Ireland is the second largest of the British Isles and the third-largest island in Europe, lying to the west of Great Britain.

Tradition maintains that in AD 432 Saint Patrick (c. 385-461), arrived on the island and, in the years that followed, he worked to convert the Irish to Christianity. He is remembered on March 17, his feast day.

The Island of the Saints

Evangelization of Ireland began in the wake of the Council of Ephesus (431), in the fervor of the devotion to the Mother of God. Eventually Ireland came to be called "the Island of Saints," for its many monks who left to evangelize Europe, founding monasteries.

In the 8th century the Blessed Virgin Mary was commonly called "Sun of Our Race." Manuscripts of the time reveal a string of feasts dedicated to Our Lady: the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, the Annunciation, the Purification and the Assumption.

The calendar of Aengus at the beginning of the ninth century is very impressive for the ardor of the language used whenever the Blessed Virgin's name is introduced, while Christ is continually referred to as "Jesus Mac Mary" (i.e. Son of Mary).

Besides certain Latin hymns, a number of canticles, hymns and litanies celebrated the Blessed Virgin Mary in Irish, such as this very striking litany in honor of the Blessed Virgin. This composition may be as old as the middle of the eighth century.

Mistress of the Heavens,

Mother of the Heavenly and earthly Church,

Recreation of Life,

Mistress of the Tribes,

Mother of the Orphans,

Breast of the Infants,

Queen of Life,

Ladder of Heaven.

Saint Bernard and Cistercian Abbeys

The Danish invasions (792-1014) strongly opposed nascent Christianity. Saint Bernard, friend and biographer of Saint Malachy, transmitted a new fervor through the Cistercian monasteries. The Cistercian's Abbey of Dublin became a brilliant center radiating Marian devotion.

John Duns Scotus (c. 1266 - December 8, 1308), was one of the most important philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages. He argued for the Immaculate Conception of Mary and had considerable influence on Roman Catholic thought. Blessed John Duns Scotus O.F.M. was of Irish stock (Ireland was referred to as Scotia until the thirteenth century).

With the Dominicans, the recitation of the Rosary quickly became a family practice

In the 19th century the Irish emigrated throughout the world. Many migrants, deprived of Catholic priests, would calculate the time of the celebration of Mass in their native country and kneel, say the Rosary and make a spiritual communion in union with their fellow Catholics, long-deprived of civic rights.

The Legion of Mary was implanted in Dublin in 1921 by Frank Duff, who led many laypersons to serve and witness as missionaries.

Pope Saint John Paul II visited Ireland in 1979. He went to Dublin, Drogheda, Clonmacnois, Galway, Mynooth, Limerick, and Shannon, making a long stop at the Marian Shrine of Knock (Eire).