# Ireland. A History. A Nation Once Again? Part I. Иностранный язык. Фомина И.В - 7 стр.

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7
The most striking story from these early biographies describes Patrick as
lighting the first Pascal fire in Ireland. As an account, it is full of high drama. People
are told that the High-King Laoghaire had the custom of lighting a fire at the royal
centre of Tara on a certain night and that nobody else should kindle theirs before he
did so. Patrick had come to the hill of Slane nearby, however, and when Laoghaire
saw a fire lighting there he was outraged and ordered that the transgressor appear
before him. Then Patrick came to Tara as a great Christian Hero, and the High-King
and all the royal forces were confounded by his miraculous power.
Several great contests between Patrick and the pagan druids are described,
contests in which dramatic changes of climate and environment are brought about by
magic and miracles. The saint, of course, triumphs in all of these tussles, which occur
in the presence of the high-King at Tara and of all the royal court. The substance of
these narratives was borrowed from passages in Christian literature, and it is clear
that Patrick was being portrayed as a kind of new Moses triumphing over the Irish
potentates, who have all the marks of the Pharaoh and other Biblical tyrants. Indeed,
just as Moses caused water to spring from rock at a stroke of his staff, so Patrick is
said to have caused holy wells to spring up at different places so as to facilitate the
baptism of his converts.
The earliest biographies described the mission of Patrick as taking place in the
northern half of the country, but around the 9
th
century a third account of him was
written which extended his mission to the south. As well as the bishopric at Armagh,
it was further claimed that he founded the bishopric at Cashel, which rivaled the
former in prestige. There is a little doubt but all such accounts of his activities were
closely connected with the claims and counter-claims of the two leading power-
groups of the period, the Ui Neill dynasty in the north and the Eoghanacht dynasty in
the south.
In the 9
th
century literature we also find the beginning of a celebrated tradition
concerning St Patrick. This claims that he spent forty days and nights fasting on top
of the mountain of Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo, and that God became worried last he
might die and thereby leave his mission unaccomplished. The Supreme Being
therefore asked him to abandon his fast, but Patrick would only do so on three
conditions that the Irish people would not live permanently under oppression, that
the country would be submerged seven years before the end of the world and so be
spared the final devastation, and that Patrick himself would be allowed to judge all
the Irish people on the Last Day. This tradition, which has Patrick as the special
champion of the Irish, persisted down through the centuries and gave consolation to
the people in times of misery and distress.
The best-known of all traditions concerning the saint seems not to have originated
until the 11
th
century, when it first appears in biographies of him. This is the belief
that he banished the snakes from Ireland. The Indications are that this idea was
suggested by the many accounts of how the saint banished the demons of paganism,
and that it was borrowed specifically from a similar motif in the biography of St
Honoratus, founder of the island-monastery of Lerins in France where Patrick is said
to have studied. The fact that there were no snakes in Ireland was well known from
                                            7
The most striking story from these early biographies describes Patrick as
lighting the first Pascal fire in Ireland. As an account, it is full of high drama. People
are told that the High-King Laoghaire had the custom of lighting a fire at the royal
centre of Tara on a certain night and that nobody else should kindle theirs before he
did so. Patrick had come to the hill of Slane nearby, however, and when Laoghaire
saw a fire lighting there he was outraged and ordered that the transgressor appear
before him. Then Patrick came to Tara as a great Christian Hero, and the High-King
and all the royal forces were confounded by his miraculous power.
Several great contests between Patrick and the pagan druids are described,
contests in which dramatic changes of climate and environment are brought about by
magic and miracles. The saint, of course, triumphs in all of these tussles, which occur
in the presence of the high-King at Tara and of all the royal court. The substance of
these narratives was borrowed from passages in Christian literature, and it is clear
that Patrick was being portrayed as a kind of new Moses triumphing over the Irish
potentates, who have all the marks of the Pharaoh and other Biblical tyrants. Indeed,
just as Moses caused water to spring from rock at a stroke of his staff, so Patrick is
said to have caused holy wells to spring up at different places so as to facilitate the
baptism of his converts.
The earliest biographies described the mission of Patrick as taking place in the
northern half of the country, but around the 9th century a third account of him was
written which extended his mission to the south. As well as the bishopric at Armagh,
it was further claimed that he founded the bishopric at Cashel, which rivaled the
former in prestige. There is a little doubt but all such accounts of his activities were
closely connected with the claims and counter-claims of the two leading power-
groups of the period, the Ui Neill dynasty in the north and the Eoghanacht dynasty in
the south.
In the 9th century literature we also find the beginning of a celebrated tradition
concerning St Patrick. This claims that he spent forty days and nights fasting on top
of the mountain of Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo, and that God became worried last he
might die and thereby leave his mission unaccomplished. The Supreme Being
therefore asked him to abandon his fast, but Patrick would only do so on three
conditions – that the Irish people would not live permanently under oppression, that
the country would be submerged seven years before the end of the world and so be
spared the final devastation, and that Patrick himself would be allowed to judge all
the Irish people on the Last Day. This tradition, which has Patrick as the special
champion of the Irish, persisted down through the centuries and gave consolation to
the people in times of misery and distress.
The best-known of all traditions concerning the saint seems not to have originated
until the 11th century, when it first appears in biographies of him. This is the belief
that he banished the snakes from Ireland. The Indications are that this idea was
suggested by the many accounts of how the saint banished the ‘demons of paganism’,
and that it was borrowed specifically from a similar motif in the biography of St
Honoratus, founder of the island-monastery of Lerins in France where Patrick is said
to have studied. The fact that there were no snakes in Ireland was well known from