Saturday, 15 March 2014

How Saint Patrick Never Drove the Non-Existent Snakes from Ireland - or Not

The National Geographic debunks the legend that St Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland - just in time for St Patrick's Day. A kind of early-spring equivalent of those bishops that like to claim there were 24 wise men, or Jesus was born in a bouncy castle, at Christmas.

But I wonder. The story is based upon the fact that they've never found a fossil. Well, fair enough. But they'd never seen a living coelacanth until they discovered a living coelacanth. Finding something is positive proof, but negative proof is always a bit trickier. It's only 300 years ago that you could have said there was no evidence of bog bodies in Ireland. But it didn't mean there weren't any, did it?

And then the claim that snakes never got to Ireland, and then couldn't get across from Britain because of the sea. Let's consider.

Galapagos Tortoises crossed 1,000 miles from South America to breed. And they can barely swim. Unless Noah dropped them off, of course.

It's  about 100 miles from England to Ireland. And snakes can swim pretty well.

So I'm thinking - maybe there were snakes in Ireland. Probably weren't, on the basis of evidence, but not impossible.

And then let's consider - St Patrick throwing the snakes out of the Emerald Isle is called "a legend" by everybody.

So the National Geographic is using scientifically dodgy reasoning to go out of its way to debunk what everybody knows is a "legend".

Frankly, thinking about it, I don't know why I've bothered.


  1. Just to suspend disbelief further for a moment. If St George went around slaying dragons, St Patrick killing snakes, St Andrew -----killing haggis.
    Only St David killed nothing but leeks.
    But just think what his breath must have killed..

  2. As you say , it's the a priori circular reasoning from a secularist agenda , rather than wanting to defend any particular miracle - Saints often are surrounded by them, if not always - that backed up St Patrick's teaching.Im sue there were miracles - Im just unsure about the accounts we have,
    We are lucky with St Patrick - his "confessions" are mostly extant and nearly complete.
    Miracles DO happen.
    But they often end up getting passed on orally over the generations more like a Musichall act by a magician.As so presented and embroidered centuriues later - well that's what we've got.
    Much , much was written down at the time or soon after .
    So now, who do we have to thank for burning nearly all of that ,99.9%, not only in Ireland but also England and Wales?

  3. Everyone knows the leprechauns eat all the snakes and used the bones to make musical instruments, hence no fossils.

    You can't "scientifically" prove they didn't...!

    1. First catch your experimental population of leprechauns. Bait the traps with gold (or Guinness). As a control population, I would suggest Brownies. With the demise of high street cobblers in many places, there are loads of shoes with dodgy soles to tempt them.

      Place in separate cages and introduce snakes. Wait 48 hours and listen for signs of "Danny Boy".


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