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Established 16/3/2000
The Hill of Slane
Did St. Patrick light the Paschal Fire at Knowth?

From the Drogheda Leader newspaper, March 2003

Sunset at Hill of SlaneSAINT PATRICK may not have lit Ireland's first Paschal Fire at the Hill of Slane, as popular historical and folklore accounts would maintain, prominent archaeologists have said. Professor George Eogan, who excavated the Knowth passage mound for 40 years, raised the possibility that St. Patrick's fire was lit at Knowth and not at Slane.

According to tradition, Patrick and his followers landed at Colpe in the Boyne Estuary, and by evening reached a place called Ferta fer Feic (in English the "burial place of the men of Fiacc").
This location is usually associated with the Hill of Slane, according to archaeologist Dr. Geraldine Stout's book Newgrange and the Bend of the Boyne. But this has been disputed, Stout says.

Knowth from the airProfessor Eogan says Slane was never mentioned in the accounts and there is no archaeological or historical evidence that Slane was an important site at that time. The archaeologists are still unsure as to the exact location of Ferta fer Feic, with Professor Eogan saying it is likely to be near Rossnaree and suggesting the Paschal Fire could have been lit at Knowth, which was a hive of activity in the Early Christian period.

Dr. Stout feels it is possible the fire was lit somewhere in the Bend of the Boyne, but not necessarily at Knowth, and possibly even at Newgrange. Both of these monuments are visible from the Hill of Tara, from where King Laoghaire was supposed to have seen the fire.

The lack of mention of either Patrick or Ferta fer Feic in written placename legends may indicate the Paschal Fire was not lit there, Stout maintains.

Slane in ancient times | Slane in Christianity

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