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March 17, 2006

The Girls of Dublin Town
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:25 PM * 43 comments

‘Twas on the 17th of March
We entered New York bay
And the captain being an Irishman
Would celebrate the day.

Hurrah, hurrah,
The girls of Dublin town
For the saucy Shenandoah flies
The harp without the crown

Saint Patrick (Patricius, in Old Irish spelled Pádraig) was a nickname, because he was a noble Roman — a patrician. He was captured by the Irish in his youth, and spent six years in Ireland as a slave, learning the Irish tongue and coming to an understanding of the ways of God.

St. Patrick was an Irishman
He came of decent people

Way, haul away
We’ll haul away, Joe

He built a church in Dublin town
And then he built a steeple

Way, haul away
We’ll haul away, Joe

Before Patrick, it was assumed that slavery was one of the natural conditions of mankind. Slavery is mentioned in the Bible without condemnation; it is codified in the laws of the ancient world. “Count no man happy until he is dead,” the Greek Solon, law-giver of Athens, said to Croesus, and Croesus (once a king famous for his wealth) recalled it later when he was a slave to Cyrus the Persian.

Patrick, perhaps due to his experiences as a slave, perhaps due to inspiration from God, declared that slavery was, always and everywhere, a moral wrong.

St. Patrick was an engineer
He was, he was,
St. Patrick was an engineer,
He was, he was
St. Patrick invented the monkey wrench
To screw the lawyers to the bench
And we’ll all drink stone blind
Johnny fill up the bowl

The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in America was held in Boston in 1737 by a Protestant group, the Charitable Irish Society of Boston. The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held in New York City in 1762 by Irish troops in the British army.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York (cornerstone laid 1858) is the seat of the Archbishop of New York. The marble scraps from the building of St. Patrick’s were bought by John Matthews, the soda fountain king, to produce carbon dioxide for his artificially-carbonated beverages.

Hail St. Patrick! Hail John Matthews!

The rotten potatoes would poison the cats
And the barn where me bed was was swarming with rats
The fleas would have frightened the fearless Saint Pat
Who banished the snakes o’er the border.

St. Patrick is credited with converting the Irish, with cleansing the snakes from Ireland, and with using the shamrock to explain the doctrine of the Trinity. The story about the snakes probably isn’t true.

John Matthews made soda water popular and cheap. And there was a slavery, and Irish, connection. While Matthews had competitors, they had trouble with gas explosions. Not John! He had, as his secret, an ex-slave:

The safety valve was an ex-slave named Ben Austen, one of the earliest employees, a man of intelligence and, above all, strength. When the force of a new batch of soda water needed measuring, the job fell to Ben, who simply placed his powerful thumb over the pressure cock. When it blew his thumb away, the Matthews people estimated they had reached 150 pounds and that the water was fully charged. “Ben’s Thumb” was long a term in the jargon of the trade. During the Civil War draft riots, when angry Irish mobs roamed the New York streets seeking to hang any Negro they could find, Matthews was obliged to ship Ben out to safety in a packing case, as though he were a tank of the product.

John Matthews is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, not far from Casa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on The Girls of Dublin Town:
#1 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 12:53 PM:

St Pat's day, California style: tamales and baklava (neither green) at work. There will be a parade a bit later here downtown, but it's damp out today and the crowds may be discouraged.

#2 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:12 PM:

The story about the snakes probably isnít true.

Allow me to inject some crass commercialism into the occasion.

I celebrated the day with the yearly pint of Guinness (I'll drink it at other times, but I do try to have some today if I can't get the good stuff) though this is the first time I've had it in an African pub. Not that it looked African from the outside, but that's what the menu listed. I also got a "St Patrick's Party Token" (collect four and trade them in for a party hat and three badges), but one-quarter of a party hat is really no good to me.

I'll quite likely dig out my copy of The Rising of the Moon later, too, though I don't have a proper campfire to sing this one around.

#3 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:16 PM:

Thanks, Jim! I love how this entry illuminates both St. Pat's, Irish and US history. May I copy it to the mailing list I've created for my upcoming trip to Ireland? It would be a nice companion to my patient explanation that the Republic of Ireland does not have a Queen.

I'm celebrating by listening to Gaelic Storm and Great Big Sea - not strictly Irish, but close enough. Maybe I'll have a bit of Jameson's in my coffee later on.

#4 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:18 PM:

"For the saucy Shenandoah files / The harp without the crown"

"Files"? While I love the images this conjures up ó whether of someone assiduously sharpening the corners of a harp so it has crown-like points, or of an office worker carefully storing the harp in a filing cabinet under "H" ó I suspect you meant "flies."

#5 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:36 PM:

Could "files" be meant in the "rank and file" sense? A column?

#6 ::: Neil ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:42 PM:

Hey, the "slavery" of the Bible is clearly our "indenture", with very strong rights for the "slave".

While you're at it, "remember when you were [real] slaves in the land of Egypt, the house of bondage," is one of the most repeated phrases/admonitions. One of the really radical novelties in "the Law" is that it applies to "the stranger within your gates." That is, respect and decent behavior are universal, not just for fellow of the tribe or clan membars.

But I'm so (otherwise) focused on the new job (H*O*O*R*A*Y*) that I hadn't noticed that I'm supposed to be wearing green today. Since I don't drink anyway, I can safely say, have another green one for me!

#7 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 01:59 PM:

nerdycellist -- use at will, with a link-back if you please.

All: I've fix'd the typo.

#8 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 02:06 PM:

That I am wearing green today of all days means I need to do laundry.

I hardly drink at all and I don't really understand loud noisy drunken parties. Tried them, they're not for me. That's part of what makes me unique, and yes, I'm aware that it borders on Aspergers. So be it. I earn a good living and am content.

The only time I've been in a bar on St Paddy's day I was paid to be there as part of the band.

That we celebrate the Irish at all is to my way of thinking, a good thing. But I don't approve of the way we do it here in America.

As I say to any who'll hear: With a name like Paddy O'Connor, I hardly have to wear green to prove I'm Irish, now do I?

#9 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 02:13 PM:

The only thing I find less pleasant that loud noisy drunken parties are twits who insist I ain't normal for not liking loud noisy drunken parties.

I'm wearing all black today, which is what I do every Friday. Company tradition.

* * *

Warren Ellis' take on St.P'sD gave me a laugh:

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 03:18 PM:

What does a saucy fly do, compared to the usual buzzing kind that says in a tiny voice "helpmehelpmeI'mPhilippe" ?

#11 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 03:59 PM:

Patrick's name in Old Irish is Pátraic. He was a Romano-British Celt, and spoke a Brythonic language, similar to Welsh. He was probably not from Scotland or near Hadrian's Wall (earlier suggestions). Current favorites for the location of his native village of Bannaven Taberniae, where his father Calpurnius was a deacon, are somewhere in Cumberland, the valley of the Severn, or the island of Anglesy, or North Hampton. Cumberland is the current leading contender. This could change; it's a bone of contention between two schools of Patrick scholarship.

The thing about the snakes is only in late Anglo-Norman pseudo biographical saints lives of the 12 and 13th centuries. It isn't mentioned in the Old Irish or Latin lives of Patrick. Ireland has never had, as far as anyone can tell, snakes. The island was already famous in 200 C.E. for lacking snakes (though nadders/ adders were there), and described thusly by the Latin geographer Solinus.

The thing that's always interested me about Patrick is that as a slave (an ecconomic institution in Ireland long after he died) he worked as a pig herder. Pig herders in Celtic mythology are known to be inspired people, people who have visions and do intertesting odd things; they tend to be poets, for instance. It's worth remembering that Bede tells us Caedmon was a herdsman.

#12 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 04:04 PM:

And tomorrow we will have our big St. Paddy's day here in Jackson. Basic info here. The big part of this is the descent of the Sweet Potato Queens (and imitators) on the town, so at that point the men folk hide and they lock up the liquor.

Not really. The liquor stores and bars lay in extra stores and some of the men folk get ready. Others take fishing trips.

#13 ::: Erinya ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 04:48 PM:

Actually, the way I heard it, the "snakes" St. Patrick drove out of Ireland were really Druids, to whom the serpent was a symbol of wisdom. Not sure about the accuracy of this interpretation or the historical details, though.

#14 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 05:33 PM:

Re: the snakes being druids . . .

The Anglo-Norman texts I've read tie the snakes directly to Eden and Satan; nothing druidical about it. I think it's likely a Neo Pagan after thought rationale, perhaps inspired by the snake imagery in some texts and carvings, usually identified as twisted serpents and rams's horn images.

Most of the Irish historically seem to have converted quite peacefully, in Ireland, anyway. The reference to druids vs. Patrick are late, and are narrative. The data from genealogies and names of priests suggests that there was a sort of easy conversion between druid scholar/priests and Christian scholar/priests. It wasn't until later that variation in religious practices began to cause wars.

#15 ::: O'Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 05:49 PM:

Slainte, Jim, thank you so much for the wonderful post to help me celebrate my heritage today.

#16 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 05:54 PM:

I was interested to read of Diane Duane's hobbyhorse, namely that corned-beef-&-cabbage is not a traditional dish in Ireland, despite its popularity for celebrating St. Pat's feast in North America.

Oh, well. It's Friday anyway.

#17 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 05:56 PM:

The thing that's always interested me about Patrick is that as a slave (an ecconomic institution in Ireland long after he died) he worked as a pig herder. Pig herders in Celtic mythology are known to be inspired people, people who have visions and do intertesting odd things; they tend to be poets, for instance. It's worth remembering that Bede tells us Caedmon was a herdsman.

Rather like shepherds in Israel (one famous one being the son of a carpenter* and another famous one being more famous for bringing down a man with a sling). Same thing - looking after grazing animals is a necessary job that you need someone to do (and that you can't leave to an idiot) but that provides a lot of time to do other things such as read and think unless you need to fend off a wolf or rescue one of your animals from somewhere (which is why you can't let the villiage idiot do it).

* Look at his teachings. How many times does he use shepherd metaphors and how many does he use carpentry metaphors. He was therefore unlikely to be a carpenter...

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 06:35 PM:

Say, Bill, Duane's survey of Irish cuisine sounds like the stuff in Quebec. I'm still amazed that my mom's meals didn't turn my arteries into sludge-encrusted pipes. (And she kept shovelling some of it my way when I went there in 2004... That'll teach me to take 9 years between visits.)

#19 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 06:39 PM:

Oh, well. It's Friday anyway.

When I was growing up in the Archdiocese of New York, we always had a special dispensation from the Lenten fast for St. Patrick's Day.

#20 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 06:51 PM:

The Los Angeles diocese has the special dispensation to eat meat - St. Patrick is also the patron saint of the LA diocese.

#21 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 07:00 PM:

Ahh yes. Another Amateur Night, where inappropriate things such as beer and rivers are dyed green. This results in, amongst other eldritch horrors, interesting stains the next day.

I wouldn't hate this day so if the Irish celebrated it. It's all the drunks that ruined it for me -- much like NYE and Mardi Gras. Le Sigh.

I did, for once, refrain from wearing my "Bite me, I'm Scandanavian" button, so there's something.

#22 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 07:08 PM:

Both the presiding clerics of Kansas and Missouri gave dispensation for eating meat today.

We skipped the ginormoous parade (The Irish honor Disney was the theme? WTF?).

Margene's Irish dance troupe doing performances at a group home for disabled adults and at a church.

We ate lunch all together at an Applebee's and watched the parade on on a TV set in our section. Woot. Our parade now has balloons a la Macy's parade. EEEEEK, St. Patrick three stories high! Run for your lives! (someone suggested the crozier he was carrying needed to have a water sprinkler in it and a handler to jerk on a cord to dispense said water onto the crowds.)

There was another gig but the three of us (Jim, Margene and I), hied to McBride's pub where our favorite local Irish singer, Bob Reeder, performed from 2-4. Had dinner there, had a couple of beers, then hied ourselves home.

That way we're off the road for amateur night. Kind of like we spend New Years at a party that's an overnighter or stay at home. Much safer.

#23 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 07:40 PM:

It's struck me that commemmorating St Patrick's Day is a peculiarly diasporic practice. Here in Melbourne, the wearing and drinking of the green usually makes the news, as the heartwarming before-we-go story at the end - it even edged out the Commonwealth Games. It seemed to be big in Chicago, too (singing: dye me a river, dye me a river, etc), but the Irish-from-Ireland seem a bit boggled by the whole thing. My Dad was more Irish than the Irish, being of Irish heritage, so we have a party in his honour each year, with as little green as we can manage, a lot of singing and food and some drinking.

#24 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 08:48 PM:

Patrick Connors, I'm wearing green for the exact same reason. I'd forgotten it was green beer day until the news came on at 4pm. I wear this outfit about once a week anyway, so it's just chance and the laundry that had me put it on today.

#25 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 09:26 PM:

Sam -- what a ... fascinating ... filk; they rewrote the verses but not the choruses of the \first/ Lensman fight song, making nonsense. (The one bearing that title just below it is new enough that I was producer at its premiere.)

#26 ::: Diane Duane ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 09:33 PM:

(peering out from under the covers) Is The Day That's In It over yet? Can I come out and talk about Belgian food now? :)

#27 ::: Geri Fitzgerald Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 09:38 PM:

I sport green every day -- it's the color of my eyes. When I was younger, I perhaps took a bit too much snotty satisfaction in pointing that out to anyone asking where my green was on this day.

On March 17, 1992, I was in Norn Iron, visiting Walter and Madeleine Willis. They offered me a "traditional St. Patrick's Day dinner": take-away pizza, letting me choose my preferred toppings. They approved my decision to pass on the peaches listed on the toppings menu, agreeing with me that peaches on pizza didn't sound in the least bit traditional, even for the Irish.

I've wondered what the pizza would have tasted like ever since. If I ever make it back to Donaghadee, I'll have to see if the pizza place is still in business, and if peaches are still on the menu. IF they are, I'll find out.

#28 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 10:43 PM:

Geri, I've always pretty much looked at people who go "Are you actualy Irish" was "yes I am." Since we went there this last summer and I actually saw for the first time in my life people walking on the street that Looked Like Me. I'm positive that that's my identification. I'm adoped and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. It felt all at once odd and comforting. My mom's family (the one I''ve got most contact with) is Cherokee/Anglo. My dad's is apparently German/Hispanic. Pretty funny for some value of funny.

#29 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: March 17, 2006, 11:33 PM:

According to Anna, St. Patrick's is a bid deal in Dublin, but then Halloween is now a big thing among Italian children and I for one am all for them having a good time.

Here in London, they had St. Patrick last Sunday. Which is probably a good idea because today was a miserable, miserable day, and all the little flags with their little shamrocks were snapping miserably in the icy wind and the green banners were mostly flat against the nearest wall and unreadable. Not that this doesn't make it a good day to gather into a warm pub and drink yourself silly, but that's the done thing in London on a Friday anyway.

My neighbourhood used to be Irish and Jew, now it's mostly Asian (for British values of Asians, i.e., Muslims). There are a couple of pubs hanging on, but if there's been any excitment there, it's been well hidden.

#30 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 12:56 AM:

Well, the day is over now, but I'm still wearing a green t-shirt. Dark green, under a black sweatshirt, since I spent all day in the theater running the light board for a high school band competition. No time for a drop of beer of any color.

If the Bishop of Columbus saw fit to grant a dispensation, I didn't hear about it and didn't particularly care. I like fish better than corned beef any day of the year.

My mother was an O'Mahoney and hers an O'Connor. My Hungarian father used to sometimes wear a shirt saying "Pray for me; my wife's Irish".

So if my mother was a mick and my father was a hunky, am I a hick or a monkey?

#31 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 01:15 AM:

I'd understood that Patrick was a Saxon named Sacath, and that he was given the name Patricius so they could pretend he was of noble birth, so they could let him lead the mission (the previous mission having disappeared without a trace).

#32 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 02:09 AM:

I suspect, Xopher, that you're jesting.

There weren't Saxon settlements in Britain during Patrick's era, to the best of my knowledge. (Cunliffe's cemetary list has the first one dated to the beginning of the seventh century, and it's only seven graves.) One text, I think either the Bethu/tripartite life (I'll look it up on Monday, if anyone's curious) or the Accallam says that Patrick's Brythonic name was Succat. If Heather Rose Jones is reading this, perhaps she'll tell us if the name is otherwise attested; I don't think it is.

#33 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 02:46 AM:

Well, Patrick's dates are somewhat uncertain, but he was born somewhere around the time Rome pulled out of Brittania and the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Franks, and Friesians started rolling in. The way I read it was that he was most likely a somewhat Romanized Briton. By the 7th century the Anglo-Saxons etc. had been in Britain a couple of centuries; during this century most of them were converted to Christianity.

#34 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 03:22 AM:

I wore green, yesterday (Korea being a trifle ahead) because my duty uniform is covered in it.

I had to go to Taegu on Thursday because the Class 6 here didn't have any Guinness (though it came in on Friday).

I'll be celebrating quietly, in the Passover Tradition of doing it twice, so I don't miss it.

I happen to think Guinness is Divine Broth, so it's not a special occiastion to drink it, but rather a minor observance.

As for the Corned Beef and Cabbage, I suspect it to be a back-formation of memory. Salt-beef and boiled vegetables being inexpensive in the new country of the states, and the young'uns not knowing that mother's cooking wasn't traditional.

In any event, it's a quiet day here at Cp. Carrol, on the northern edge of what was the Pusan Pocket.


#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 07:19 AM:

Can I come out and talk about Belgian food now?

Sure. What is Belgian food (if not its cuisine) like?

#36 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 09:46 AM:

Emmet keeps saying he'd to wear snakeskin to work on St. Patrick's, only he doesn't have any snakeskin.

I really like the Irish stories about St. Patrick converting, or failing to convert, various ancient heroes who had popped out of the Otherworld for the purpose. (One has to admire Oisin saying he'd rather be in Hell with Finn than in Heaven without him.) But my favourite St Patrick story is Waiting for the Thursday Boat, which I believe I could probably still recite.

#37 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 09:56 AM:

Speaking of ancient Irish heroes, see "The Final Fighting of Fion MacCumhaill" by Randall Garrett (sadly, tragically, never reprinted so far as I'm aware).

That's Finn MacCool and the Fianna fighting their way out of Hell. It has one of the most wonderful lines: "Meaning no disrespect," said he, meaning all the disrespect in the world.

#38 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2006, 10:18 AM:

JDM - I forgot about the special dispensation for St. Patrick's Day, and even had a conversation with a co-worker about the difficulty posed by the work cafeteria serving Corned Beef and Cabbage yesterday. (Which wasn't bad for cafeteria food. They even had whole-wheat soda bread.)

I don't know if the local diocese (Seattle) offers such a dispensation, though. Their webpage didn't say anything about one.

My co-worker then proceeded to whack himself in the forehead because he had eaten bacon at breakfast because his wife (who's out of town) usually keeps track of that sort of thing for him. He's from Venezuela, so he has that sort of relaxed observance that Catholics from overwhelmingly Catholic countries tend to have. He did remember to do the Ash Wednesday thing, though.

#39 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 12:38 PM:

Serge: Belgian cooking is wonderful, but it owes some of its greatness to Belgian beer; the Belgians are as serious about beer for drinking as the French are about wine, and make similarly good use of it in cooking. I will be interested to see what Diane particularly favors; I remember the emince de veau from Xmas a year ago (a friend does a holiday dinner featuring one country's cuisine, although this time he cheated a bit because he likes roesti -- which I thought improved by having been cooked in the fat from the Belgian goose).

#40 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 04:05 PM:

Salt-beef and boiled vegetables being inexpensive in the new country of the states, and the young'uns not knowing that mother's cooking wasn't traditional.

Well, boiled meat and boiled vegetables was pretty typical of Irish cuisine, if my experience (Irish mother, lots of visits, living in Ireland last year) is anything to go by. I'd never heard of "corned beef and cabbage" as a specific dish, though, before this week.

(Ah yes: having looked at Diane Duane's account, I can see how it comes out of the bacon joint recipe, which was definitely a favourite dish of my mother's. It never occurred to me that it was Irish, though. But then, it never really registered with me that Catholics were a minority in the UK until I went away to college.)

I'm also a little amused by the wearing of green in the US. I don't remember that specific tradition in the Irish diaspora in the UK, or in Ireland itself for that matter. But there are actual Irish here who can correct me on that.

Which is not to say that is somehow 'wrong' or inauthentic when it's done in the US, because I don't suppose authenticity is really the point. I just find it amusing - and not un-pleasing - to see groups of (say) hispanic teenagers on the west coast wearing green in honour of the Irish...

#41 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2006, 06:10 PM:

The Archdiocese of Boston also had the Friday dispensation.

(Yes, this means that in the choice between "obeying the law and helping kids get adopted" vs. "slavish adherence to church 'doctrine'" the latter won, but in "celebrating a dubious holiday with inauthentic meal" vs. "marking Lent properly", the latter lost.)

#42 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2006, 01:04 PM:

Follow-up: My wife and a friend and I wound up eating out on St. Paddy's day - they wanted corned beef and cabbage; I can't stand the stuff. We went to a place we usually go for such things, and they had run out of corned beef. I gloated a bit, and we all had the fish.

#43 ::: Henry ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2006, 03:02 PM:

Bacon (i.e. a joint of salt pork) and cabbage is the traditional food back in Ireland; corned beef is (as Diane Duane says) relatively rare. Pigs were far more commonly owned than beef cattle, as parodied in Myles na Gopaleen's "The Poor Mouth," where the family pig and its farrow receive government grants for speaking Gaelic with unparallelled purity and unintelligibility. On St. Patrick, I like this story from my home town (version from the Catholic Encylopedia)

Corc, the grandfather of Aengus Mac Natfraich, erected a fort [in Cashel], and Cashel subsequently became the capital of Munster. Like Tara and Armagh it was a celebrated court, and at the time of St. Patrick claimed supremacy over all the royal duns of the province, when Aengus ruled as King of Cashel. About 450, Patrick preached at the royal dun and converted Aengus. The "Tripartite Life" of the saint relates that while "he was baptising Aengus the spike of the crozier went through the foot of the King" who bore with the painful wound in the belief "that it was a rite of the Faith".

Unlike the myths about the snakes, this has at least a whiff of plausibility about it.

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