nto the darkness of the Gentiles came the light of Christianity.
Seeing the dawning of a new light from the East, the old gods of
Ireland fled away, diminishing and fading into the myths and legends
of the sacred isle. The next great invasion was at hand. This
invasion, however, was not one of conquering kings, giants and
mighty men, but of men meager of stature and worldly import,
whose message of love and self-sacrifice would turn the
ancient world upside down.
Thus begins the second section of
Mysterious World: Ireland,
"The History". With the coming of Christianity came not only the message of the Gospel and its emphasis on forgiveness and peace, but a sea change in the way that the Irish communicated. With the written Word came the concept of literacy and writing, and just as Christianity transformed Irish culture, the switchover from oral tradition to literature, from the spoken word to the written, transformed the very concept of history in Irish thought and tradition.
Christianity literally transformed ancient Irish culture from within which, by that time, had devolved from a series of heroic conquests during the Invasions period to a muddle of petty squabbles, with petty kings fighting to maintain increasingly smaller and smaller territories.
But it was not through force of arms that Ireland finally was conquered, but through the new Christian concept of forgiveness.
"This concept ... was the key that broke the cycle of violence that had held the sacred island enthralled. Over time, the ability to forgive one’s neighbor brought about the stability that was necessary for old grudges to be forgotten, new alliances to be forged, regional governments to be established and, eventually, one king to rule over the land. Thus, where force of arms had failed, in time — through forgiveness — Ireland was finally conquered."
FOLKLORE & MYTHOLOGY
THE COMING OF CHRISTIANITY
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