Saint Patrick Was Nobody’s FoolApparently Ireland was a pretty grim place before Saint Patrick stepped in and cleaned it up. Ireland had become the country of ‘choice’ for demons and evil-doers.
According to a 12th century monk named ‘Jocelin’ reporting from Belgium, Ireland was a pretty desperate place: "The demons used to show themselves unto their worshippers in visible forms: they often attacked the people, inflicting much hurt; and only ceased from their baleful doings when they were appeased by foul heathenish prayers and offerings. After this they were seen flying in the air and walking on the earth, loathsome and horrible to behold, in such multitudes that it seemed as if the whole island were too small to give them standing and flying room. Whence Ireland was deemed the special home of demons. And lastly, magicians evil-doers and soothsayers abounded beyond what history records of any other country on the face of the earth."
This explicit travelogue must have been very bad for tourism to the Emerald Isle. Fortunately, Saint Patrick saved the day when he decided to expel the nasty demons Jocelin had so graphically described. Enough was enough. So Patrick (no one explains exactly how he did this) herded all the demons in Ireland into County Mayo and up the mountain known today as Croagh Patrick. He then commanded them to jump off a cliff on the other side of the mountain into the sea. (No matter that there is no sea directly beneath Croagh Patrick.) The demons balked at this so he took out a little consecrated bell some angels had given him for demon control.
Demons could not bear to hear the tinkling of Saint Patrick’s holy bell so Patrick rang it until they could no longer stand it. Screaming in a rage, they flung themselves off the cliff. But they were sneaky. Instead of diving into the sea (which was not there anyway) they dove instead into a ravine known today as Demon’s Hollow and hid.
Saint Patrick was nobody’s fool. He followed them down the steep incline as far as he could and then hurled the bell into the ravine after them. All that bell tinkling terrified the demons and they flew out of the ravine and jumped into the sea as ordered. Unfortunately, this created another major problem: sea serpents.
Perhaps Saint Patrick did not evict all of the demons after all and the ones that were driven into the sea vaporized and are today disguised as clouds. The kind that block the sunlight on Ireland’s west coast almost every day of the year. So watch out for any demons St. Patrick may have missed and always carry a little bell with you when you travel to the west coast of Ireland. Just in case.
Brenna Briggs is the author of the Liffey Rivers Irish Dancer Mysteries