Giveaway details for Londonderry Dreaming at end of blog post.
Irish monasteries are often attributed to St. Patrick when in fact the most famous missionary to Ireland had little to do with building grand structures.
Patrick was not even the first missionary to Ireland, nor the most educated, though he did endure more hardship than most wandering monks, being exposed to persecution from druids and robber gangs.
But thanks to Patrick who went as a missionary to Ireland in 432, and Irish monks, the Celtic church in Ireland was a beacon for Europe during the dark ages after the fall of the Roman Empire.
Wandering Irish monks with their preference for evangelizing laid the foundation for Christian centers in Western Europe by going
out and returning to
their humble retreats for rest and rejuvenation.
|Looking our from a beehive hut in the
Skelligs Island monastery
Photo Attribution: I Dagmar
Very early monasteries were extremely rigorous such as the rugged island of Skelligs in County Kerry. A barren pinnacle of rock jutting out of the Atlantic was
From the 6th to 8th centuries, the relatively isolated Ireland attracted scholars from Europe. They came to the misty, windswept island to receive the highest level of education in all of western civilization at that time.
|Illuminated page from the Book of Kells
As the centuries passed, Irish monasteries attracted wealthy nobles from Britain and Europe. Patronage like this allowed literacy and the arts to flourish, such as illuminated texts like the Book of Kells, and Celtic masonry that can be seen in the lavish detail of stone crosses dotting all over Ireland.
In the 11th and 12th centuries the great monasteries such as Clonmacnoise and Glendalough were established. These communities are more what we think of today in regards to medieval monasteries.
Often set beside a river to provide self-sufficiency, these larger Christian centers had their own water-mill for grinding wheat and barley. At one end of the community would be a small stone church, and in some larger monasteries a cathedral as
well. These later structures
were often modeled on Gothic and Roman styles, with flamboyant tracery and fine
tomb carvings set in within church graveyard surrounded by low stone walls.
|Glendalugh Monaster, Co. Wicklow
Photo Attribution: Schcambo at English Wikepedia
Dwellings for craftsmen would be provided, and in the center stood a tall, round
These round towers were often over 100 feet tall. Used as bell
towers, they were the critically needed lookout and refuge against Viking raiders,
as well as a place to store valuable illuminated manuscripts. The entrance to stone
towers could be 13 feet high off the ground and reached by ladder, which in the
event of a raid would be pulled up and inside. Other ladders within the round
towers connected the wooden floors within.
Round Tower, Devenish Island,
Photo Attribution: HENRY CLARK
Sprinkled around the remainder of the community would the abbot’s house, the refectory and kitchen, gatehouse as well as guest houses and stables, and the monks’ dwelling and barns. A high Celtic cross marked the monastery boundary.
|My aunt, me, and daughter Lana outside
St. Patrick's in Downpatrick N. Ireland on
mine and Lana's trip in 2006
While St. Patrick never built a grand structure his name graces many. I’ve visited a few, including the church in Downpatrick N. Ireland where the famous missionary to Ireland is buried.
Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction. Tales of her Irish ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning series Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and explosive finale Veiled at Midnight.
Christine’s Irish wit and her use of setting as a character is evident in her contemporary romance Londonderry Dreaming and her newest release Sofi’s Bridge.
Aside from being a busy writer and speaker, Christine and her husband live on the west coast of Canada. Coming August 2016 is the release of Christine’s non-fiction book Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story.
Please drop by Christine’s website www.ChristineLindsay.org or follow her on Amazon on Twitter. Subscribe to her quarterly newsletter, and be her friend on Pinterest , Facebook, and Goodreads
To win a copy of Christine Lindsay's contemporary romance Ebook Londonderry Dreaming, set on the rugged Antrim coast, leave a comment. Please spell out your email address so I can contact the winner. To enter your name again share this post on social media and leave a comment to let me know. I will draw the winner of the Sunday following this post.
To celebrate St. Patrick's Day watch this fun video with toe-tapping Irish music on the book trailer for Londonderry Dreaming. Click HERE to watch trailer.