Is there anyone left without knowing that today was Saint Patrick? We already know that the joy of the celebration of the patron saint of Ireland goes beyond what it originally supposed, forgetting its introduction to Christianity or the expulsion of the snakes. Everything is green, everything is clover, everything is dark beer and everything is joy, so maybe what I was playing today is to go back to the origins and visit nine essential places to follow Saint Patrick’s footsteps in Ireland to discover how it all began.
Hills and places of pilgrimage, those places where he converted pagans to Christianity or was a slave sheepherder. Ancient churches and tombs that existed (or not) and that are marked by local granite tombstones. Ireland is green and it’s San Patricio, let’s put aside beer and food and dedicate ourselves to the character.
Slemish Mountain – County Antrim
When St. Patrick was just a teenager he was captured and in Wales and transferred to Ireland, where he cared sheep as a slave in this mountain of County Antrim: Slemish. It was six years between the heather and only accompanied by the animals, so there he found consolation in God. There are two kilometers of path to the top.
Church of Saul – County Down
Saint Patrick escaped after six years of slavery and left the island. After a dream, in which he felt the call of Ireland, he returned to convert the pagans to Christianity. He was so good at his own that one of the converts donated his barn to him to turn it into his church: the Church of Saul and that was his home until his death. In the place where I was there is a memorial church and a replica of an Irish tower.
Lough Derg – County Donegan
Lough Derg hides two fascinating stories about the Saint. On the one hand, the story of how he hunted the last snake of Ireland and how he dyed the lake with his blood. In the other, Jesus Christ revealed to him where the entrance to hell was inside a cave. All this historical-magical content makes Lough Derg a place of pilgrimage.
Slane Hill – County Meath
This crusade by Patrick to convert Christianity to the Celts was not easy. On one occasion, while the druids celebrated pagan rites on the Hill of Tara, he decided to challenge the High King by lighting his own flame on Slane Hill. He came out “victorious” and went on with feats and miracles to convince the pagan King that his God was much more powerful. The King did not convert, but he did not put a dent in St. Patrick’s continuing his mission.
The Rock of Cashel – County of Tiperary
The Rock of Cashel is considered one of the main national heritage sites of Ireland. On this green grass hill St. Patrick baptized Aenghus, the king of Munster, who was accidentally stuck a staff on one foot in the process. This was the end of paganism in Ireland. Outside the ruins of the cathedral is the Cross of St. Patrick of the twelfth century. On one of its sides it represents the crucifixion of Christ, and on the other an image that some say is the bishop and others that is the saint.
Croagh Patrick – County of Mayo
Up to this place, that white church that you see at the top of the hill, annually pilgrims 3000 people barefoot the Reek Sunday (last month of July). Croagh Patrick means in Gaelic “mountain of Patricio” and in her the saint fasted during 40 days in Lent.
Cathedral of Down – County Down
In the place there was a former Benedictine monastery is today the Cathedral of Down, which is where they say buried the mortal remains of St. Patrick in 461. Look proudly down to Downpatrick, but although the exact place where St. Patrick was buried remains a mystery, there is a local granite tablet from Mount Morne that marks what his grave was.
San Patricio Visitor Center – County Down
With a country so marked by the life of a saint could not miss a place of study. The St. Patrick’s Visitor Center is the only exhibition in the world dedicated to the patron saint of Ireland. In him there are collections of art that allow to learn more about Patricio and the first Christian epoch.
Cathedrals of Saint Patrick – Armagh
Cathedrals of St. Patrick there are many in the world (all thinking of New York and Dublin), but in the small Armagh have two for lack of one. The cathedral of the Church of Ireland is in the same place where in 445 there was a church built by Patrick. The neighboring cathedral of the Roman Catholic Church dates back to the Middle Ages. Other stories of this city include that, in a twist of fate, the High King of Ireland, the pagan Brian Boru, was buried in Armagh after dying in the battle of Clontarf and that his remains are in the north wall of the Cathedral of the Church of Ireland.