Bank Holidays and a New Skerries Family.

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It is generally accepted that W.E. Gladstone was a decent man who tried in different ways, to improve the quality of peoples’ lives. God knows he had his work cut out in the middle of the Victorian age, when ‘Dickensian’ was a by-word for poverty and misery.One of his lasting and welcome innovations was the extension of the Bank Holiday to all citizens to provide some relief from the daily grind. The advance of the railways resulted in a lemming-like migration on bank holidays, to the seaside and other places of recreation. Think of the modern bank holiday traffic jams. A car full of impatient ..’are we there yet?’….children.  Sandy sandwiches, a chilly breeze  coming off the sea, sudden squalls of rain and huddling behind a windbreak on the South Strand, in wet bathing togs. It must be worth it in the end. The funny thing is that these are the memorable days, the days the family cherishes and laughs about in the years to come.

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Paul Darcy at work.

We can be a bit smug in Skerries because we can pick and choose. We have the amenities at our doorstep, winter and summer. There is a special poignancy in walking about a seaside resort in mid-winter. The beaches are strewn with the debris of the most recent storm, all the plunder of the Deep laid out to amaze us. You won’t need your togs today. Not for us the long and creeping traffic jam on migration to the sea. We are spared the sweaty, rattling bus journey with the kids, bags of beach gear and fold-up go cars…are we there yet?…are we there yet?…We don’t have to queue for the bus at the end of the day, with cranky children, or fathers with a few pints too many, or mothers invariably keeping the show on the road. Memorable days indeed.

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Do you remember The Film Fun or The Radio Fun, two comics that extracted the maximum spin-off value from the popular stars of the day: Jimmy Jewell and Ben Warris, Jimmy Edwards, with his handlebar moustache and his sidekick Dick Bentley, Ollie and Stan? They always travelled in pairs, (possibly to avoid the ‘single-room supplement’). They marked the great occasions of the years in appropriate fashion, usually with a ‘slap-up feed’ or a trip to Brighton/Skegness/Morecambe, for the Whit Bank Holiday. They wore striped full length bathing togs on the beach and knotted handkerchiefs on their heads.There were minor disasters usually mitigated by a nearby millionaire who laughed so much at their misfortune that he would invariably say: “I haven’t laughed so much in twenty years. Here’s fifty pounds.” The day was saved. You can always tell a millionaire because he wears a top hat and striped trousers. He has a glittering diamond on his tie-pin and another on the band of his cigar. I keep a sharp eye out for them. It wasn’t really very funny but perhaps it was reassuring for people to think that they shared something with such luminaries. Why though, did Ollie and Stan travel all the way from Hollywood to spend a bank holiday weekend in Blackpool/Bognor/Bournemouth? George Formby did in fact, come to Skerries, with ‘is little ukelele  in ‘is ‘and.

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The seal sculptures are the new landmark of Skerries. The artist has liberated the spirit of ‘family’ from nineteen tons of Portuguese limestone. This family makes people smile. ‘Mammy, Mammy, can I have an icecream?’  ‘When Daddy has finished his lunch.’  ‘Can I go for a swim?…Even the fish has a slight smile on his face. Michelangelo had a vast block of Carrara marble, discarded by the builders, as waste. He rose every morning to catch the first light of dawn, when the marble was at its most translucent. He saw David inside the stone. All that remained was to chip away the superfluous marble and release the young king. It’s all very simple, if you don’t count the incalculable hours of toil and the particular skill of the artist who sees the possibilities locked in a piece of rock.

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Out of his own gifts, Paul has bestowed a gift on all of us. Children arriving on the bus or by car, will know that they are there when they see the seals. ‘Mammy, Mammy, can I go and sit up on a seal?’  ‘Of course you may. That’s what they were designed for.’ The coming bank holiday will introduce this new Skerries family to our visitors. Keep an eye out for Abbott and Costello and a laughing millionaire. It could be your lucky day. Thank William Ewart Gladstone if it is.

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Well done, Paul. The further good news is that there is plenty more white limestone in Portugal. You will have to get up early in the morning to carve it all.

Until morale improves. Golf and the Wages of Sin. The Crying Room.

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I love this inscription on the Floraville path of memories: The beatings will continue until morale improves. It’s for your own good. Spare the rod etc. On Monday morning, after the childrens’ sodality, the schoolmaster beat the boys who had not attended church from three o’clock to four, the previous day. No excuse was accepted. ‘Where were you yesterday?’ ‘Sick, sir.’ ‘Not good enough. Sín amach do lámh.’ Think of the courage of a small boy stretching out his hand for the cane. ‘Caddying, sir.’  ‘Caddying! Caddying!’ This was a ‘reserved sin’. To endanger one’s immortal soul for a few pieces of silver from a good natured golfer on Sunday afternoon, smacked of the treachery of Judas. ‘ How much did you get? What did you do with it?’  ‘Gev it up, sir.’ ‘Not good enough. Sín amach do lámh’.  The child had contributed his few shillings to the household budget, no small consideration in the hungry Forties. One boy admitted that he had bought noranges. Nobody laughed. ‘Sín amach do lámh.’ Noranges, in the lean years after the war! Bloody luxury! The boy will be hung. ‘Now stand up the boys who were up in the gallery.’ This was , for some reason, a particularly offensive offence. I don’t know what depravity went on up in the gallery. There is an old music-hall song, ‘Miss Jenny Lind, With the Entire Company and This Time , Principally YOUR—SELVES’: The boy/girl (Delete as appropriate) I love is up in the gallery. Up in the gallery… The church is no place for that sort of thing. Down with that sort of thing etc.. Sín amach do lámh.

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Margaret and I  sat at the back of a crowded church yesterday. We were in the chidrens’ room, sometimes called The Crying Room. It was Mike’s First Communion Day. The children looked very smart in their new outfits. They were happy.They sang a song about thanking God ‘for making me me.’ Songs of Innocence.  There was another one that sounded a bit like: Ob-la-di Ob-la-dah life goes on brah, la la how life goes on.. Some small children in the room, broke off from their kick boxing, to dance together. The parents smiled indulgently. A granny with a walking -stick tried to restore order. Let’s hear it for grannies. My mind wandered. I remembered sodality. Sodales, dining companions, boon companions, members of a secret society. No we weren’t. There was no fine dining on Sunday afternoons in the church. There were hymns in Latin: Jenny Tory, Jenny Tokway, louse et jubilatio… I liked the sound of Latin, although I wondered who Jenny was and where the louse came into it.. Somebody up in the gallery, played the organ. My older brothers took me to my first sodality. ‘Then the priest comes out with some yoke and lights a fire in it. The church fills up with this lovely smell’. I loved the drifting smoke and the lovely smell. I imagined that my prayers rose up, like the smoke in the afternoon light, to wisp about the throne of God.

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Those windows haven’t been opened in years. No waft of fresh air has come in there for half a century. The spiders are secure in their tenancy. I thought of the countless numbers of good people who have given their time to the church. Their contributions built it. It was thronged every Sunday, as it was for yesterday’s Mass.  Nowadays it is mostly a church for children and old people. I went to an evening funeral. By the time the crowd had finished sympathising with the bereaved family, it was time for the visiting mission priest to address the mens’ retreat. I stayed on. A mind, just like a window, should be opened occasionally. He spoke about lust and the sins of the flesh. I looked around. I was the youngest in the church. The other customers were propped up on sticks. Down with all that carry-on, we agreed.

I felt sorry for Colin Powell when he was instructed to address the U.N. on the matter of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. It was obvious that he didn’t believe his own words. Body language. He showed a spy camera video of a large truck manoeuvring in a circle. This was to put the fear of God into the members of the U.N. Be careful around large trucks. The invasion went ahead anyway. Iraq was destroyed. A more frightening enemy, Isis/Is/Isol came into being. To Isis, we are all infidels. A Christian church, filled with children on Holy Communion Day, would be a plum target. Very dark thoughts in the Crying Room on such a happy day. By the way, Tony Blair became the Peace Envoy to the Middle East.  For crying out loud! He resigned recently to concentrate on making a few bob for himself. I felt sorry also for decent churchmen who were obliged to repeat the ‘party line’ on the referendum on Marriage Equality for gay people. Body language again.

The light comes through the mottled glass and makes the alcove glow. It’s a granite building. The mica glitters in the sunlight. We came out to see the people laughing, taking photographs and greeting one another. I saw one or two grandaddies who were there on the day I made my First Communion. If only I could recapture some of that innocence.   The news was that the Yes had been carried in the referendum. Ireland had not disgraced itself yet again. I felt proud that a sense of fairness had lifted the dark and cruel shadows of the past from fellow citizens who had suffered too long.  We went to Mike’s birthday party. There was a bouncy castle, as decreed by the Third Vatican Council—-well, it will be. Things change. We were charmed to see our children and their children enjoying a family day together. The other news is that Mike made a few bob. I could well have gone caddying in the golf club and made a few for myself, on such a fine day, but I don’t know a niblick from a five iron. Tips would have been thin on the ground.

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We are living in a better Ireland today. I spotted this sign on the way home. A bank open on a Saturday! For mortgage appointments! A few bob available. No grovelling required. (I made that bit up.)

In a couple of years they have built a home sweet home/With a couple of kids running in the yard/Of Desmond and Molly Brown…./Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on…yeah..la-la-la-la life goes on…

Indeed it does. The beatings have been suspended. Let’s hear it for the Beatles.

Trousers, Lobsters and a Giant Leap Sideways.

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 How would this sound as a slogan? Lobsters will fight and Lobsters will be right.  It looks good in red, although lobsters might think otherwise. It needs a great leader and a loud voice, to attract followers,  perhaps other crustaceans, tired of seeing their kinfolk boiled alive to grace the tables of gourmets, gourmands and the running-dogs of capitalist imperialism. No, that isn’t a boiled lobster. It’s a hermit crab without a shell. He has that ammonite spiral perfected by his remote ancestors, countless millions of years ago in the primaeval seas. Our remote ancestors had it too. Even the embryo in the womb retains a touch of the ammonite spiral, in the early days. A Red Spiral would make a potent symbol to rival red crosses, red sunbursts and red stars….The Lobster Liberation Front…..The Ammonite Army….The No-Crab Clause written into the menu of every restaurant.

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Waiters would compile lists of those who ordered the prawn, the shrimp, the crab. We could all end up in re-education camps, re-educating our palates to enjoy only vegetarian food culled from sustainable sources. Is that so far-fetched? It appears that the lobsters liberated last week from a tank in a Chinese restaurant in Dublin, were fetched from as far away as Canada. They were obviously Canadian as they did not fight or make any trouble. They looked a bit glum when they were restored to the sea at Dollymount. It can be very chilly out there. Normally, when alarmed, a lobster performs a Giant Leap backwards. These lads just lay there.The young woman from the Animal Rights group made an impassioned and cogent speech about the cruel fate of the Crustacean race. I can’t argue. I am a life-long offender. I am probably already on that sinister list. Is it an omen that Henry VIII’s ship The Marie Rose, sank with all hands, on her maiden voyage? Only a jar of the delicious sauce survived.

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The 1970s gave us plenty of news, reported nightly on television. A lot of it was about war and oil. South East Asia was crucified daily in an attempt to preserve our freedom. Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. I’m sorry. I’ll read that again. Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. He did, but then, Time Magazine once named Adolf Hitler their Man of the Year. There was also Richard Millhouse Nixon and Watergate. There were too, hideous crimes against fashion, perpetrated during that decade. Trousers became tighter and tighter at the top and wider and wider at the bottom, to the point that they bestrode this narrow world like a Colossus. (J. Caesar….Great Leader.) There was a world shortage of denim. The spread of trousers had to be curtailed. Severe cutbacks resulted. Fortunately, we had the shaggy dog, Roobarb, to bring a little sanity to the chaos and dismal news. He had five minutes before six o’clock to lift the gloom. If you don’t remember Roobarb, you should look him up on Google. Denim was originally intended for making tents etc. When Levi met Strauss in a gold-mining camp, they decided to make indestructible trousers out of it. It’s a great story. In fact it’s a riveting story.

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Roobarb peered through the neck of a bottle wedged in a rock pool. He saw crabs, magnified by the curved glass in the base of the bottle. The crabs went about their business of fighting and tearing one another’s legs off, until they spotted the Giant Eye in the Sky. Some panicked. Others fell down on their numerous knees (I make it 24, not counting the claws, which are I suppose, are arms ) and worshipped the apparition. Others consulted The Wise Old Crab. (Crabwise?) He divined that a Great Leader, a Messiah, had come to save them: “This could be a giant leap sideways for crabkind”, he declared, to universal applause. They waved their arms and legs in excitement. They are very good at that. The tide came in and flooded the rock pool. Roobarb lolloped away. The Six o’Clock News came on The children groaned. So did I.

John D. Sheridan wrote about the simple truths of life. He wrote that no man can sleep easily in his bed, unless he knows that his trousers are nearby, hanging on the bedpost or draped on a chair within reach, in case of an emergency. Trousers are the first life-support system. They have pockets for keys and a few bob. O Casey said: “Money isn’t everything but a few pound in the pocket is good for the nerves.” Trousers keep us warm. They protect our vital assets and our dignity. Dictators and Great Leaders specialise in special police who make dawn raids on suspects, catching them at their most vulnerable, without their trousers. No man can command respect or awe, dressed only his underwear. At the subsequent show trials the defendants’ belts and braces are removed, making them subjects of derision, conclusive proof of guilt. In your liberation revolution, let your motto be…’Keep the faith; keep your powder dry and keep your trousers nearby at all times… preferably on your person.’ That’s far too long for a pithy motto or a rousing speech. An acquaintance of mine many years ago, was surprised in the middle of an amorous dalliance, by the unexpected arrival of the young lady’s father. He managed to salvage his trousers and one shoe, from the debacle, escaping through the window in panic. The romance fizzled out. He lamented the loss of that shoe more than the loss of the love of his life. His story provoked derision and laughter rather than pity or tears. There is a fine line between tragedy and farce.  Kissinger? Did Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, have a black sense of humour?

Which brings me in a sideways fashion, back to hermit crabs. I had no intention of walking sideways. There is a little cauldron worn into the rocks at low tide level near The Captain’s bathing place at Red Island. It has been scoured to a perfect circle by pebbles carried in and stirred for millennia by the churning waves. I have visited it many times over the years to observe the hermit crabs. There are always some of them in the pool. They go about their business like shoppers at the January sales, constantly searching for the perfect fit. In the endless bargain-basement of the sea they can renew their wardrobe of shells, upgrading from winkle to whelk and possibly to conch if an irresistible bargain drifts by. Sometimes they have to resort to violence to protect a find…just like the January sales. Have you ever noticed how the rejects are indiscriminately thrown on the floor? I mean in the January sales. They wriggle their wobbly tail-ends inside. They sigh with satisfaction. They smile in triumph. The hermit crabs, I mean. After a pleasant lunch with my family and a few glasses of wine, I decided to photograph the hermit crabs. I set off across the rocks, ill equipped for clambering or wading. I took a spectacular tumble on slippery seaweed and lay there with one foot in the water and my dignity severely damaged. I’d swear that I heard the little hermits sniggering. At least they didn’t swarm out of the pool to nab my trousers. I retraced my steps painfully, working my way sideways over the slippery rocks. I was bent over like an ammonite. My left hand began to swell like a lobster claw. That was a few days ago. I have evolved again into an upright, vertebrate, bipedal mammalian life form. That’s a relief. Until genetic engineering can provide me with six more legs, I might stay off the tidal rocks. Throw in a shelly exoskeleton and I will be ready for anything.

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Some Gaulish and German tribes insisted on fighting stark naked as a sign of manliness. Ok. Ok. We believe you. On one memorable occasion (I forget where and when. I must have been looking out the window when we were studying the Gallic Wars–) Julius Caesar manouvered the entire battle into a vast field of nettles and thistles. Surrender  was immediate. Had they never heard of combat trousers? Julius liked to end each chapter on a cheerful note..’making a great slaughter of the enemy’. Great Leaders do that sort of thing. Chairman Mao led his people on a Great Leap Forward into famine and further repression. His successors have sidled away from his doctrines and policies in recent years. My brother, a busy man, used to jog because he had little time to go for a walk. Many years ago, while in Peking, he left his hotel room early in the morning to go for a jog. His good wife was surprised to see him back in twenty minutes. ‘They were all laughing at me’ he complained. You know how that can feel…but 9,000,000 o0f them! He had not heard Katie Melua sing about about nine million bicycles in Beijing. He had not expected to meet nine million laughing and pointing, Chinese cyclists, in identical, grey Chairman Mao padded jackets and trousers. He is quite a large man. Let’s  just say that with his freckles, white skin and hairy legs (He was wearing shorts) he stood out from the crowd. I think they were very mean to my brother. He made a Giant Leap backwards to his hotel,to his trousers and his dignity.

The man who owned the Grosvenor House pub at the harbour, also owned a coal yard. He maintained a constant vigil against the Guards, especially during The Holy Hour. An upstairs window was always left slightly down. His head would emerge sideways through the gap,  leaving a semi circle of hair oil and coal dust on the reveal over the window. He emerged with the caution of a hermit crab and withdrew slowly to the protective shell of his pub when the coast was clear. Grosvenor House, renamed, is now a very fine seafood restaurant. There is another one where the coalyard used to be. We went there yesterday to celebrate the happy occasion of our first grand-daughter’s graduation. I had the prawns. From Thailand. Far fetched or what?

Don’t tell anyone. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Shrimps might get to hear about it. Or the Gambas Gang. Not to mention The Spanish Squidinkquisition. Aha!!! Who dares to mention The Spanish Squidinkquisition?

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Twelve Acres and Angels…..

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My father-in-law, Barney Duignan, was at one time, the youngest sergeant in the Garda Síochána, or The Civic Guards as they were called at the founding of the force. He was eighteen at the time, one of the first to join. This was at the time of the foundation of the state, when a bitter and brutal civil war was in progress. It is difficult to overstate the courage and dedication of those young men who went out, unarmed, to enforce the law in a land where assassination and reprisal had become the norm. Likewise it is impossible to adequately acknowledge the debt owed by our country to those who by moral force, gained acceptance for the authority of the democratically elected government. His first posting was Tallaght, a country village in County Dublin. He cycled out, with Paddy Glynn on the crossbar of his bike, to open the first police station in the village. Paddy Glynn was later, the sergeant in Skerries for many years. Barney went on to achieve the rank of Chief Superintendent, driven by an inflexible respect for the law, justice and public service.  There he is, standing beside a biplane in the Twelve Acres field in Skerries, some time in the 1920’s. It amused him to point  out that he had flown from the field in which our house now stands. He survived the hazards of early aviation and equally, he survived the hazards of smoking. Smoking beside high-octane aviation fuel can seriously damage your health. I have spotted him in old photographs of motor cycle races, marshalling the crowds that thronged onto Strand Street. The smell of the high-octane petrol still brings me back to the excitement of the Skerries 100.  I have seen the letter of commendation he received from the RNLI. Although he had the countryman’s dread of the sea, he volunteered one night to make up the numbers in the lifeboat. ‘It was my duty.’ Simple as that.

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I heard John B. Keane talking about the spiritual importance of a field. A field is the product of effort and the accumulation of memories and associations. What a great field it was. Despite the name, I understand that it contained twenty five Irish acres. Irish acres were introduced during the time of the confiscations to take more land while making the theft sound less excessive. I don’t know how this worked out at twelve. I saw cricket matches there and the bivouacs of the LDF. There was a gymkhana in The Twelve Acres and a horse show. I can recall how the earth trembled under the hooves of the enormous draught horses. Their manes were plaited with ribbons. Their tails were plaited in like manner.Their necks arched as gracefully as the necks of the Parthenon horses. Their harness shone with burnished brass. Their flanks were combed and gleaming and they wore their white-tufted fetlocks with the panache of a regiment of prancing Zulu warriors. You could easily see how a line of heavy cavalry would strike terror into an opposing army. The Pony Daly had a plough-horse in the show. We wanted him to win as he was a friend of our parents. I can’t remember the result but the hooves still pound in my memory. The nomads of the various travelling circuses set up their tents here. The excitement was almost too much for small children. From our back window, you could see the poles of the big top rising into the sky and the striped tent materialising, as if by magic. There was magic. They were real circuses, with elephants and lions. They had monkeys and horses and trapeze artists defying gravity. They had clowns. I still dread clowns. The clowns had a collapsing motor car that backfired. Is there anything as funny as a backfiring car? I had a few cars like that. Not a bit funny.

We crossed this field with our father, on autumn mornings, on our way to the mushroom fields along the cliffs. We went in by the stile at the Red Shed. That was a barn, always filled with hay and straw. It would have made a great hangar. He showed us where the soldiers had cut rifle slots in the corrugated iron in 1916. The farmer had claimed compensation from the War Office, for damage to his barn. He wanted a new barn. Due to the ‘exigencies of the war effort’ they could not provide him with a barn but they sent him the cost of repair. Lloyd George was in government. What would you expect?  The barn was patched with pieces of iron, bolted into place like giant pot-menders. They rusted. The barn rusted. Red lead could not halt the decline. The rectangle of the barn became a trapezium. It inclined. It sagged and eventually disintegrated, around the time that the British Empire did likewise. All that red on the world map in school was really rust.

At the extreme S.E. corner of the field stood Cheeser Barrett’s forge. He wore a ‘cheese-cutter’ cap, still popular with sailing folk, despite the ubiquitous baseball cap. Cheeser saw his trade decline, with the advent of tractors and motor transport. Horses became a rarity. As a man of action and a serious drinking man, he occasionally took matters into his own hands. I saw him standing in the middle of the road, swinging at the passing traffic with an iron bar. Perhaps he resented the petrol fumes.  He made a big impact on me, as a symbol of the passing of an old way of life, just as he no doubt made an impact on the passing motorists. We all handle change in our different ways.

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We bought a house at the extreme N .E.corner of the new development. We saw the field turn into a World War I landscape as new roads were laid and the slope was graded. Poppies and thistles grew everywhere. Margaret describes how she saw me coming home from the train, carrying a child on my shoulders, through a blizzard of thistledown. The thistledown drifted on the breeze. There are a few descendants still lurking in our garden. The children called them angels. The angels drifted in through open windows and sailed around the house. The children blew them aloft and laughed as the little parachutes drifted languidly about the room. The dandelion clocks told the time on long summer days as we set our house and gardens in order. There are still some dandelions too but …live and let live. The Twelve Acres has been good to us.

Barney delighted in his grandchildren and they in him. I never imagined him as an angel but I like to think that maybe occasionally, he circles above the Twelve Acres field to keep an eye on things, as any vigilant Guard would.

Proposal for the Inclusion of Skerries on the Ancient East Trail.

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The ‘Bishop Window.’

Sent by Pope Celestine in 432 A.D. Patrick arrived with some few companions, at the island that still bears his name, close to the picturesque town of Skerries in Fingal. This was his first landfall on his return to Ireland, where he had once laboured as a child slave, tending sheep on the Hill of Slemish. He came to convert to Christianity, the people who had once captured him from his home in Roman Britain. The magnanimity and courage of this man, whose community had long been ravaged by Irish raiders, is astounding to contemplate. His earlier experience of Ireland had been one of suffering and loneliness. He survived by dint of faith in God and determination to escape. He returned as a bishop of the Roman church, not to exact revenge but to change Ireland forever. Wherever the Irish have settled around the world, the name of Patrick is honoured and venerated as the Apostle of Ireland. His mission began in Skerries.

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Of the many legends that grew up around the story of Patrick, the first one began here. The imprint of his foot can be seen in the rock at Red Island where he first stepped ashore to begin his work. A more colourful version is that he leapt in fury from his island, to challenge the Skerries people over the theft of his goat. Such was the force of his anger that his foot sank into the rock on impact. He was too late. The goat had been killed and eaten by the Skerries people. The thieves denied their guilt and all knowledge of the goat, whereupon the animal inside them bleated loudly, giving the game away.

This episode was a source of embarrassment to Skerries people for sixteen hundred years. The taunt “Skerry Goats” caused many an altercation with neighbouring villages over the centuries. In 1988 a plaque depicting the goat was placed on Saint Patrick’s Church in Skerries, by way of restitution to the saint for the theft and in recognition that the goat has become a much loved symbol of the town and its societies and clubs.

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Everything that was ours, was restored to us because of God and our invaluable friends.

Scholars maintain that the influence of the island church remained strong after Patrick’s time,despite it having been the likeliest location of the first Viking raid in 798 A.D. Saint Malachy convened a major synod on the island in 1148 A.D. to discuss re-integration of the Irish church with the Roman system of discipline and organisation. In the thirteenth century the monks moved to the mainland and rebuilt their monastery at Holmpatrick, beside the present Holmpatrick Church. An Ogham stone commemorates Peter Mann, the last abbot at the time of the Reformation and destruction of the monasteries.

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                                                                                                                                                               Holmpatrick Church.

Patrick’s last resting place is Downpatrick, nestling beside the Mourne Mountains, clearly visible from the island where he began his great mission. It is as if he had almost completed a full circle in his life’s pilgrimage.

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A sad footnote to the story of Patrick is the destruction of his crozier. It was long preserved at Ballyboughal, (The Town of the Staff) near Skerries. It was believed to have miraculous powers. It was removed to Armagh and later to Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin. In 1538 Archbishop Brown of Dublin ordered that the staff be stripped of its gold and jewelled ornamentation. He then publicly burned the wooden staff as a relic of old superstition.

Further suggestions for a Saint Patrick  Heritage Centre.

Map and images of places closely associated with Patrick’ mission, with lines radiating out from Skerries: Tara, Slane,Croagh Patrick, Lough Derg, Armagh etc.

Panoramic map of the world, with radiating lines showing how his influence started in Skerries. Show world landmarks ‘Greened’ for Saint Patrick’s day.

High definition images of early Christian churches and relics, as a compendium of the Christian influence introduced by Patrick and others.

Images of High Crosses, The Book of Kells and other illuminated manuscripts.

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Patrick at Tara.

CGI images and model of the ruined monastery on the island.

Aerial views of Skerries Islands.

Live camera feed from nesting sites on the islands.

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Arrival of the clergy and plenary session of the Synod of 1148 (file pictures)

With the development of an Ancient East Trail, based partly on the historical riches of Ireland’s Early Christian Monuments, it would be logical to celebrate Skerries as the starting point and fulcrum of Patrick’s mission to change the Irish people. Without his efforts the ‘Island of Saints and Scholars’ might never have come about and our history would have been  the poorer.

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