Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day

© Mark M. Hancock

Happy St. Patrick's Day to my Irish readers. May you eat and drink until you drop. And, what's better than St. Patrick's prayer to share with you:

This day I call to me:
God's strength to direct me,
God's power to sustain me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's vision to light me,
God's ear to my hearing,
God's word to my speaking,
God's hand to uphold me,
God's pathway before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's legions to save me.

Keep the Irish spirit high today.



Blogger markfromireland said...

Sorry I deleted that comment because I realised I transposed a lot of lines using the old dialect version rather than the standard version so here goes again:

How like you to pick one of the most beautiful of his prayers. That's part of his lorica (Lorica is Gaelic for Breastplate.)

Do you know the tradition behind it?

The prayer is actually quite long. But the Breastplate is a counterinvocation a prayer against a spell. The story goes that Patrick was cursed repeatedly by the Druids.

He and his converts were being given a rather rough time which in those days meant very rough indeed. However he continued to gain converts and most alarmingly for the Druids some of those converts were aristocrats. Patrick and twenty of his followers were on their way to the court of Laoghaire (Lee - uh -aruh) in Tara County Meath.

Laoghaire was the High King (Ard Ri "Chief of chieftains") of Ireland and is the Chieftain for whom Dún Laoghaire (Doon Leary) a large town now a suburb of Dublin with a wonderful harbour is named. When I was a schoolboy I used to cycle to Dún Laoghaire from Sandymount so that I could go fishing from the end of the harbour's piers. (Mackerel you've caught your self is especially delicious and even during Lent wasn't even slightly penitential the way my mother cooked it.)

Anyway back to St. Patrick; he and his companions were on their way to Laoghaire's court at Tara in what is now County Meath, a large group of Druids and their followers were lying in wait to attack and kill them. The story goes that God inspired Patrick with the Lorica and he and his followers chanted it as they made their way. As they passed the place of ambush the Lorica acted to befuddle the attackers by making it appear to them that what was passing was a Doe and twenty fawns. Shapeshifting was one of the most potent of Druidic magics so they should have taken the warning that anyone who just by praying could do this to twentyone people had a powerful God on his side and wasn't the sort of chap you'd want to tangle with.

Which is why when I was taught it during my first year as a schoolboy - Eek! that was 42 years ago - by the endlessly patient Mrs. Mc Larghaí the name she taught us for it was it's name in Irish "An Fáed Fíada" - "The Cry of the Deer.")

Here's the the first verse she taught us. It's the "important" one that every child in Ireland knew by heart - she taught us more and more of it over three years until eventually we had the whole prayer. This is what it sounds like in Irish I've transliterated between inverted commas here to how an English speaker would hear the prayer said in Irish.

Críost liom,
Críost romham,
Críost i mo dhiaidh,
Críost istigh ionam,

["Creeust lyum
Creeust row-am
Creeust i mo yee - ach
Creeust ishticht unam"

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ within me,]

Críost fúm,
Críost os mo chionn,
Críost ar mo lámh dheas,
Críost ar mo lámh chlé,

["Creeust foom
Creeust os muh ceeun
Creeust air muh lawmh yas
Creeust air muh lawmh clay"

Christ below me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right hand,
Christ on my left hand,]

Críost i mo lúi dom,
Críost i mo sheasamh dom,

["Creeust ih muh lee dum
Creeust ih muh shahsamh dum"

Christ in my sleeping,
Christ in my waking,]

Críost i gcrói gach duine atá ag cuimhneamh orm,

["Creeust i gcree gawch dinneh ataw egg coonamh urm."

Christ in the heart of all who think of me,]

Críost i mbéal gach duine a labhráionn lom,

["Creeust i mail gawch dinneh a llowureen lum,"

Christ in the mouth of all who speak of me, ]

Críost i ngach súil a fhéachann orm,

["Creeust i ngock sool a fayachan urm"
Christ in every eye that looks at me,]

Críost i ngach cluas a éisteann liom.

["Creeust i ngock clooas a ayashtan urm"

Christ in Every ear that listens to me.]

I've always thought it was a lovely prayer for kids. Especially the last few lines and it was one of the first ones I taught my own children.

3/18/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Fayrouz said...


Happy St. Patricks' Day.

Thank you for the story and the prayer's translation. That's really nice of you.

I asked my Mark to take this picture to let you know I'm celebrating St. Patricks's Day. I settled for Guinesss beer this year. But that's OK since it's the only beer I drink. Am I Irish?

I had to prepare dinner as my Mark has the flu. Poor guy.

3/18/2006 09:34:00 PM  

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