St. Patrick's Arrival in Ireland

From An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack

« start... Chapter VIII. ...continued

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In the year 432 St. Patrick landed in Ireland. It was the first year of the pontificate of St. Sixtus III., the successor of Celestine; the fourth year of the reign of Laeghaire, son of Nial of the Nine Hostages, King of Ireland. It is generally supposed that the saint landed first at a place called Inbher De, believed to be the mouth of the Bray river, in Wicklow. Here he was repulsed by the inhabitants,—a circumstance which can be easily accounted for from its proximity to the territory of King Nathi, who had so lately driven away his predecessor, Palladius.

St. Patrick returned to his ship, and sailing towards the north, landed at the little island of Holm Patrick, near Skerries, off the north coast of Dublin. After a brief stay he proceeded still farther northward, and finally entering Strangford Lough, landed with his companions in the district of Magh-Inis, in the present barony of Lecale. Having penetrated some distance into the interior, they were encountered by Dicho, the lord of the soil, who, hearing of their embarkation, and supposing them to be pirates, had assembled a formidable body of retainers to expel them from his shores. But it is said that the moment he perceived Patrick, his apprehensions vanished. After some brief converse, Dicho invited the saint and his companions to his house, and soon after received himself the grace of holy baptism. Dicho was St. Patrick's first convert, and the first who erected a Christian church under his direction. The memory of this event is still preserved in the name Saull, the modern contraction of Sabhall Padruic, or Patrick's Barn. The saint was especially attached to the scene of his first missionary success, and frequently retired to the monastery which was established there later.

After a brief residence with the new converts, Patrick set out for the habitation of his old master, Milcho, who lived near Slieve Mis, in the present county of Antrim, then part of the territory called Dalriada. It is said that when Milcho heard of the approach of his former slave, he became so indignant, that, in a violent fit of passion, he set fire to his house, and perished himself in the flames. The saint returned to Saull, and from thence journeyed by water to the mouth of the Boyne, where he landed at a small port called Colp. Tara was his destination; but on his way thither he stayed a night at the house of a man of property named Seschnan. This man and his whole family were baptized, and one of his sons received the name of Benignus from St. Patrick, on account of the gentleness of his manner. The holy youth attached himself from this moment to his master, and was his successor in the primatial see of Armagh.

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