March 04, 2016

Tidying Up The Context for Patrick's Day

Lismore grew in time to be a great religious city, and a school of sacred sciences, to which pilgrims from all over Ireland and scholars from beyond the seas resorted.

—Patrick Power, Waterford & Lismore A Compendious History of the United Dioceses Cork University Press 1937 pg. 5.

As late as the 15th cent. the primacy of Lismore, among the Sanctuaries and Schools of Munster, seems to have been tacitly acknowledged. In recognition of the status in question, special immunities were granted to the city and church of Lismore, as well as to the attached manors, by the Provincial Synod, held at Limerick in 1453. These included freedom from exactions by anyone, even the Lord of Desmond, or the king's representative.

—See Appendix XIII.

Freedom from exactions sounds like a pretty sweet arrangement but the sordid truth is that, at least as passed down through my family's recollection, it was earned as tradeoff for Lismore locally settling with firm finality the whole snakes-out-of-Ireland controversy fomented from the first by fans of Patrick and occasioning there in Lismore as elsewhere throughout the Wooded Isle centuries of objectively unnecessary commentary ornamenting almost every conceivable aspect of the matter.

This local settlement did not countenance expression of certain divergent views, divergent in the sense that they strayed too far from the hard won consensus that for the good of all this snake-related nonsense must cease and Patrickology must move on.

In this way my forebears enlisted in a project of not only denying a place in Lismore to the snakes per Patrick, but actively subduing any idle talk of them as might arise in Lismore's vicinity from time to time as well.

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