St David’s Day sadly passed unmarked here on Being Anne – I was elbow deep in packing cases on the day. But thanks to author (and all round lovely person) Faith Hogan, St Patrick WILL have his day. Now, if you’re a regular reader of Being Anne, you’ll already know how much I love Faith’s books: I really enjoyed her debut, My Husband’s Wives, last year (you can read my review here, together with a great guest post from Faith), and I think I might have enjoyed her second, Secrets We Keep, even more (review here). So Faith – over to you, and happy St Patrick’s Day!
So, here we are again, St Patrick’s day. For many of us Irish, we greet it with mixed memories. Mostly, it’s a day of cabbage and bacon, re-runs of ‘oirish great films’ on the television and an added pressure to speak a little of the Gaelige at every turn. It’s a day when we are meant to be proud to be Irish, which I think most of us are – apart from the green rivers and the dancing leprechauns that are unleashed across half the world on that one day of the year.
I know for me, the day has taken much the same shape almost every year for the last decade and a half. We have a family lunch (anything but cabbage and bacon!) and then head to town to watch the parade. In our town, the parade is a very local affair, with every voluntary group putting in an appearance. There are floats and bands, dancers and chancers, but like all the other Irish mammies, my highlight is wherever my own children are marching.
Every year it’s something different and if your children are like mine and they’re involved in lots of different things it’s hard to know which banner they’ll be under. Soon, I know they won’t want to march at all – so I’m savouring those moments of seeing them walking along delighted with themselves in the meantime!
To be honest, before I had children, I was all ‘paraded out.’ A few years before I got married I had taken to making the day my own, with a long walk on a quiet beach with my dog and a late return home after it was all over. You see, I’d come to the point where I felt I’d done my bit! I’d marched for the local festival, the order of malta, the brownies, the girl guides and even for work at one stage. I was officially retired from St. Patrick’s Day. If anything, I was traumatised from all the marching!!
Poor old St. Patrick has a lot to answer for. We are told that Patrick arrived in Ireland in the fifth century first as a slave, captured in Wales. The story goes, he spent some time in servitude witnessing our pagan ways and after he escaped, decided he must return to instil some religion into this heathen land.
And what a job he did.
Today, up and down the country, there are many different sites associated with St Patrick. Near where I live, we have the ruins of a church built on a site where he was renowned to have converted half the county. There are similar places up and down the country – he was obviously a man who liked to walk! He is credited with banishing the snakes from our emerald isle. He may also be responsible for making the shamrock our national emblem.
These tales are the threads of legends and only marking out a potted history. The academics would suggest that in fact, the St. Patrick we now credit with such industry, may have been two people. The first was Palladius – the real first Bishop of Ireland sent by the Pope of the day; not so much to Christianise us in the latter part of the fourth century as to put some sort of order on the religious communities already in existence. The second Isernenus, another of the Pope’s envoys is believed to have been from Britain and it’s unclear if the work of both men have merged into the myth of St Patrick as we know him today.
In truth, the legacy St Patrick represents is in fact far greater than this.
It is right, Ireland had a great tradition of paganism. We have some fine examples of standing stones, impressive burial mounds and early monuments to the great pagan gods punctuating our landscape and making it the richer for this time in our history. It was the arrival of Christianity however, that provided the essence and shelter for scholarly endeavours. It was within the Christian community that the written word was taught, used and prized.
Our story telling, myths and legends have been passed down orally. They spread because they were told by firesides, in hedge schools and by travelling players. They survived because there was an early tradition of putting words on the page, thanks to the monasteries and yes, maybe a little bit down to St. Patrick.
We are renowned as a land of saints and scholars – but I have a feeling that there may not be so many scholars had we not had the saints to lead the way! St Patrick opened the doors perhaps not to let the snakes out so much as let the erudition in!
Happy St Patrick’s day to you and of course, may all your rainbows be ending in a crock of gold (or a stack of good books)!!
Thank you Faith! Let’s take a closer look at Faith’s two wonderful books: clicking on the headers will take you to their respective Amazon pages.
Paul Starr, Ireland’s leading cardiologist dies in a car crash with a pregnant young woman by his side.
United in their grief and the love of one man, four women are thrown together in an attempt to come to terms with life after Paul. They soon realise they never really knew him at all.
The love they shared for Paul in his life and which incensed a feeling of mistrust and dislike for each other, in his death turns into the very thing that bonds them and their children to each other, forever.
As they begin to form unlikely friendships, Paul’s death proves to be the catalyst that enables them to become the people they always wanted to be.
The beautiful old Bath House in Ballytokeep has lain empty and abandoned for decades. For devoted pensioners Archie and Iris, it holds too many conflicting memories of their adolescent dalliances and tragic consequences – sometimes it’s better to leave the past where it belongs.
For high-flying, top London divorce lawyer Kate Hunt, it’s a fresh start – maybe even her future. On a winter visit to see her estranged Aunt Iris she falls in love with the Bath House. Inspired, she moves to Ballytokeep leaving her past heartache 600 miles away – but can you ever escape your past or your destiny?
About the author
Faith Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.
She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers. Her debut novel, My Husband’s Wives, is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin. It was published by Aria (Head of Zeus) in 2016. Secrets We Keep is her second novel.