat. 220) list E. J. Newell, St. Patrick, His Life & Teaching (c.1890); Michael J. O’Farrell, A Popular Life of St. Patrick (NY 1896); also Cat. 224: Chas. H. H. Wright, The Writings of St. Patrick (RTS c.1900).

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Shamrocks: associated by tradition with the shamrock (Trifolium repens and Trifolium dubium) with which he is supposed to have illustrated the doctrine of the Trinity; the red saltire [cross] was the eighteenth century symbol of Ireland, and as such incorporated in English heraldry; a coin with St. Patrick and a shamrock was minted by the Confederation of Kilkenny in 1644.

Pascal fire: The location of site of St. Patrick’s paschal fire (given as Fertae Fer Féic in seventh-century lives) at the Hill of Slane is the result of John O’Donovan’s erroneous endorsement of John Colgan’s conjecture (Triadas Thaum., p.20, ftn. 60), whereas Dr. Charles O’Conor (Rerum Hib.) more logically ascribed it to Trim on the Boyne on the basis of the reference to Síd Truim in the Félire Oengusso. See Cathy Swift, ‘John O’Donovan and the Framing of early Medieval Ireland in the Nineteenth Century’, in Bullán: An Irish Studies Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Spring 1994), pp.97-98. Swift further notes that ‘the association of Tara and the mythical palace of King Loiguire [Laoghaire] is more plausibly to be interpreted as a sign of that site’s political imprtance in the later seventh century than as an indication of the Fertae’s geographical location.’ (Swift, ftn. 17, p.102.)

Novel treatment: Stephen Lawhead, Patrick: Son of Ireland (London: HarperCollins 2003), is a full-length fictional life of Succat, son of a distinguished Roman family who is is kidnapped into slavery and becomes known as Corthirthiac among the Druids, whose novice he becomes before assuming the name of Magonus (famous) and later the ordination-name of Patricius; told in pseudo-archaic English; includes physical details (viz., micturition). See Books Ireland, “First Flush” (April 2003).

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