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Published by Rodney Mackay

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Published by: Rodney Mackay on Mar 27, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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P, pin, a chip of stone for filling crevices in a wall; a dwarfelder. The letter “p” was not found in pre-Christian Ogham.Words beginning with this letter are derived from otherlanguages.PADRUIG, PARUIG,per form PARA, OIr. Patrice, said fromLatin Patricius, a patrician, Saint Patrick. nickname Parafor Gillephadruig, MG. Gillapadruig, Ir. Pádraig,Gillaphátraice, OIr. Patrice, Lat. Patricius, a patrician.Hence Mac-phatrick, Fitz-patrick, Paterson.Not a handsome man, Saint Patrick was probably not asingle individual, but the sum of several early Christianmissionaries. It is said that he was born in the Severndistrict of western Britain in 390 A.D., the son of a Romanadministrative official, hence his nickname "the patrician."The "plebes" of Britain associated all of their rulers with"frogs" from their propensity to be always "croaking" aboutmatters of little interest or importance.When Patrick was sixteen he was taken as hostage ina raid by the Irish king Niall of the Nine Hostages, who soldhim to a farmer named Milcho. After six years of slavery, heescaped to the Continent. There he learned passable Latin,became an ordained priest and was ultimately named bishopto the Irish. In 432 he returned there with twenty-fourcompanions, landing on the Wicklow coast, wheremissionaries had already been repulsed. Received with thesame courtesy Patrick retaliated by magically convertingKing Nathy's domain into a salt marsh. His party thencruised up the coast, finally landing at Strangford Lough,
County Down.The local chieftain at that place, one named Dichu wasas antagonistic, but when he lifted his sword, Patrick"pointed him out," and he found his arm suddenly paralyzed,and quickly reconsidered adopting the Christian faith. Atthat Patrick restored him to full health and the princepresented him with a barn and property which the youngpriest turned into his first church. Patrick understood thathe could not dominate the people if he failed to convincetheir lords, so he travelled next to Tara to meet withLaoghaire ard-righ, the successor to Niall of the NineHostages. To reach Tara, the missionaries passed into themouth of the river Boyne and walked to the green valleys ofMeath, places rich in associations with the old gods. Theriver itself was considered a personification of Boann, wifeof the ancient god Dagda. At Newgrange he passed the burialmounds of the three sons of Dagda.Knowing something of the pagan religion he timed hisarrival near Tara for the eve of Beltane, which theChristians reckoned as Holy Saturday (the day before Easteron that particular year). On the Beltane Eve it wastraditional that all fire be extinguished so that "new fire"could be ritually created. On that very night, Patrick andhis men set a blaze of their own at Slaine, on the left bankof the Boyne.Seeing the fire from his court, Laoghaire demanded toknow what individual had defied tradition. His frighteneddruids were forced to consider that this person might be theultimate enemy of their faith. This man, they said, is verydangerous, "and unless the fire on that hill is extinguishedthis very night, then its fire will outshine all the fires welight, and his kingdom will overrule our kingdom."A splendidly determined pagan, the king instructed histroops to extinguish the fire, but these men were repulsedby magic and unable to carry out this demand. The druids,themselves, lay in ambush at dawn, but as the missionaries
walked in orderly procession towards Tara, Patrick ledthem in the chanting of the faed fiada (which see) whichmade them appear to their foes as a stag leading a bevy ofdoes. In an attempt to awe the foreigners,Laoghaire called his court into full session, butPatrick made such a remarkable entry that Dubthach, theking's chief poet, rose in respect, as did a young noblenamed Erc (later converted and made Bishop Erc). Thedruids immediately attempted to subjugate Patrick bythrowing down their staffs, which reformed themselvesinto attacking snakes, but Patrick threw his own staff tothe floor and it became a huge snake which voraciouslygobbled up the others. Impressed, if not inwardly swayed,Loaghaire promised tolerance for Patrick's mission and thisopened the way for conversions throughout Meath.Patrick made a great point of appearing at the knownsites of pagan worship, daring the early gods to do theirworst. This adversarial approach to religious mattersdrew large crowds of people seeking entertainment. On thecircuit in western Ireland, Patrick was opposed by druidswho drew down a cloud of fog over the land, but he waved itaside noting, "they know how to gather darkness, but havenot the means to spread light!"Perhaps at this time he is said to have magicallytoppled the gold statue of Crom Cruach, burying his circle ofstone followers to their necks in the earth. In County Mayohe is supposed to have driven the "poisonous reptiles" fromall of Ireland, but in fac the island never harboured any ofthese species after glaciation, being completely cut offfrom other places by the sea.In his circuit he was careful to befriend people in allof society and understood the advantages of patronage,giving generous gifts to his closest allies. Patrick thoughtthat his role as bishop of the Church demanded that hetravel regally in order to attract the notice of men inpower. His generous life-style was looked on askance by

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