Gogarty: I Follow Saint Patrick

Pdf Gogarty, Oliver St. John, I Follow Saint Patrick, London: Rich & Cowen, MCMXXXViii
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I Follow Saint Patrick by Oliver St. John Gogarty was first published in 1938. It is the author's subjective historical investigation of the life of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland and the impact of the arrival of Christianity.

Gogarty travelled the length and breadth of Ireland visiting the locations mentioned in Irish folklore and Christian mythology surrounding the patron saint . He created his own historical interpretations mixed with wit and humour. He believed that tradition and folklore were more faithful recordings of the past than purely academic scholars were prepared to accept.

The book attempted to reconstruct who St. Patrick was, reimagine what pagan Ireland was like and how Christianity took hold and replaced the Druidic religion. Gogarty believed that St. Patrick introduced civilisation into a country that was dark and violent.

Gogarty credited St. Patrick with creating the personality of the Irishman he believed is approachable and uninsular and not despised for prigishness or bigotry. He claimed that the absence of the Patrician legacy of monasticism, teaching, learning and poetry in Ireland would be unthinkable.

Oliver St. John Gogarty (1878-1957) was an Irish poet, author, doctor, politician, conversationalist and athlete. His Irish Roman Catholic family were wealthy giving him access to the Anglo-Irish Protestant dominated political, intellectual and literary circles of late 19th century and early 20th century Dublin.

After his father died of a ruptured appendix, the young Gogarty was sent to boarding school in Limerick and Lancashire before he returned to Ireland to study at Clongowes Wood College. He decided to study medicine at the Royal University of Ireland.

He failed his examinations due to his extracurricular activities which included soccer, cricket, cycling, pranks, drinking and women. Gogarty also saved several swimmers from drowning. He later repeated his studies at Trinity College and became a professional otolaryngologist. Later in life Gogarty also became an aviator.

In Dublin, Gogarty made a wide range of friends which included literary figures such as W.B. Yeats and James Joyce. Joyce based the character of Buck Mulligan from his novel Ulyssess on Gogarty. Gogarty was a talented poet and competed for the Newdigate Prize at Oxford. He was also a prolific writer for his entire life.

Gogarty who favoured Irish autonomy within the British Empire helped to found the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party with his friend Arthur Griffth in 1905 and contributed to the The United Irishman. His opinions hardened as Irish Home Rule was delayed by World War I.

The 1916 Easter Rising was followed by the Irish War of Independence. Gogarty's home was an IRA safe house during the guerrilla war against British forces. He took the pro-Treaty side in the subsequent Irish Civil War and became a Senator in the Irish Seanad. Gogarty was kidnapped on the orders of anti-Treaty IRA leader Liam Lynch but made a daring escape by swimming the River Liffey.

After the defeat of the IRA in 1923, Gogarty continued to serve in Irish politics. However he felt alienated from independent Ireland following the emergence of Fianna Fail government led by Eamon De Valera in the 1930s. He also disapproved of the political influence of the powerful Roman Catholic church. Gogarty toured the U.S. in 1939 and settled in New York where he pursued his literary career. He died suddenly in 1957.

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