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This report is taken from PN Review 125, Volume 25 Number 3, January - February 1999.

Letter from Ireland David Wheatley

As is well known, Saint Patrick arrived in Ireland to Christianise the natives in 432. Less well known is the fact that on his arrival, in the south-eastern county of Wicklow, the saint was greeted by a very unChristian volley of stones. Patrick went north to try his luck elsewhere, but a more dauntless fellow saint decided to stay. He lost a tooth in the stony bombardment and became known as Manntan or 'gap-toothed': hence the Irish for Wicklow, Cill Mhantáin, the Church of Manntan. This is just one of the many fascinating things about that region I discovered during a recent sixmonth stint as Writer in Residence to County Wicklow.

The principal task I set myself for my residency was compiling an anthology of writing from and about the county, which I decided to call Stream and Gliding Sun after a line in Yeats's 'Stream and Sun at Glendalough'. Glendalough is the one Wicklow valley known to all visitors, but from Glencullen on the Dublin-Wicklow border to the Glen of Imaal twenty miles west there is a whole series of such glacial valleys that cut through the heart of the county, giving it a uniquely rugged aspect. In the northeast is Glencree, where Walter Scott was confronted by rioting paperworkers in 1825. It is here that Beckett's Mercier and Camier wander, coming down over the Featherbed mountain, and here that Synge sat on the rocky outcrop between Upper and Lower Lough Bray contemplating the whole valley ...


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