Updated: May 16, 2022
The ancient Roman empire had an efficient military, they built roads so the more their empire spread the easier they could get supplies to their front lines. When they reached Britain though they came to a stand still. The north of Britain (Scotland) they could not conquer nor did they go further west into Ireland. It was the Roman army that called the north of Britain scots land in the first place. This was the name they had for the people of Ireland and the North of Britain because they were/are the same race of people. They travelled back and forth from one place to the other.
When the Roman army encountered the Celtic warriors they knew they had met a formidable foe. So much so they thought they would have no more to do with this enemy. Instead they built a wall in the north of England that was to keep the Celtic savages out. This wall is still visible today and is a tourist attraction, it's called Hadrian's wall. While the sea was a natural barrier to keep them safe to some extent from marauding forces coming from the island of Ireland. Though not always. St. Patrick it is said came from England or Wales, and it is believed he lived there comfortably under the Roman empire. That was until one day an Irish raiding force came and kidnapped him and took him back to Ireland.
He was taken back to a place in Co. Antrim called Slemish (I lived at Slemish a while myself), where he was forced to work and got very little food. He stayed out on the hilltop of Slemish. It is a very exposed place with no protection from the elements.
We all know the rest of the story after a dream he had, he escaped Ireland, went off got educated in the faith. Came back to Ireland and converted the whole island to the faith. What I want to inform my readers of is not so much the story of how Ireland got converted, but what has happened since then.
The Irish people loved the Faith and nothing or no one was going to take their faith from them. Ireland became the land of saints and scholars. It came to be a place where people would come to get educated in the faith.
When the Vikings began their raids on Ireland in 795 AD they sacked villages and monasteries, stole everything they could, burned and destroyed as well as burning religious books. So the Irish monks built big round towers, with no way in from the bottom you used a ladder to get in, then the ladder was taken inside. They are big tube like structures 65 still stand today from Armoy Co. Antrim to Aghadoe outside Killarney. The people kept safe in these belfry towers all the sacred relics and holy items.
Later in 1014 AD the deeply Christian Catholic King Brian Boru got the forces of Irish clans to unite to defeat the Vikings at the famous battle of Clontarf. He himself died on good Friday at the battle. It is said that he dreamt of a free united Ireland. A dream I hold myself, one nation under God.
After that there was peace for a time.
Then in the 16th century, a man by the name of Martin Luther broke from the Church, and created his own false church. Then hundreds of churches sprouted up in a short space of time, the errors of Protestantism spread like wildfire across Europe. Even once great Catholic nations fell for these Protestant heresies. Britain and Ireland though was not effected in the same way.
That was until King Henry VIII wanted to remarry. He became infatuated with Anne Boleyn, sought to get an annulment from Pope Clement VII. The Pope said, no, I don't think so. So King Henry decided, ok in that case I'll create my own church. Then came the Catholic persecution. He made all kinds of reforms. Stole Church property for his own false church. For a short period good Queen Mary I a devout Catholic, reigned until the Protestants ousted her.
Then came the cruel and evil Queen Elizabeth in 1558. She was even worse than her father King Henry. Catholics under her rein suffered greatly. Catholics endured her until her death in 1603.
In Ireland though the people kept the faith despite all this, even though Britain for the most part was now entirely Protestant.
Then came Cromwell in 1649, a man who hated Catholicism. He re-invaded Ireland confiscated land, introduced penal laws. Killed, raped and pillaged his way through our country. Trying to use force to make the people convert. The Irish though would not surrender the faith, no matter what he did.
Mass were held in secret at what was called mass rocks. These were secret locations outside where a huge rock would be used as the altar for which the sacrifice of the mass would take place. Lookouts were stationed in case British soldiers would come. If they did, a warning was given, so the people may get away. What also happened is that one of the laity took on the priest's robes. He pretended to be the priest. Saving the priest from getting caught was most important, without him there was no mass. When the soldiers arrested who they thought was the priest the mass could continue in that area without as much interference. The Irish kept their faith, working the land of their own country for foreign landowners. They suffered and prayed, but they never broke. They held tight to the faith, the more they were pressed upon the more steadfast they held onto the Catholic faith.
In 1798 there was a big uprising and one of the most influential and successful leaders was a holy and devout Fr. Murphy a priest from Co. Wexford who was captured taken prisoner, tortured and burned on a rack.
Then in 1845 things got even worse. A potato blight came to Ireland, potatoes were the main staple food for the Irish people. Now people will tell you there as a famine, that though is not the case. There was a deliberate starvation. There was enough food for the people, however the British landowners would not take less than their usual quota. They also wanted the same rent from their tenants. With the blight the people could not make the normal quota and have enough to feed themselves. So the people could not pay the rent and were put out of their house and left to starve. The British government in such great charity decided they would provide soup kitchens for the hungry. With one small caveat in order to receive their bowl of soup they first had to renounce their Catholic faith. The vast majority of the people refused the soup, and many died as a result.
The Irish were beaten but not broken, and once again they lived in this servitude, there were uprisings some large and some small. Then came another great St. Patrick. He is famous in Ireland, but less well known outside of Ireland.
Padraig Pearse the rebel poet, a true patriot. He stirred the nation again, with a bloody sacrifice. Padraig Pearse along with most of the leaders of the 1916 Easter rising were devout Catholics, they loved their faith enormously.
The people's spirit was all but broken, they were fed up with suffering and decided it was easier to accept the bondage they were born into. For them the fighting was done, they could do no more. It was pointless, 800 years under British rule and the risings and the resistance seemed to be all in vain. The few though like our leaders of 1916 Padraig Pearse, James Connolly, Thomas Clarke, Sean MacDermott, Joseph Mary Plunkett, Eamon Ceannt, Thomas MacDonagh they had a different idea.
On Easter Sunday 1916 these leaders and their men took strategic positions in Dublin. They took control of the General Post Office in Dublin from where Padraig Pearse read the Irish Proclamation. In that proclamation it evokes God. It reads of an independent sovereign nation under God. With the right to self determination, so that means not just free from British rule, but from Europe too. Those men fought from the GPO, and they continually prayed the rosary while holed up inside there.
They chose the rising on Easter Sunday because of the symbology of it. They knew it was a blood sacrifice that they would not win the battle. They hoped though that it would be a spark to stir up the nation.
A British naval boat sailed up the Shannon and began shelling, innocent people were being killed. So eventually Padraig Pearse surrendered so there would be no more loss of innocent life. When the men were being led away by the British soldiers, the Irish people shouted at the leaders of the rising and spat at them. They were infuriated that they should start such trouble. However the British misread the feelings of the public. The people were annoyed, but somewhere deep inside they felt those men in the GPO and other places around Dublin and Ireland who stood up and resisted that day were in the right. It was not until the British began executing them, that anger took over the people. The war for independence was rekindled that day. It is still being fought for, the South is no more independent than the north. It belongs to the EU, while the north still belongs to Britain. Some day though some how we will be united and free, a holy nation once again. That was St. Patrick's dream, that was Brian Boru's dream, that was Fr. Murphy's dream, Padraig Pearse's dream, and it is my dream.
Tiocfaidh ár lá (Our day shall come)
Truth & Tradition