The Evolution of Irish Heroes

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Ireland was once a Celtic nation, full of lore and myth about great heroes, nature spirits, faerie folk, and all manner of strange monsters and giants. Figures like Cuchulainn and Finn McCool (to use their simplified anglicized names) were once the gold standard for anyone hoping to become a heroic figure. Times change, and with the coming of Christianity the warlike and more primal culture of the Celts gave way to personalities like Saint Patrick, known for his conversions, baptisms, and driving away some snakes. Many folklorists and historians don’t actually think the snake story is meant to be literal, as snakes haven’t been present in Ireland since before the last Ice Age. Instead, it has been used as a metaphor (in more recent times) for Patrick’s influence in driving out the “evils” of Celtic paganism within the Christian religion.

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