Mar 15 2013

Here's an excerpt from Frank Delaney's Ireland: A Novel (2005). Have a look... you might need this info on Sunday, St. Patrick's Day...

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"Just as Patrick was about to leap forward a third time, the drummer brushed the loose grass off his drum and set up a slow, steady, powerful beat. It started like an insistent whisper. They say that mushrooms whisper up from the grass asking to be picked. It was that kind of whispering beat, so soft only the keenest ear could hear it in fact, so soft that only Patrick could hear it.

I told you earlier that Patrick had left behind some writings, and one of his most famous works was something many of us learned in school called "Saint Patrick's Breastplate," a kind of a cross between a hymn and a poem. It came into his head now. His brain started to keep time with the drum, and he stood there, a glowing smile on his face, nodding his head. To the rhythm of the drum he began to speak the words of the "Breastplate."

"I rise this day. Through Heaven's strength. Lit by the sun. Bathed by the moon. Gloried by fire. I have the speed of lightning. I am swift as the wind. I am deep as the sea. I am stable as the earth. I am firm as stone."

photo

At this point in the chase, Patrick seemed faster than the Devil, whose goat's tail had changed its nature. The tail grew and grew, and eventually it became thick and strong as a bullwhip, with a point like an arrowhead on the tip.

Yards from each other, they raced to the flat top of the mountain. Patrick reached out to grab the Devil's tail. He caught it but had to let it go again because it was red-hot -- it felt, he said afterward, like grabbing an iron from a blacksmith's fire.
At that, the Devil became desperate to get away. His way was blocked, so he bit a big chunk out of the mountaintop and carried it off in his mouth. Patrick, stunned at the size of the hole in the mountain, hesitated for a moment, and lost his advantage. By the time he looked up, the Devil had gone too far ahead to be caught. Patrick gave up the chase.

Up ahead, at Cashel, the Devil stopped for a rest, and he dropped the stone out of his mouth. That stone became the Rock of Cashel, the most famous sight in Ireland. If you knocked down all the ancient buildings on the Rock, took up the stone, and hauled it back up to Templemore, it would fit exactly into the slot on the mountain they call to this day "The Devil's Bit."

About the author: Kerry Beeaker has been part of our crack McMenamins marketing staff since 2005.
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#1 carol egan

nice Irish-info, and pic for St pat, devil and the ridden ram.

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