For my favorite story this month, I chose a book to suit St. Patrick’s Day. Cindy Thomson, my friend from my writer’s group, wrote The Roots of Irish Wisdom: Learning from Ancient Voices. She recounts the lives of Ireland’s most famous saints, Brigid, Patrick, and Columcille. She also has shorter biographies of “The Apostles of Erin.” Other chapters cover “Celtic Learning and Art” and “Celtic Prayer.”
It’s interesting to read her nonfiction account of Brigid since she also wrote a novel based on the saint. Her research showed her that some of the attributes of the Celtic goddess Brigid were assigned to the Irish nun.
Ancient Irish history fascinates me, perhaps because it developed differently from the rest of Europe. Since Rome never conquered and then abandoned the island, it entered the Dark Ages with a different tradition. In her chapter “Celtic Prayer”, Cindy writes that “Christianity developed differently in Ireland … because the faith had a monastic base.” This “took root … because ancient Ireland consisted of a system of tribes, groups of family members ruled by a king.” The Roman style of organization with a bishop in charge of a city “was unnatural to the Irish.”
I enjoyed the chapter on prayer because of the wonderful rhythm to some of the prayers and the images from the natural world.
At only 84 pages, this well-researched book is a quick read. So if you want to curl up with a book while you sip Irish breakfast tea (I hate coffee) and snack on Irish soda bread on March 17th, The Roots of Irish Wisdom will not let you down.