I always? knew I wanted to have and read this book – just hadn’t done it.? And now, thanks to the holiday weekend – I have!
The subtitle of How the Irish Saved Civilization, by Thomas Cahill is: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe.? Which is exactly what I learned at my father’s knee – that in our monasteries and centers of learning, we Irish kept and copied the books that contained all of Western civilization – Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Christian – the works of the Roman Empire.
As I learned at my father’s knee, so now I find reinforced in this tremendous, erudite and story-filled work by a scholarly Irishman.? And it’s a fun book, besides.? Centuries-old stories, fresh as the news today.
Cahill is able to show us with stories the points he wants us to understand – very Irish of him.? He backtracks and squiggles around, showing us Rome’s blindness to its own awful position, and presenting us with Augustine as the last classical man.
His stories of Patrick (his difficulties with his studies, for instance) make him real.? And the men and women, mostly of the cloth, who followed Patrick, and how they came to spread out over the continent.
He even makes a good case why Christianity has benefited the Irish, differently than those who received the original Roman version.? I think the Irish already had a good religion, and that Goddess Brigid served Her heavenly duties well.
That aside, this is a fascinating look at the broad sweep of history, and how we Irish, at one of the crucial hinges, made all the difference.? Hurray for us!