Saint Patrick around Ireland
Other sites associated with St. Patrick:
Ballintubber is seven miles south of Castlebar and is on a pilgrim way called Tochar Phadraig , as a way station for pilgrims heading for Croagh Patrick. St. Patrick did found a Church at Ballintubber in the fifth century. The existing buildings however date from 1216 when the Abbey was founded by King Cathal O’Connor for the Canons regular of St. Augustine. Despite continuous attacks and repression the Abbey has remained open as a place of worship since 1216.
Croagh Patrick was a sacred place long before the arrival of Christianity. It was regarded by the ancient Celts as the home of Crom Dubh and was the principal site for the harvest festival of Lughnasa and fertility. Consequently, women visited the summit to encourage fertility. Early Christian stories had St. Patrick spending 40 days and nights on the summit banishing snakes, dragons and pagan demons. Consequently , the Croagh Patrick pilgrimage was originally carried out during Lent , but following a wild storm which killed 30 pilgrims , the pilgrimage period was changed to summer , with the most popular days being the last Friday and Sunday in July. Currently , it is estimated that almost one million pilgrims do the climb each year with as many as 40,000 making the trek on the last Sunday in July, often barefoot as penance.
Hill of Slane
The ruins on the top of the hill of Slane in County Meath are mainly 16th Century dating from when a Church and College were built here. However, the site has Christian associations going back to the time of St. Patrick. It is here that Patrick and his band of followers built and lit a fire in 433 AD which was easily seen from Tara, where the High King of Ireland lived, with all of his courtiers and the Druids who attended the Royal family. There was a strict ruling that no fire should be lit before the one at Tara, to celebrate the Festival of Beltaine, which marked the coming of Spring. Patrick knew exactly what he was doing, knowing his action would lead to him being brought to face the king.
Patrick waited with his men until a group of Laoghaire’s men arrived on the scene and escorted him to Tara. Once there, although the Druids tried everything they could to discredit him Patrick prevailed against them despite their worst efforts. Laoghaire was so impressed with Patrick’s bravery and forthrightness that he gave him permission to preach his new religion throughout the land under his protection.
Station Island in Lough Derg, Co. Donegal, has been a centre of pilgrimage since at least the 12th century and was famous throughout Euope even from that time. There are still Pilgrims who visit the Church on the Island and perform the penitential Stations while fasting and praying over a 3 day period. Local legend has it that the Lake is Dearg or red – reddened by the blood of the last serpent in Ireland which St. Patrick reputedly slew here. Other sources claim it was Lough Deirc or the Lake of the cave. There was a cave on Station Island which was the focal point of pilgrimages until 1780 when a small chapel was built. The Church has expanded over the years to accommodate the growth in the number of pilgrims.
Rock of Cashel
Cashel, in County Tipperary, is home to one of Ireland's great historical sites - the Rock of Cashel, which was once the seat of the Kings of Munster. It was visited by St. Patrick in 450. He preached here at the royal fort and converted Aengus, King of Munster. One story describes that while Patrick was baptising Aengus the spike of his crozier went through the King’s foot. Aengus bore with the painful wound in silence. At the end of the ceremony, Patrick noticed the wound and asked Aengus why he had not spoken up. Aengus replied that he thought it was part of the ceremony. Brian Boru was crowned King of Ireland here in the tenth century. During the twelfth century, the Rock became the seat of the archbishop and it was at this time that Cormac's Chapel was built. In 1647 the Rock was ransacked by Cromwellian forces under the leadership of Lord Inchiquin. Today the impressive stone walls enclose a round tower, the cathedral, a twelfth century romanesque chapel, high crosses and other structures. The gothic cathedral dates back to the thirteenth century. At the entrance to the Rock is a fifteenth century house which has been recently restored which holds a museum with a number of interesting exhibits, including silverware and St. Patrick's Cross.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin
Saint Patrick on his journey through Ireland is said to have passed through Dublin. In a well close to where the cathedral now stands, he is reputed to have baptised converts from paganism to Christianity. To commemorate his visit, a small wooden church was built on this site, one of the four Celtic parish churches in Dublin. In 1191, under John Comyn, the first Anglo-Norman archbishop of Dublin, Saint Patrick's was raised to the status of a cathedral and the present building, the largest church in the country, was erected between 1200 and 1270. Over the years , it fell into disrepair but between 1860 and 1900 a full-scale restoration based on the original design, was carried out .Saint Patrick's has contributed much to Irish life throughout its long history. The writer and satirist Jonathan Swift was dean from 1713 - 45. However, St. Patrick’s is not a museum. It is a living, working Church.
Slemish Mountain, the first known Irish home of St. Patrick is in Co. Antrim. The mountain rises about 1500 feet (437 metres) above the surrounding plain, and it is actually the central core of an extinct volcano. Following his capture and being brought as a slave to Ireland, Patrick worked as a shepherd at Slemish Mountain for about six years, from ages 16 through 22, for a man named Milchu (or Miluic). It was during this time that Patrick turned to frequent prayer as his only consolation in his loneliness. In a vision he was encouraged to escape and return home. He did, became a priest and returned to convert the Irish. The rest is history. His own real conversion took place while on Slemish out in all weathers communing with nature and praying continuously. Slemish Mountain is open year-round, and on St. Patrick's Day large crowds hike to the top of the mountain as a pilgrimage.