HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

Before, however, we go with Patrick to Tara, it is essential to get an idea of the national and social life of the men of Erin at the time, for otherwise we could not understand the marvellous narrative of all the strange things that took place at Tara. Here was to be the crisis of Patrick’s career, and the turning-point of Ireland’s history.

In a previous passage, explaining how Patrick was so badly received in Wicklow, the Tripartite gives a brief sketch of the political state of the Kingdom:—

At that time there was a certain fierce heathen King in Erin, namely, Laeghaire, son of Niall, and in Tara was his residence and royal stronghold. It was in the fifth year of the reign of this Laeghaire, son of Niall, that Patrick came to Erin.

After some chronological data, it adds:—

This cruel king there had wizards and enchanters who used to foretell by their wizardry and heathenism what was before them. Locthru and Lucat-mael, that is Lucat the Bald, were the chiefs of them, and the chief professors of this art of false prophecy. They foretold that a prophet of evil law was coming over the sea to Erin, that many would receive him, and that he would find love and veneration with the men of Erin, and that he would drive the (pagan) kings and lords out of their realms, and would destroy all the images of the idols, and that the new law which he would bring should abide in Erin for ever. Two or three years before Patrick’s arrival this was what they used to prophesy:—

“Bare-pole will come over the wild sea,

His mantle hole-headed, his staff crook-headed,

His altar in the east of his house,

And all his family shall answer

Amen. Amen.”

The Irish of this prophecy is given in all the Lives of the Saint with more or less accuracy, and, no doubt, it states what even human prudence could foresee at the time. The Druids were not ignorant of what was happening in Britain and Gaul; they were expecting Palladius and they were expecting Patrick, for they had ample means of hearing of their intended coming. Their knowledge of contemporaneous events elsewhere told them what would surely happen in Ireland, if the new priest succeeded in effecting a landing, and the poetic description of the Christian Bishop and his ritual was what anyone could have seen who had ever crossed to the opposite coast of Wales.

Their purpose was to keep their own power and prestige as long as possible, and hence they bound up the fate of the Kings of Erin with the fate of their Druids, and sought by every means in their power to rouse them to fierce anger against the foreign missionaries, with a view of excluding them entirely from Ireland, or, if not, of destroying them as soon as possible after their landing.

In pursuance of this purpose they had induced the King to persuade his son-in-law, Nathi, King of the Hy Garrchon, to exclude both Palladius and Patrick from his territory, and he had done so. But, in the North Laeghaire had little or no influence, and so the Ulster chiefs received Patrick with welcome and became his disciples. Still, at the same time, the well-meaning Dichu told Patrick that if he hoped to convert the men of Erin generally he must go to Tara and meet the King and his Druids face to face. If he conquered them, all would be easy, but if he failed there, he could not win Erin to be the Kingdom for Christ. It is certain that Patrick, too, came with that conviction in his mind to the Boyne’s Mouth, and it is the real key to his subsequent conduct. He had to meet not only the ‘fierce, cruel King,’ but also his Druids, Bards, and Brehons, face to face, and conquer them or die—they would show him no mercy, and he knew it well.

King Laeghaire himself was a formidable foe. He was the eldest son of the great Niall of the Nine Hostages, and he had inherited much of the spirit, if not of the ability, of his mighty sire. Moore describes Niall as one of the most gallant of all the princes of the Milesian race; and Dr. Joyce, a far better authority, justly calls him ‘one of the greatest, most warlike, and famous of all the ancient Irish kings,’ King Dathi, his nephew, of the Connaught lineage, succeeded Niall in A.D. 405, and Laeghaire, the son of Niall, succeeded Dathi in 428. Hence, we can understand why it is said that in the fifth year of King Laeghaire—that is, in 432—Patrick came to Ireland.

Niall the Great had a large family, whose power had not disappeared in Erin. Four of his sons settled in Meath and became the ancestors of the southern Hy Neill, and we shall meet them later on; four settled in Ulster, where they won their broad acres by the sword. The Hy Neill of Ulster became in later ages the most illustrious princes of Erin, as they were the last who fought with skill and valour for her independence.

King Laeghaire belonged to the southern Hy Neill, and his brothers of the same stock held under their dominion all the royal lands of the principality of Tara, from the Shannon to the eastern sea, and southward to the Boyne. Laeghaire, as a civil ruler, appears to have been just and brave, but not on the same level as his mighty sire. He was an obstinate pagan, and although, for appearance sake, he ‘yielded to Patrick,’ he never became a true Christian, but died, as he had lived, a pagan in soul and spirit.






This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: Sicarr




Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com