Monday, March 4, 2013

Saint Patrick and the Serpent – a retelling of an ancient tale by Rab Swannock Fulton

In anticipation of St Patrick's Day and a celebration of all that is Irish, I've given storyteller Rab Swannock Fulton today's post.

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Galway Bay Folk Tales is
illustrated by Marina Wild.
For more see:
Below is an extract from Galway Bay Folk Tales, the new book by Rab Swannock Fulton. The book retells the dark and strange myths, folklore and urban legends of Galway and the west of Ireland. One of the main characters in the book is Saint Patrick who with his nephew Lugnad travels from the North to the West of Ireland fighting against Druids, Pagans and  Immortals such as Cromm Crúaich.

Lugnad was the son of Patrick’s sister Limanin. On the mission around Ireland the old man would often come near to being overwhelmed with anger or despair; at other times pride and temptation would threaten him. It was Lugnad, with his steady youthful optimism who would guide Patrick back to calm reflection. So it was that Lugnad became known as Patrick’s navigator.

From the moment he arrived in Ireland Patrick pursued his mission relentlessly. With the arrival of the morning sun, Patrick and his black cowled followers fell on the drowsy pilgrims at shrine of Cromm Crúaich. Wielding wooden clubs and crucifixes they smashed the bodies of idols and idolaters.

Hearing the screams of men, women and children Cromm Crúaich hurried to do battle. He transformed into a monstrous snake with poison dripping from its teeth. The beast rushed towards an old man who was shouting out instructions and encouragement to the invaders. The old man turned around and laughed at the serpent. ‘Don’t bother me fairy!’ Enraged the Immortal snapped open its jaws and swallowed Patrick, but the evangelist ripped his way through the beast’s gut.

Wounded, the Immortal slithered away. Patrick returned to the battle filled with a blinding rage, only to have Lugnad put a hand on his shoulder. ‘Enough.’ Patrick raised his hands and the violence stopped. The pagans who survived were converted en mass and helped their Christian brethren strip the gold and silver from the pagan statues. As prayers of thanks were offered up to God and Christ, Patrick vowed his work was not yet done. ‘Cromm Crúaich’s shrine is broken. But I will not rest until Cruachan Aigli is conquered.’

In the granite bones of Ireland’s hills, atoms shifted imperceptibly as the news of the destruction of Cromm Crúaich’s shrine was transmitted across the Island. With one act Patrick altered utterly the realities of this world and worlds beyond. Kings and queens shivered with horror as they contemplated new and sudden opportunities for their own advancement or destruction. Even in the realm of infinite possibilities the paths of unborn ideas were realigned by notions of belief and unbelief.

Cromm Crúaich was broken, but Patrick was not yet satisfied.

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Galway Bay Folk Tales is published by The History Press. For details see Galway Bay Folk Tales on Amazon

Rab’s other work includes a retelling of the Irish Pooka legend in Transformation an e-book available from Dark Continents Publishing.

His work will also be included in the upcoming collection of short stories Dark Harvest.

For more see About Rab

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post Nerine. There's a couple of other extracts up over here in Galway in anybody wants a look

    'Saint Patrick on the Island of Strangers' extract can be read in my own blog 'Marcus Marcus & the Hurting Heart'. See:

    'How Croagh Patrick got its name' can be read in ‘A Beautiful Hue’. This is the blog of Marina Wild who is the illustrator of Galway Bay Folk Tales. See:

    All the best on Saint Patrick's Day!