Milestones or Millstones: Coming of St Patrick

Milestones or Millstones: Coming of St Patrick

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Belfast, Co. Antrim, Havelock House




Transmission 12/06/1979


12min 50sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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Paul Clark leads a conversation with Prof. F. J. Bryne (University College Dublin) as they explore the topic of Saint Patrick and how the early Christian Church was formed in Ireland. 

The discussion begins by restating the traditional view of Saint Patrick - that he landed in Ireland in 432AD and banished the snakes from the land. We are told, however, that much of what people know - or think they know - about Saint Patrick is disputed. What can be said for sure, is that, by the end of 5th century, Christianity had firmly taken root in the country.

Another misconception that is challenged, is the view that Ireland represented a relatively settled place for the church to grow, compared, for example, to the collapsing Roman Empire. This is incorrect. Ireland in this period was in a state of turmoil, as new dynasties were arising which would shape the political terrain of the country. Due to this, Saint Patrick bought protection with him, to each new territory he visited.

The issue of religious martyrdom is discussed. Martyrdom was described as the "seed of the church" by the theologian Tertullian. However, in Ireland, the martyring of Christians did not really occur. In fact, feeling in bad conscience about this, early Irish missionaries often went abroad, embracing, if not actively seeking, the possibility of martyrdom represented by those new, foreign lands!

The programme concludes by attempting to separate fact from fiction, when it comes to the famous tale of Saint Patrick and the snakes.


A UTV Production.

Produced by Rory Fitzpatrick

Directed by John Howard 

Presented by Paul Clark

Appearance by Prof. F. J. Bryne (UCD)



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