According to Irish lore, Saint Patrick scattered the serpents and drove them into the sea, though most naturalists are convinced that larger reptiles were never part of our fauna.
Now it's emerged that the myth may have come about because of a too-literal translation of an ancient sixth century text called the Dinnshenchas.
The text carries an account of a sect called the Crom Cruich, who used the symbolism of the snake. In time, Crom Cruich eventually became a powerful force in
"Crom Cruich which literally means bloody crescent, was a pagan site of worship near the
"The Crom Cruich cult were very bloodthirsty with the faithful expected to sacrifice their first born in his honour to assure a successful harvest. The annual slaughter took place on the pagan feast of Samhain, on November 1, each year," explains historian, Thomais Moriarty, who specialises in pre-Christian
It's recounted in the text that Saint Patrick marched on the place with a band of well-armed missionaries, mocked its demons, blessed the place afterwards and then destroyed the site.
"By all accounts, a major battle took place, but Patrick and his well-armed followers won the day.
"The people feared terrible retribution from the pagan god afterwards, but it never came to pass, and from that point onwards, the cult's grip was effectively broken in
According to Brendan Scott of