Vox Hibernia flying over Glendalough, Co. Wicklow. Image: Europeanstamps.net / Public Domain
(…continued from Part 1)
Patricks Origins: In His Own Words
Which brings us (finally!) to the matter at hand. In the light of all the above considerations – what does the historical Patrick actually say about his origins in his own writings? As previously noted, Patrick uses the term ‘Britanniis’ a total of three times. One of those examples is not entirely specific as to his origins, although it does infer the location of his clerical background in later life, and the location where his family apparently pleaded with him not to leave – just prior to his setting off for Ireland. I include here anyway:
Photo credit: -RobW- / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)
A recent exchange in the letters page of the Irish Times concerning the historical (St) Patrick’s origins has compelled me to wade into the mire of modern-day Patriciana. Quapropter olim cogitaui scribere, sed et usque nunc haesitaui…
The exchange originated between Rev. Marcus Losack, a pilgrimage leader and spiritual guide, and Dr Elva Johnston of the School of History & Archives, UCD, Dublin. Rev. Losack, who has been promoting a book on the subject for a while now, took exception to a letter by Dr. Johnston in which she noted flaws within his recent rehashing of an old argument – Patrick being a Breton, from Brittany – as opposed to the historically attested view of his being a Romano-Briton.
‘Ooh La La’
The response by Rev Losack is a tour de force in historical misinterpretation, misappropriation and selective ‘reasoning’. In it, he expresses (in an impressively accomplished display of vaudevillian histrionics) a misplaced ‘sense of dismay and disappointment at the tone of Dr Johnston’s letter’ and castigates her as taking an ‘extremist position’ by ‘refusing to countenance any alternative theory’. He asserts that such a view ‘reflects a certain academic arrogance and authoritarianism which does not do justice to the complexity of the subject’. After then implying that the Royal Irish Academy’s current rendition of a key linguistic term is influential enough to lend favour in some way towards a quasi-national (dare I suggest, illuminati inspired?) academic plot designed to hide the original meaning - he then finishes by channelling the words of that world-renowned heroic denizen of historical accuracy & wisdom, Dan Brown, towards the possibility of the ‘experts in Dublin’ being in error.
Rev Losack is, unfortunately, very much mistaken.
Came across this little ditty last night: a poem by Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, a Christian Roman in the late 4th century AD. He apparently ended up as an ascetic…
This gallery contains 31 photos.
Something a little different today, arising out of a quick onomastic facebook post last week concerning one of the great prehistoric sites of Ireland – the Loughcrew Passage Tomb Complex, Co. Meath. September 22nd, 2013, sees the fall of the … Continue reading
NMS-0B5BB1: Roman finger ring
(PAS/Norfolk County Council CC-BY-SA)
I was very taken with the news yesterday of the recent recovery of a Roman silver disc near Swaffham, Norfolk. The disc (0.46 g, 11 mm) has been interpreted as a bezel and is thought to have been part of a finger ring. It also features ‘a diademed head engraved in intaglio’ with a ‘retrograde and somewhat garbled legend ANTONI VIVAS IN DEO’.
“The formula VIVAS IN DEO is a Christian one, the translation of this inscription being ‘Antonius, may you live in God‘. The fact that the letters are retrograde and engraved in intaglio would have made the bezel suited for use as a signet.”
Such an inscription dates the ring to sometime in the mid-late fourth/possibly early fifth century AD, making it a member of known, but relatively rare British examples of a personal object carrying overt Christian association. The formulaic vivas in deo on such rings has been previously interpreted as perhaps indicating gifts associated with Christian conversion or milestones in life.
Seeing as today the feast day of a certain Irish St. Attracta, here’s a little something about her from Tírechán’s Collectanea which contains the earliest contemporary reference to her cult, a church site dedicated to her and a particular piece of geological info that amazingly still exists today…
Posted in Archaeology, Collectanea, Hagiography, Tírechán
Tagged Archaeology, Christianity, Early Irish Christianity, Hagiography, History, Holy Well, Pilgrimage, Religion
A Long Tail – Image: Rafael Peñaloza/Flickr Commons (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Last night I was reminded, via the Twitter Machine, of a great two-parter written by Christiaan Corlett – this time last year – entitled ‘Lughnasa at St Marcan’s Lough, Clew Bay, Co. Mayo’ (See Part 1 here and Part 2 here). St. Marcan’s Lough is the location of a medieval ecclesiastical site, now almost gone, on the shores of Clew Bay, Co. Mayo. Remains of possibly two churches and a leacht recorded in the 19th & 20th centuries, no longer survive. An altar and holy well (Tober Marcan) show some sign of partial preservation and a cairn/pilgrim station located on the loughs foreshore is still exposed at low tide. A Childrens Burial Ground is depicted in the vicinity along with a crannóg/platform within the Lough itself.
There is considerable Lughnasadh type folklore and traditions associated with the site, with a particular emphasis on cattle being driven in the waters of the lough, originally a freshwater lake (during the first week of August – as a curative or preventative protection/charm) in and around the cairn/monument and holy well. Corletts articles goes into great detail on this and he draws parallels with other similar traditions and accounts of horse/cattle rituals at other suspected Lughnasadh sites in the country.
Posted in Etymology, Placenames
Tagged Archaeology, Church Ruins, Early Irish Christianity, Early Irish Law, Etymology, Folklore, History, Horse, Mayo, Pilgrimage, placenames, St. Marcan
Image: Cremo/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND)
(Updated, Nov 2013: See Below For Details)
Roy Murray, over on Information Agent (his latest ‘reverse’ video for Day of Archaeology is a must see) was kind enough to include this blog in an archaeological themed Liebster Nomination List. To be brutally honest, I tend not to go in for such things – a chain letter is a chain letter, no matter how well its dressed up. It’s a nice idea though, in theory, and no doubt helpful in sharing awareness of others with similar interests. Just not my cup of tea.
However, as his questions are very good and focused on an archaeological theme, (he is a digital vox pop supremo after all) and as I have been meaning to do a post on my existing blog links (as well as updating them), I thought I’d use it as a framework with which to kill two birds. So for what its worth, what follows is a self held, naval glazed magnifying glass type of post. I’m not going to nominate/limit myself to 11 others, or make up any more questions. Feel free to follow links to Roy above or those in the right hand side panel of this page. And should you have an archaeological/heritage type blog and want to have a go at Roys questionnaire, then, by all means, please do.
Cover: Shaun Gallagher / The Columba Press
Brian Lacey, Saint Columba: His Life & Legacy. Dublin: The Columba Press. June, 2013. ISBN: 9781-85607-879-5. 7 + 224 pp.
There is hardly need to stress the historical importance of the figure & cult of St. Columba, long renowned as one of the three patron saints of Ireland who, alongside Brigid and Patrick, was elevated to such a position in the late seventh century AD. Like his co-patrons, his religious and cultural legacy continues to the present day. Brian Lacey, author of the latest book on the subject notes that of the three however, Columba offers us something almost unique. Patrick, whilst also a historical person nevertheless hailed from outside Ireland and the historical figure of Brigid, if there ever was a real person behind the myths and motifs remains out of reach in hazy obscurity. Columba (aka Colm Cille), the later of all three, offers us one of the earliest detectable insular Irish historical personages.
Posted in Early Irish Christianity, Hagiography
Tagged Adomnán, Book Review, Brian Lacey, Early Irish Christianity, Early Medieval Scotland, Hagiography, History, Iona, Pictish Christianity, placenames, St. Columba
Setting Sun, Atlantic Ocean, Ireland (Image: Author)
Seeing as today is the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, I thought I’d share the earliest contemporary historical reference to pagan Irish sun-worship which is found within Patrick’s Confessio, written sometime in the fifth century AD. It occurs at the very climax of the document as Patrick is signing off and declaring his deep Christian faith and belief in his ‘children of the living God and co-heirs of Christ’…