St Patrick is one of the most famous saints of all time. Thousands of people with no direct Irish connection celebrate St Patrick’s Day, parading along the streets of New York, Boston, Chicago, San Antonio, Texas and Sydney, where St Patrick’s Day is a national holiday. These celebrations are the latest version of the cult of St Patrick, which has persisted in different forms since his death on 17 March, 462AD.
But who was St Patrick, and how much of what we know about him is fact, how much legend? This book looks at the historical man and the evidence of his writings, the myths and the apocryphal stories, and describes the social changes that led in the 18th century to his emergence as a symbol of Irish nationalism. Patrick: From Patron Saint to Modern Influencer is a fascinating and lively portrait of the man who converted pagan Ireland to Christianity – a fresh, sometimes startling examination of the folklore and traditons that have developed around the saint through the ages.
First published in 1989 in the UK and USA, this fully updated edition features new photographs and illustrations and will be an indispensable companion for anyone seeking to understand the role of St Patrick in forging modern Irish identity.
Alannah Hopkin has taken the traditional image of St Patrick and breathed new life into it. In crisp incisive prose and with an eye for the telling anecdote, she wears her considerable erudition lightly, entertaining and informing in equal measure. The result is a gem of a book, encompassing not only the historical origins of Ireland’s greatest saint but his perennial influence (so vividly manifest in colourful parades all over the world) on Irish culture. The best book on St Patrick around.— JAMES HARPUR, AUTHOR OF THE PILGRIMAGE JOURNEY, THE ATLAS OF SACRED PLACES AND LOVE BURNING IN THE SOUL: A HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICS
From early Irish scribes to American rivers dyed emerald-green, what does the story of an early Christian Welshman tell us about the changing place of Ireland in the world today? Alannah Hopkin’s book is engaging, enlightening and written with an irreverence that does her religious subjects incisive justice. Escaping narrow and nationalist views, and with a fresh immediacy to her research, this book sets the standard in defining St Patrick’s place in the life of Ireland, and the place of Ireland in the world. It should resonate with all those rediscovering the origins of their roots, as well as those who, like myself, have come from other countries to make Ireland their home.— GEMMA TIPTON, WRITER WITH THE IRISH TIMES