10 Irish Books: Reading Your Way Through St. Patrick’s Day

About St. Patrick

There are many history books and some fiction choices. If you really want to know the man, start with his writings. Two exist: St. Patrick’s Confession

Book of Armagh page

A facsimile page from the Book of Armagh where St. Patrick’s Confession is found. Held at Trinity College in Dublin

and his Letters to the Soldiers of Coroticus. The letter is shorter and meant as an excommunication for Coroticus whose men struck down new converts. The Confession is much longer and is a bit of a biography where we learn about the man.

“I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts.”

But of course his story does not end there. Here are some reading suggestions, in no particular order.

Fiction About St. Patrick

I read this many years ago.

1. Patrick, Son of Ireland by Stephen R. LawheadPatrick by Stephen Lawed

 

I haven’t found much out there. If you know of any St. Patrick’s novels, please leave them in the comments.

2. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie DePaola

Patrick post by Cindy Thomson

Learn About Ireland

Of course you can read many books about leprechauns, if you choose. But if you are like me and want more history, here some suggestions.

3. Celtic Wisdom, Treasures From Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Celtic Wisdom by Cindy Thomson

Even though it’s short, I’m still proud of the early history squeezed into these page with color photographs. If you’d like an autographed copy, let me know. Click on the picture.

 

About Ireland in General

4. Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebookDid you know there are three patron saints of Ireland? (If you’ve read Celtic Wisdom, you do know that!) I still have print copies of Brigid of Ireland, or you can get one on your Kindle (or the Kindle app on your computer) for just a few bucks.

But there are plenty more choices than just my books!

5. How The Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill

 

How the Irish Saved Civilization, top Irish books Cindy Thomson

 

A condensed, but still useful, overview of Irish history according to the influence of the Christian monks.

6. Ireland, a Novel, by Frank Delaney

Ireland by Frank Delaney, Irish books Cindy Thomson

Featuring a seanchai, said to be the last of the itinerant storytellers, I really enjoyed this one.

7. Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford

 Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford, Irish books Cindy Thomson

Rutherford writes Sagas, spanning generations of characters. No one offers so much history in a  500 or so pages like he does.

8. The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

The Tea House by Sharon Owens, Irish Books Cindy Thomson

For a different pace and a great glimpse into modern Ireland. Funny and entertaining. Owens has others as well.

9. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry/Cindy Thomson Irish books

Barry is a gifted writer so you should check out all his books. I enjoy these types of stories where an elderly character tells about her past.

10. In Search of Ancient Ireland by Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton, companion to the PBS Series

In Search of Ancient Ireland by McCaffrey and Eaton/Cindy Thomson Irish books

Truly, if you want to know about Ancient Ireland, read this book. Excellent!

 

Of course there are many more. What Irish books would you recommend for St. Patrick’s Day reading?

You Can Have a Say in What Gets Published

It’s a new world in publishing!

No longer must readers complain that the books they’d like to read aren’t being published. Or music, for that matter. You can help bring the creative works you are interested in to life through crowd funding.

Publishing Involves Financial Risks

Some people blame traditional publishers, thinking they have tons of money and power. But truly publishing a book costs a great deal of money. That’s why I can’t do it myself for low cost–not do it well anyway. Did you know the vast majority of books never earn out the advance against royalties the publisher gives the author? Publishers make money, of course, but most of their profits come from just a few best selling authors.

BUT, readers can still have a say if they want to support “less than best-selling” authors.

Two Things You Can Do Right Now

1. If you are eager to see the publication of the third book of the Ellis Island series come to market, you can help with as little as five dollars. https://pubslush.com/project/5010

2. Share this photo below and more you’ll see from time to time if you like my Facebook Page.

https://pubslush.com/project/5010

https://pubslush.com/project/5010

Keep Telling Your Friends That Everyone Can Have a Say in What Gets Published!

I Need Your Help

Cindy Thomson's novel Sofia's Tune is coming!Bringing You Sofia’s Tune

As many of you know, I’ve been working on book 3 of the Ellis Island series and I’m going to be publishing it myself. I haven’t given up on traditional publishing but I am becoming what is referred to as a “hybrid” author–some of each. I like the way Sofia’s Tune is taking shape. If you are a fan of the series, I think you are going to like it. But the question was, how to bring it to you. It’s not as simple as typing it up and sending it to Kindle Publishing. A good book must have good editing, and a good cover. Those things cost money, and so, that is why when people ask me when it will come out I’ve had no answer. Until now.

Crowd Funding

You may have heard of it. Lots of musicians are using crowd funding to get their music published. I heard of a site called Pubslush that is focused on books and magazines. It made sense to me that readers who are anxiously waiting for a book could have a say in when it gets published. While you donate money, you do get a reward, which depending on the level can be a copy of the finished product, some gifts, even the ability to have a say in the cover and name characters.

Funding Sofia’s Tune

So I’m all set up on Pubslush! Click here! I’ve sent my goal to deliver my the end of this year. I’m hoping I can get on a really good editor’s schedule in time to make that happen. I write books for readers, so this made perfect sense to me. I hope you’ll support my campaign!

 

Support Sofia’s Tune! Click Here!

Ireland’s Connection to Valentine’s Day

The Irish St. Valentine Connection

This post originally appeared on my blog, Celtic Voices.
A Victorian ValentineHappy St. Valentine’s Day!You’ve probably read on other blogs that there were at least three martyred saints named Valentine, one of which is said to have died on February 14, thus the date of this observance. You may have read that just like other church observances, this one was set to coincide with a pagan festival, to draw attention away from it, in this case a fertility feast. You’ve probably also read that the exchange of valentine cards originated during Victorian times.

But did you know about the Irish connection? In the nineteenth century there was a Carmelite priest who was well known for his preaching and his service to the poor. Fr. John Spratt helped establish the Irish Carmelite order and was responsible for acquiring for the church the property that had once housed a 13th century Carmelite monastery on Whitefriar Street in Dublin in 1825. He visited Rome in 1835 and was invited to speak to the Jesuits the following February and was transported there in the carriage of the Cardinal who was the Pope’s advisor on affairs in England and Ireland. He visited more cities but somehow on that journey he was awarded with the relics of a 3rd century martyr, Saint Valentine.

Whitefriar Street Church
Photo by William Murphy

That is how St. Valentine’s remains (at least in part) came to be held at Whitefrair Street Church in Dublin, one of the city’s largest churches. They were forgotten for a time because the shrine was built in modern times.

Here is a photo of the outside of Whitefriar Street Church. I haven’t been there, but it looks like you could walk right past it without realizing the history it contains. Update: I can now say I have been there!

It seems to me that since so little is known about St. Valentine, Fr. Spratt might be the more interesting figure. He certainly gets lost in the story. He was charitable and showed the love of Jesus to the starving, the orphans, the homeless on the streets of the city where he was born and lived most of his years and died. He was so loved by the people that his death was mourned greatly. His example for the rest of us is something to strive for. I love my sweetheart, truly, but romantic love was not what the feast day was originally focused on. Just something to think about. I still think you should enjoy your chocolate today!
:-)

Box of Chocolates
Photo by
By Svadilfari


References:
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/92645667/FATHER-JOHN-SPRATT-BELOVED-OF-DUBLINS-POOR

http://attractions.uptake.com/blog/st-valentine-dublin-ireland-9215.html

http://www.carmelites.ie/ireland/Whitefriar%20St/valentine.htm

A Happy St. Brigid’s Day Giveaway!

It’s St. Brigid’s Day! I hope this day will find you reflecting on the generosity of this Irish saint known to us from legends and stories. Did you know Brigid is one of three patron saints of Ireland?

2010-10-11_09-42-26_406

St. Brigid in the center of these windows in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh, Northern Ireland.

The History

There is much that is known and much that is speculated about St. Brigid. I’ve blogged about some of it. The murals below depict some of the stories. (From St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh.)

2010-10-11_09-45-10_241 2010-10-11_09-45-50_570 2010-10-11_09-46-22_439Learning More History

Celtic Wisdom by Cindy ThomsonIf you’d like to know more about St. Brigid and other ancient Irish saints, enter below for a chance to win a copy of my book Celtic Wisdom: Treasures From Ireland. I’ve devoted an entire chapter to her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Giveaways to Celebrate St. Brigid’s Day!

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebook

Come back Feb. 1 for my final St. Brigid giveaway!

For Kindle Readers

Goodreads only allows print giveaways, and I don’t want Kindle readers to be left out. So, here’s a giveaway for you! If you don’t actually have a Kindle device, you can get the Kindle app for your computer or tablet (it’s free, click here to learn more.)

 

 

 

 

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A Giveaway to Prepare for St. Brigid’s Day!

In honor of the upcoming St. Brigid’s Day, I thought I’d host a Goodreads giveaway for a print copy of Brigid of Ireland. Please share!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Brigid of Ireland

by Cindy Thomson

Giveaway ends February 04, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Getting Ready for St. Brigid’s Day

Tired of winter?

Don’t worry. Soon it will be St. Brigid’s Day.

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson, ebookIn many parts of Ireland St. Brigid’s Day signifies the beginning of spring. Similar to Ground Hog’s Day, folks would look for signs that warmer weather was coming. Count the hedgehogs you see. Note the new lambs being born. Return to your fishing boat. It’s St. Brigid’s Day!

Why St. Brigid?

I’m often asked how I got interested in St. Brigid. The answer is in her stories—or rather the stories told about her. Unlike St. Patrick who left some of his writings for prosperity, the stories about the life of St. Brigid were written at least a hundred years after her death. But they still make fascinating reading, even when you take into account that monks often wrote these as a kind of propaganda—our saint is better than your saint so you pilgrims should come to Kildare to spend your coins and trade your goods for blessings and sacred inspiration.

Hmmm. Maybe this was a type of storytelling competition. I would give the upper hand to Cogitosus, the monk at Kildare who wrote The Life of St. Brigit the Virgin and to the fifteenth century scribe of Beatha Bhrighdi (The Life of Brigid) found in the Leabhar Breac (The Speckled Book.)

A Story or Two About Brigid

Some brief examples:

From the Leabhar Breac on Brigid’s birth:

“The prophet said that the child that would be brought forth on the morrow at sunrise, and neither within the house nor without, shall surpass every child in Ireland.”

Apparently, Brigid’s mother gave birth to her as she was coming in from the morning’s milking. She slipped on the threshold, fell, and right there Brigid was born, just as the prophet had predicted: neither inside nor outside the house.

In my book, Celtic Wisdom: Treasures From Ireland, I recount the legend of Brigid and her father’s cherished sword. Apparently Brigid had been so generous with the poor that her father decided he could no longer afford to keep her. He decided to put her into the King of Leinster’s service.

St. Brigid mural

Mural at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh showing St. Brigid and the King of Leinster

Dubthach took Brigid in his chariot and traveled to the castle. He bid her to stay put outside while he inquired of the king. While he was gone, a beggar happened by. Being away from the dairy, the supply of food from which she had fed the poor, Brigid searched for something to give the poor man and spotted the gleam of metal in the sun. She pulled out her father’s sword from beneath some blankets. It was not an ordinary sword, but one with a jewel-encrusted hilt. Just as she was handing it over to the beggar, her father returned with the king. Dubthach declared that this was just the reason he had to be rid of her. The king, being as wise as his position required, asked Brigid whether, if she were to be under his authority, she would give away his cattle and possessions. Brigid answered truthfully. If she had all the wealth of the King of Leinster, she would give it away to the poor in the name of God. The king was humbled by this reply and told her father that she was far nobler than either of them. He gave Dubthach a sword to replace the one given away and granted Brigid (who had been her father’s slave) her freedom.

Stories > Novel

Story after story declared Brigid’s heart for people and how God showed her favor. I thought, what if those things actually did happen? What would that look like? And then I wrote a whole novel about her. I still enjoy her stories and am inspired by her generosity and selflessness.

St. Brigid’s Day is this coming Sunday. You might weave a cross or bake some bread and look forward to the generosity of the rebirth of the earth—spring!