A bit of (Slightly Belated) Blarney

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March 18, 2013 by Gail Armstrong

Something a bit different today…in honour of St. Patrick’s Day, I went looking for images of St. Paddy in illuminated manuscripts — alas, with limited success, but I did find a few AND, to my delight, I found a few impressive modern illuminations that drew on him as their theme.

Here, for example, is a gorgeous e-card designed by Katie Davies and offered for sale through her website, Katie’s Cards (http://ecards.katiescards.com/623tag/st-patricks-e-card):


She describes it as ‘cheeky’ depiction – I find it beautifully done with lovely jewel-tones and impressive detail.

Here’s work from another talented artist who created a spectacular image of St. Paddy in the wonderful celtic knot-work style, and sells it in the form of a jigsaw puzzle:


The artist is Rachel Arbuckle. Here’s what the website says about her background and technique:

Dublin born artist Rachel Arbuckle has always been fascinated by our Celtic heritage. Inspiration found in the intricate knotwork adorning the ancient manuscripts, stone and metalwork,coupled with Rachel’s love of a good story, have combined to produce some of the most popular images in contemporary Irish Celtic art. Mythological warriors rub shoulders with ancient historical figures and intertwine with animals, birds and fish rendered in the artist’s unique style. Her colours, although modern, emulate the softness of the natural pigments used by the Celts and a discerning eye will recognise shades of both Tuscany, where Rachel currently lives, and the Beara Peninsula, where she thrives on the rugged West Coast of Ireland.

Rachel graduated from Dublin’s National College of Art and Design in 1990. In 1991 her first designs were launched onto the Irish market. Today her work is available worldwide, bringing a taste of Ireland to the four corners of the earth.

Here’s another beauty by artist Daniel Mitsui:



The artist describes the work as follows:

St. Patrick is drawn in the style of 6-9th century Northumbro-Irish art, surrounded by decorative knotwork, lacertine animals, geometric patterns and rune-like lettering. He wears a mitre and holds a cloverleaf representing the Holy Trinity. The lettering reads Sanctus Patricius (St. Patrick).
This is an ink drawing on a 3 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ piece of Bristol board. I drew it using fine-tipped pens; calligraphers’ inks applied with brushes; and 23k gold leaf.

While the original has been sold, a signed, open-edition giclée print of this drawing can be yours for $15…details on the artist’s website at the URL above.

Here’s a glimpse of St. Patrick in an illuminated manuscript from The Huntingdon Library’s collection. The image is a detail from the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine. It dates from the late 13th century, artist unknown;



No snakes in the picture alas, just St. Paddy looking holy and humble. (I’d hoped to find an ‘action shot’…)

For any who don’t know, St. Patrick was a 5th century Romano-British missionary and bishop in Ireland. He was captured at 16 and taken to slavery in Ireland, escaped and later returned there as a cleric. He is popularly credited with having driven all snakes from the Emerald Isle, supposedly having chased them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast (his fast, not theirs…).

And last but not least, one of my favourite images… It’s not actually an image of St. Patrick – not even an Irish image, in fact , but an image that I think is quite appropriate to the way people the world over actually celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Yes, it’s an image of a monk sneaking a quick cup of some warming goodness…


It’s probably sacramental wine, rather than green beer or a healthful dark stout, but I’m sure it left him feeling a wee bit merrier and more festive than he did before. And he pretty much shares St. Paddy’s taste in robes and haircuts, judging by the image directly above!

This delightful image originates from Li Livres dou Santé, an early medical manuscript which apparently espoused the medicinal value of a bowl of wine a day, written by Aldobrandino of Siena (France, late 13th century) (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Monk_tasting_wine_from_a_barrel.jpg).

A belated Slainte! to you all in honour of St. Patrick, snake-chaser and all round good fellow!


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