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St Patrick

8 9 on the Worlds edge a barbarians slave When Patrick was sixteen, Irish raiders appeared, devastated the place, murdered many, and took him captive. He became a slave presumably near Voclut wood by the Western sea, the only Irish place he mentions. This seems to be Foghill, near Killala in Mayo, in an area which has the highest density of raths or ring forts in Ireland, evidence of an active and expanding society. The raths are mostly later, but the cultural revitalisation which transformed Ireland had begun by Patricks time, and the changes included the adoption of subRoman tools, crops, dairying and other agricultural methods along with the introduction of individual land tenure instead of a tribal, communal organisation. After I came to Ireland I tended the livestock every day, and often prayed. More and more love and fear of God came to me, my faith increased and my spirit was so aroused that I would say a hundred prayers in one day and at night almost the same. On the mountains or before dawn I rose to pray, in snow, in frost, in rain. There were over a hundred Irish kingdoms inside Irelands tribal fifths or provinces, noblemen measured wealth in cattle, and assemblies or fairs were held on sacred hills. They were fascinated by the Romans, wore imitation Roman belts, swords and armour and a few could even write. A native script, ogham, was invented for inscriptions on Irish standing stones, and in their British colonies, emulating Latin monuments, and there were Christians both amongst the Irish and the thousands of British slaves. Above A rath, or ringfort. Right Irish costume of St Patricks time. Below The Tara Brooch. Below right The secret Ogum alphabet.
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