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Manchan's Tale - The Fact Behind the Fiction

Updated on March 11, 2017

Manchan;s Tale was set in 5th century Ireland. This was the time of the Druids and magic. To help separate the fact from the fiction, I've added some factual information below. You will be able to see where the fiction of the story varies from the historical account.

The Druids

The Druids were best known and remembered as religious leaders. Many gods were worshiped. Of them, the three gods of earth, air (wind), and fire were mainstays. Religious festivals filled their calendar year - none of them was the Festival of the Christening Snow.

Human sacrifices were given to appease the gods from time to time. A most fitting sacrifice would be one who was convicted of theft, murder, or some other crime. The sacrifice fulfilled a dual purpose of execution as well as calming the wrath of the gods. When a proper criminal could not be found, the innocent would be taken and offered to the gods.

The Druids were a class of high-ranking professionals not limited to the clergy. Many took up positions as lawyers, medical doctors, and politics. Although most were educated, they were forbidden by doctrine to write of their beliefs. Thus, most of what we know about the Druid life is nothing more than folklore that has been passed down from generation to generation.

The Druid practices began about 400 B.C. and continued to about the fifth century A.D. Slowly, with the rise of Christianity during that time, Druidism faded out. Still, today there are remnants of the pagan beliefs that surface from time to time - including human sacrifice. It would seem that there was a touch of magic attributed to the Druids as well.


Most often, the Druids would use horses only as a means to pull their chariots. Very rarely would horses, or any other animal for that matter, be used to charge or fight one on one. The belief was that animals, like humans, contain a spirit, and thus are sacred. In a time of battle, the warrior would dismount his horse and approach the enemy on foot.

In my mind, the Druid belief that animals are also God's children, thus sparing them from the fight, conflicts with the idea of a human fighting against another human in war.

Mag Mell

Celtic mythology holds to the teaching of a "plain of joy" called Mag Mell. It is a place of the dead, but yet completely opposite of the underworld and other realms of the dead.. it is pictured as a perfect island, or in some cases as a land at the bottom of the ocean. It is also known as Tir na n-Og or "land of youth." Think Peter Pan.

Maewyn, Manchan, and Brigid

Manchan;s Tale is really Maewyn's Tale. Maewyn Succat was born in Britain about 380 A.D., to wealthy parents and the son of a church deacon in Britain. It is believed that his father, Calpurnius, was only nominally a Christian, and Maewyn didn’t follow the Christian beliefs when he was growing up. He was rather an obstinate teen as many are today. History places the time of Maewyn’s life at the beginning of the Dark Ages.

It was during his sixteenth year that his family's estate was seized by Irish pirates. He was taken prisoner by the same and led captive to Ireland. There, he was sold a slave to an Irish Chieftain, and. he spent the next six years in Irish captivity.

During this time he learned the shepherd’s trade and had much time to recall his past religious teachings. As he thought on these things, God began to work in his heart, and he wholly gave himself to the Lord and to His work. Much of his day was spent in prayer and seeking the God he once learned about as a young child.It is also believed that during this time in Maewyn’s life that the desire to convert his new-found people to Christianity began to develop.

After living a life of slavery for six years, Maewyn believed the Voice of God was calling him to leave Ireland. After successfully escaping from his master, he traveled 200 miles to the sea. But he had reached a dead-end. If he could not cross the sea, he would have to remain a hunted man on the Emerald Isle.

He approached a ship's master, but without money, he was left with little choice. However, after much persuasion, he convinced the ship’s captain to take him back to Britain.

After three days of traveling the rolling sea, he arrived on Britain’s shore. Shortly after he arrived back in his native Britain, hardships were encountered. 28 days were spent wandering through wilderness surroundings with very little food, water, and proper shelter.

After a few years in Britain, Maewyn or Pádraig, believed God was calling him to return to his beloved Ireland as a missionary, to which vision, he was obedient. He writes of his call “I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: "The Voice of the Irish". As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: "We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us." It rings of the Apostle Paul’s call to the area of Macedonia.

After a rigorous time of Bible study that lasted 15 years, Maewyn was commissioned to go to the Irish. His dual mission was to encourage and minister to the Christians already present in Ireland and to introduce Christ to those who had not yet heard.

He arrived in Ireland in 432 A.D It was during this time that he began to use the name Pádraig, or in the old Irish, Patricius.

When Pádraig returned, he was not readily accepted, which forced him to move from place to place. He traveled through the land of Ireland planting churches and ordaining church leadership, leaving behind a string of Gospel witnesses. He was not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, but he was quite influential in its early development.

During his ministry, many were brought to Christ. Two of which by name were Manchan and Brigid. Both were also influential in their own way as they repeated the story of God’s everlasting grace to those who would come to Christ. The same, free gift is still available today for those who choose Him.

His ministry ended on the unofficial date of his death – March 17, 462 A.D.

Maewyn Succat, known as Pádraig later in his ministry, is known to us today as Saint Patrick. He, along with his converts, Manchan and Brigid gave Ireland the Light of the World.

Thank you!

I appreciate all of you who have taken time from your busy schedule to comment and/or read Manchan's Tale. It's been a joy to have you along for the ride.The western world, along with many others would not be the same today if it were not for people like Maewyn, Manchan, and Brigid.

It was not an easy life for these people, but they saw past the present to a home eternal in the future. That is where they laid up their treasure. Moth and dust corrupt here on earth, but Patrick chose to secure his rewards by laying them at the feet of Jesus. Religion says, what must I do to reach God? God says, "Look what I've done to reach you. I sent you my only Son to pay your sin debt - to be your sin-bearer." Will you accept Him today?

© 2017 William Kovacic


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