Literature Ireland

The Island of Saints and Scholars

Sean McMahon

Though the description Insula Sanctorum et Doctorum was not actually written down until the sixteenth century, Ireland's fame as the island of saints and scholars had then been established for more than six hundred years. That reputation was won mainly in what might otherwise have really been the Dark Ages. The Christian faith which had collapsed over most of Europe with the decline and fall of the western Roman empire still survived on the rocky fringes of the Atlantic seaboard. The 'pilgrims for Christ' as these Irish voyagers called themselves, spent the rest of their lives relighting a candle in the darkness and in spite of terrible deprivations, not least homesickness, re-establishing not only Christianity but the glories of classical learning which had fallen into their safe keeping. This book lists both saints and scholars (often in the same personality), their foundations and the works that made the period Ireland's truly golden age.

The Mercier Press 2001

Translated into: Polish

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