Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick of Ireland, by Philip Freeman

If you like Dark Age British/Irish history, then you'll enjoy this book.

"Everyone has heard of St. Patrick, of course, but the man most people know is little more than an icon who drove the snakes out of Ireland. This lack of knowledge about the real Patrick is truly regrettable, because he has such an amazing story to tell: a tale of slavery and brutality, pain and self-doubt, sorrow and constant struggle, but ultimately of perseverance, hope, and faith."
—from St. Patrick of Ireland

Like most people I knew only two things about St. Patrick: he drove the snakes out of Ireland, and his day is a time for drinking vast amounts of alcohol (whether you're Irish or not). Last month I read online somewhere that Patrick was a Romano-British patrician kidnapped by Irish raiders in the 4th century. After 6 years as a slave he escaped, returned home to Britain, trained to become a priest, then traveled back to preach to the Irish. Intrigued, I went to amazon.com, typed in "St. Patrick" and found this book. I then checked it out from my local library.

Philip Freeman writes for those who have little previous knowledge of Late Roman, Pagan Irish, or early Christian history. This makes his book a breeze to read. He tells this true-life adventure story using Patrick's own surviving letters and general facts about the time and place in which he lived. It's really a fascinating tale. This March 17th before you celebrate with your mint McDonald's milkshake or your pint of Irish stout read up on the historic St. Patrick!


Chris said...

Sounds interesting. I think I'll add it to my wish list.

There were a couple of good reasons for drinking all that alcohol: up until the 20th century there were no other readily available pain killers and before the development of sanitation in the late 19th century alcoholic drinks were much safer to drink than water.

Andrew said...

True! I've read about that. Nasty microbes were all too common in drinking water, whereas alcohol was sterile. I remember a professor saying that all those old European folk tales were so crazy because everyone was drunk all the time—an exaggeration I'm sure, but I'll bet all that meade, cider, and ale had some affect on behavior.