By Paddy Ryan

A British anthropologist recently selected an Irish coastal town as ‘the best town in the world to live in.’ All the indications are this is the charming town of Skerries in north Dublin. Fair play to this learned person for his conclusion but he was far from the first to make this discovery. Indeed, the patron saint of Ireland—Saint Patrick—is reputed to have made the same discovery almost two millennia ago.

It is believed that when Patrick returned to Ireland, he landed in Wicklow. Of course, the circumstances of his return were in complete contrast to his first arrival in this country when he was captured in west Britain and sold as a slave in County Antrim.

His six years in slavery were spent tending pigs on a hillside where he was often forced to eat the animal food. However, he appears to have learnt Gaelic during that dark period before managing to escape to his homeland from where he travelled to Gaul (modern France) and studied in a monastery.

When he surfaced in Wicklow, Patrick could not only speak the native tongue but he was also an ordained priest with a mission to bring Christianity to the Irish people. However, this does not seem to have impressed the people of Wicklow who drove him out, forcing him to escape by sea up the east coast. Landing close to Skerries, he set up home across from the present town on a small island that has since been named Inishpatrick, or Saint Patrick’s Island.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own Saint Patrick’s Day Annual