St. Patrick visits Tara

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

Sculptures at Devenish

Sculptures at Devenish

Chapter IX.

« St. Patrick's Mission | Contents | Index | Easter Sunday at Tara »

St. Patrick visits Tara—Easter Sunday—St. Patrick's Hymn—Dubtach salute him—He overthrows the Idols at Magh Slecht—The Princesses Ethnea and Fethlimia—Their Conversion—Baptism of Aengus—St. Patrick travels through Ireland—His Success in Munster—He blesses the whole country from Cnoc Patrick—The First Irish Martyr—St. Patrick's Death—Pagan Prophecies—Conor Mac Nessa—Death of King Laeghaire—The Church did not and does not countenance Pagan Superstition—Oilioll Molt—Death of King Aengus—Foundation of the Kingdom of Scotland—St. Brigid—Shrines of the Three Saints—St. Patrick's Prayer for Ireland, and its Fulfilment.

[A.D. 432—543.]

Letter O

N Holy Saturday St. Patrick arrived at Slane, where he caused a tent to be erected, and lighted the paschal fire at nightfall, preparatory to the celebration of the Easter festival. The princes and chieftains of Meath were, at the same time, assembled at Tara, where King Laeghairé was holding a great pagan festival. The object of this meeting has been disputed, some authorities saying that it was convoked to celebrate the Beltinne, or fire of Bal or Baal; others, that the king was commemorating his own birthday. On the festival of Beltinne it was forbidden to light any fire until a flame was visible from the top of Tara Hill. Laeghairé was indignant that this regulation should have been infringed; and probably the representation of his druids regarding the mission of the great apostle, did not tend to allay his wrath. Determined to examine himself into the intention of these bold strangers, he set forth, accompanied by his bards and attendants, to the place where the sacred fire had been kindled, and ordered the apostle to be brought before him, strictly commanding, at the same time, that no respect should be shown to him.

Notwithstanding the king's command, Erc, the son of Dego, rose up to salute him, obtained the grace of conversion, and was subsequently promoted to the episcopate. The result of this interview was the appointment of a public discussion, to take place the next day at Tara, between St. Patrick and the pagan bards.

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