As he brought new faith to Ireland
So may He bring to you,
A touch of Irish happiness
In everything you do
And like the good Saint Patrick
May your home and life be blessed
With all Godís special favours
Good health and peaceful rest
--an Irish blessing
Long ago, when Ireland was the land of Druids, there was a great Bishop, Patrick by name, who came to teach the word of god throughout the country. This saint, for he was indeed a saint, was well loved everywhere he went. One day, in his long travels, St. Patrick came to the Reek and taking up his staff, he began to climb the great hill.
As he laboured up the mountain he grew weary and rested to gather his strength. He began again to climb the torturous path when the demon Corra descended upon him. St. Patrick fought the demon with his staff and finally banished the beast by throwing his silver bell at her. She blackened the bell, turning it to iron and then fled screeching to Lough Derg.
Upon reaching the summit, St. Patrick drew himself up and offered blessings to the land of Eire and her people. Holding aloft his bell, he rang and called aloud to banish the snakes of the land to the great green sea of gloom. From the rocks and the land the serpents of the island fled in fear, never to return.
For 40 nights St. Patrick held vigil on the great mountain, praying and fasting to save the island people from their heathen ways. His pilgrimage to the mountain gained the converted the promise that those who perform penance shall surely not go to hell.
Thereafter the great mountain of Reek was known as "Croagh
Patrick" and the faithful to this day trace the pilgrim's path
of St. Patrick, laid down so long ago.
Croagh Patrick or The Reek, located in County Mayo, is known as "Ireland's Holy Mountain." Rising 2,510 feet, the mountain is cone-shaped with a summit of white quartz. The ancient name of the place was "Cruachan Aigle" roughly meaning "the act of celebrating or holding festivals."
The principal god of the land before the coming of St. Patrick was the harvest god Crom Drubh; "the dark bent one." His consort, Aine, is the presiding goddess of Ireland, also a harvest deity, who makes a home atop Cruachain Aigle, Crom Drubh spends the cold winter in the underworld of Aine's sidhe, seeking golden sheaves of wheat, which he carries to humankind upon his back.
The ancient celebration of Aoine Chrom Dubh began on the Friday before the last Sunday in July. The three-day festival culminated in a pilgrimage to the summit of Cruachan Aigle on Sunday, known as Domknach Chrom ("Crom Dubh's Sunday").
Today, thousands of pilgrims make the journey up the mountain on this day, little knowing of the ancient deities to which they pay homage.
In former times the pilgrimage to the mount was made by women in
want of children who traversed the mountain to be present at the
summit when the mountain goddess gave birth to her child at Lughnasa.
Hoping to take part in the divine birth, women slept upon the summit
of Cruachain Aigle and upon returning from the mount partook in
dancing and lovemaking at the foot of the mountain as late as the
Today it is the mythic, rather than the historic Patrick that people follow. Maire McNeill, in her seminal work, The Festival of Lughnasa, writes "Saint Patrick must be a latecomer to the mythological legends,...displacing a former actor."
Scholars inform us that the historic Patrick did not visit the famous sites to which he is attached Croagh Patrick, Lough Derg, and Tara. As an outcast in Irish society, he wrote, "I daily expect either assassination or trickery or reduction to slavery." The fabulous feats belong to lore and to Saint Patrick, not to the man named Padraic.
As an old man he considered himself an "exile and refugee." He died in approximately 460 AD with no ordained successor. Patrick's true legacy is found in his life of drama, passion and most of all dedication well worth our admiration without the embellishments of time.