Thursday, February 28, 2013

An extract from Rab's new book (which I illustrated)

And now for some shameless advertising...

Saint Patrick: How Croagh Patrick got its name

Below is an extract from Galway Bay Folk Tales, the new book written by Rab Swannock Fulton and illustrated by Marina Wild. The book retells the dark and strange myths, folklore and urban legends of Galway and the west of Ireland. The following is an account of Saint Patrick’s fight against pagans on Cruachán Aigli, the hill that would be later known as Croagh Patrick.

           When finally Patrick stepped a foot on the ground before Cruachán Aigli, pagan resistance erupted all around him, before, after, below and above him, with a savage and desperate ferocity. Druids and Immortals cast abominable spells, giants hurled rocks and witches used the subtlest of deceits. Satan and the Sea throw in their lot shrouding the landscape in terrible poisonous vapours. Patrick walked through it all, his love and grief blazing like a fire. 

            In the higher ramparts of Cruachán Aigli pagan scholars and students trembled behind the walls, whilst young guards gripped their weaponry and vowed to fall in the sacred hills defence.  Through fire and mist the figure of Patrick was glimpsed drawing hourly closer.  The terror that assailed him was reflected back a thousand fold on his enemies and spread out north, south, east and west.  

The pagans in the upper reaches now trembled and wept with fear as terrible reports and rumour fell amongst them cold and sharp as winter hail: every assault on the enemy only made him stronger; beyond Galway Bay the beautiful magical horse children of the original defeated Tuatha Dé Danann hurled themselves screaming off the cliffs above the spitting roaring Atlantic; the worlds beyond this were in chaos as Divinities struggled to agree stratagems, some vowing eternal war, others vanishing into dreams, a handful advocated switching sides to Christ, if only to avoid warfare without end. 

Patrick reached the final ramparts, but met no resistance there.  His triumphs had subdued the few pagans that remained behind the stone walls.  Soon Patrick was on the peak of the hill, the connecting point between this world and the realms beyond. Determined to cleanse the site of all traces of foul paganism, he vowed to fast there for forty days.  The enemies of Christ attempted a final assault, but the great black birds that attacked the praying Patrick were pushed back by a glittering host consisting of angels and souls of the Saved. 

Over the days and weeks of his fasting, peace came to Cruachán Aigli and the witnesses who witnessed the old man fasting on the hill top gladly converted to Christ.  The site of the evangelist’s triumph was soon referred to by the new devote name of Croagh Patrick. On the fortieth day Patrick, weak from hunger and thirst, stood up. Leaning on his crook he raised his right arm and began to slowly turn in a circle. His gaze and blessing reached across the entire island and soon nearly all the Irish willing embraced God’s light.

But Patrick’s triumph was not quite complete. As he turned around on the top of Cruachán Aigli he stumbled and so it was that his holy favour did not quite reach all the island’s inhabitants. The unblessed remained resolutely pagan - a malign cancerous presence in the pure Christian body of the Irish.  Was it simply age and battle weariness that caused Patrick to stumble, or had some pagan demon tripped him as a final jest? 

Another possibility is that Patrick himself was to blame. That when he fasted he was not humble enough before God’s power and grace. When the glittery host had saved him from the shrieking birds it was observed that one of the lights had momentarily alighted beside Patrick, placed a hand on his shoulder and whispered. ‘Enough.’ But the triumphant Patrick was determined to finish his fast and in this endeavour become the equal of Moses, Elijah and Christ.   

         The places remaining in the snare of Satan and paganism were said to include Erris in Mayo and Dunquin in Kerry. Of graver consequence was the failure to convert to Christ the three islands separating Galway Bay from the Atlantic.


Galway Bay Folk Tales is published by The History Press

For more about Rab, go to his blog

with Rab Swannock Fulton


  1. I think you've just piqued my interest - I must check out this book!!

  2. Ohh, this is so exciting! Wonderful illustration (and photo)!

  3. Hi Marina :),

    congratulations on illustrating a book :)!You must be thrilled :).I'm also very happy that we're able to see your face.
    You sure are a very pretty girl :)!
    All the best to you and the author of this book.


    1. Hi Jasmina, thank you so much for your kind words. I am always nervous about putting my work out there, but yes, also excited! xx

  4. Hello Marina, I've spent a little time over the last couple of days looking around your blog, dipping in and out of the categories and archives. I love the honesty of your words, you seem to have such a soft and gentle spirit. I love also the glimpses of your lovely home, inspiring me to embrace my own space with more love.

    I knew this would be a blog I'd return to when I read that you found a simple satisfaction in moving tealights from the big bag to the kitchen, as I do in moving mine from the big bag in the pantry to a kitchen drawer. Unexplainable to anyone who doesn't understand. My thoughts recently have also been of using only white bedlinen, despite the hairy and sometimes muddy footed dog.

    Congratulations on your book illustrating.

    1. Hi Jan, thank you so much for your warm and thoughtful comment - you have made my day! And I am delighted you understand the tealights! I love when that happens, these feelings of recognition when I read something, and it's lovely to get a response to things I write about.
      Oh yes, with a hairy four-legged white bedlinen can be tricky, but I think it is still worth it.
      Your name doesn't contain a link, so I presume you don't have a blog? If you do, let me know; I'd love to read it.
      Thank you,
      Marina x

    2. Hello again Marina.

      I don't have a blog, it's not something I've wanted to do, I've always thought I wouldn't be interesting enough! Also I do try to limit my time on the computer (although not always successfully), I don't like the addictive nature of blog hopping, the way a ten minutes look around can suddenly have become an hour or more. Time becomes so much more precious the older you get!

      I haven't found many blogs that I feel I want to return to so it's refreshing to find a new one that feels 'right' for me.
      Have a good week.

    3. Thank you, Jan. I know what you mean about time and the internet - I limit my computer time, too, and try to keep at least one day every week completely computer-free. And I also worry about not having anything to say, but then I remind myself that no one has to read my blog if they don't want to, and that is freeing. Sorry for replying so late; have a great weekend!

  5. Thanks Marina for posting up the extract. And thanks for all the amazing pictures. There's a couple of other extracts from the earlier in the book online if anybody want to check them out:

    Saint Patrick and the Serpent (with one of your wonderful illustrations) can be read in ‘This Is My World’, the blog of Nerine Dorman, editor, freelance writer, author of Inkarna and editor of my previous book Transformation. See:

    Extract Two: Saint Patrick on the Island of Strangers can be read in my own blog 'Marcus Marcus & the Hurting Heart'. See:

    Cheers dude! :-)