Nashua, Chickasaw, Iowa
March 15, 1917
It was the foundation of St. Patrick's greatness that his renovation of
Ireland was not a revolution. He left old institutions untouched, wherever they
could be purged of a taint of superstition. There were septs and clans, judges,
bards and kings before him, and they continued after him. He built his church
carefully. To disarm political opposition he appeared straight to the heads of
the clans. He aimed at the creation of administrative clergy. He tried to give
every community a place of worship. At his death 365 churches lay along the
roads his journeys had taken; 365 bishops were distributed throughout the land,
3,000 priests ministered to the spiritual wants of the nation. He attempted to
throw into the church thus suddenly created a strong element of stability by
systematizing it on the models of the canons and making ecclesiastical law
effective in every department.
He did not believe in sanctity unassociated with education. Under him
religion created great monasteries and monasteries created great schools. By
those schools St. Patrick is a factor in the history of Europe. Even before he
went to Ireland he had seen the days when Ostrogoths established themselves in
Pannonia and Thrace, when the Visigoths sacked the Italian peninsula from end to
end and carved out a Spanish kingdom within the domain of great Rome, when the
Huns rode their blazing course up the Danube and the Rhine almost to the ocean;
when the Vandals terrorized Spain and crushed the power of the empire in
northern Africa, when the Salian Franks took firm grip of northern Gaul. His
long life stretches over a period during which the whirlwind of barbaric
invasions swept away all but a remnant of the ancient language. But now the
world went to Ireland, and the Irish brought their school to the world.
Religion, the ancient classics, law, history, natural science, agriculture,
manual training, the use of implements and the forge, all came within the scope
of these intense and practical scholars.
Not without reason has the name of St. Patrick been held in veneration
through these many generations. There is nowhere a teacher whose services for
learning exerted so wide an influence in a time so critical for all culture.
There is nowhere a statesman whose activity so completely reformed the character
of any people. There is nowhere such a national hero whose fame is sounded
across fifteen centuries and can still stir emotions of enthusiasm far beyond
his nation's shores. There is nowhere a saint whose teachings are blended like
his with the destinies of his nation.
Irish Leaders in American History.
The Declaration of Independence has twelve Irish names. Matthew Thornton,
James Smith, and George Taylor were born in Ireland; John Hancock, William
Whipple, Robert Treat Paine, George Read, Thomas McKean, Edward Nelson and
Thomas Lynch were of Irish parentage. The secretary of congress who prepared the
immortal document from the rough draft of Thomas Jefferson was Charles Thompson,
a native of Derry, while Captain Dunlop, still another Irishman, printed it, and
published it to the world. Captain Dunlop was the founder of the first daily
paper in Philadelphia.
Remember Native Land.
No other people coming to our shores have displayed toward their native land
a love more wholesome than the Irish. They keep their children fed upon the
tales of the fairies and "little people" who are good to the good children, and
whose wrath descends upon the children who are not doing right.
Church and Tower at Kells.
The celebrated Book of Kells was written there in the sixth century. This
church is famous for its historical associations. The town of Kells originated
in a monastery founded by St. Columba.
The towers, which are numerous throughout Ireland, have been the subject of
much controversy among antiquarians. They are thought to have been used as a
means of defense.
Four or Five-Leaved Shamrock?
Some say the four-leaf shamrock is the shamrock of luck, and others say that
it is the five leaved one that holds the magic touch. This latter is rare and
prized and said to grow from a decaying body, as the nettle is said to spring
from buried human remains. The shamrock of luck must be found "without
searching, without seeking." When thus discovered it should be cherished and
preserved as an invincible talisman.
Many Irish Flags.
Quite a number of flags have figured in Irish history. Not the least popular
among these is the flag exhibiting three golden crowns imposed on a blue ground.
This flag was accepted after the Norman invasion in the year 1170, as the ensign
of Ireland, the three crowns representing the kingdoms of Desmond, Ormond and
Thomond. It was retained until 1547 when Henry VIII abolished it and substituted
Date of Saint's Death.
In his extreme old age St. Patrick wrote his "Confession," which concludes
with these words: "And this is my confession before I die." He died at Saul on
the 17th of March, A.D. 465.
The roster of the revolutionary war is bright with Irish names. General
Montgomery was a native of Donegal. Lord Mountjoy in a speech before the house
of commons declared. "You have lost America through the Irish."
In Education and Sports.
Among the Irish educators in America may be mentioned Horace Greeley,
William Rainey Harper and William Maxwell. The Olympic games of a few years ago
were planned by Sullivan Halpin and Mike Murphy. Martin Sheridan, the great
all-around athlete, is Irish, and the national game of baseball is claimed as of
True to His Allegiance.
The Celts were the last of the races to accept Christianity, but having
accepted it, they cling tenaciously. The Irish Celt is slow to adopt either
religious or political innovations, but once his allegiance is given, it is
extremely difficult to shake it.
Presidents of Irish Parentage.
Presidents of Irish parentage were Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, James
Polk, James Buchanan, Chester A. Arthur, and William McKinley. Calhoun, also
Irish, said "War may make us great, but peace alone can make us both great and
For Fifteen Centuries the Reek Has Played Important Part in Country's History.
It is in the month of July that the great annual pilgrimage of The Reek
The Reek, sometimes known as Croagh Patrick, is the Mount Zion of the
Emerald Isle. For on its summit St. Patrick is said to have wrung from the angel
many promises for the salvation of the people he had made his own.
For fifteen centuries this mountain has played an important part in the
religious history of Ireland, and year by year people journey by the thousands
up the mountain, which is about 3,000 feet high. It is a steep and difficult
ascent, occupying the best part of three hours, and most of the pilgrims make it
in the evening, so as to hold their vigil on the summit. There is a little
chapel on the mountain top. But it is so small that few can find a place
therein, and most kneel outside.
The sermons preached are in Gaelic, and the masses continue from daybreak
St. Patrick is on record as having visited the Reek in A.D. 441 and spent
forty days on its summit hidden from the world by the mists hanging about the
lower portion of the mountain. The legend says that he was assailed by huge
black birds, which only took to flight when he rang his bell against them. The
bell rolled down the mountain, but an angel came and restored it to the saint.
All of the men of Erin heard this ringing of the bell, and it is stated now that
it is often heard again.
Afterward St. Patrick was visited by angels, and from their leader he
wrested the following pledges: That as many souls as should be saved as could
fill the horizon which he looked upon; that on every Thursday seven souls and on
every Saturday twelve souls should be freed from purgatory; that whoever recited
the last verse of his hymn constantly should suffer no torments in the next
world, and that on the last day he should be appointed to sit in judgment on the
sins of Gael.
Cathy Joynt Labath
Iowa Old Press
Ireland Old News
Irish in Iowa