Click to Choose Language


Background to Project
Teachers' Resource Book
EPBC Books
Ordering Details
EPBC Contacts
Web Site Links
National Centre for Research in Children's Literature
European School Education Training course (ESET)
hoglund.JPG (7160 bytes)
Rationale - Re-telling - Translation - Activities - Reflection

Country: Ireland
Language: Irish
Title: Naomh Pádraig agus Crom Dubh (St Patrick and Crom Dubh) .
Author: Rosenstock G.
Publisher: An Gúm (1995)
ISBN: 1-85791-144-x
Chosen by: Celia Keenan
St Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Dublin 9, Ireland.

Rationale for choosing the book:
This book has been chosen not only because it is a highly acclaimed picture book, but also because it reflects an aspect of Irish folklore.

This light hearted comic version of a traditional Irish folk tale explores the differences between the Pagan Irish chieftain,Crom Dubh, who speaks Irish and the Christian Saint Patrick who speaks Latin. It explores possible misunderstanding between old Celtic pagan values of lavish hospitality and extravagant expressions of gratitude and new Christian values of prayer and restraint. The Gaelic Pagan chieftain Crom Dubh sends his servant boy with three gifts of extremely large joints of meat to the saint. St. Patrick expresses his gratitude not to the chieftain but to God, in what to Crom Dubh is a confusing Latin phrase 'Deo gratias'. An insult is suspected. Crom Dubh becomes more and more angry at what he perceives as St.Patrick's bad manners. He challenges Patrick. The saint responds with typical cunning . He weighs the meat, and the prayer written on pieces of paper. Miraculously the prayer weighs more. Crom Dubh is convinced and converted to Christianity. Anger is diffused.

P1. Crom Dubh was a pagan who lived in County Mayo in the time of St Patrick. Patrick and Cromb Dubh lived near each other and became good friends.
P2. One day Crom Dubh sent his servant to St Patrick with a present, a fine joint of meat.
P3. 'This is a gift from my master' said the servant boy. 'Deo Gratias' replied Saint Patrick.
P4. The boy went back to his master. 'Did Patrick thank me?' asked Crom Dubh. 'I don't know because I didn't understand what he said' answered the boy. ' He didn't speak in the Mayo dialect, perhaps it was Kerry Irish'.
P5. The next day Crom Dubh spoke to the boy again. 'I have another piece of meat. Give it to Patrick and see if he'll thank me'. So the boy set out for Patrick's house.
P6. The boy gave the second piece of meat to the saint, saying 'Here's another gift from my master'. Patrick merely said 'Deo Gratias'.
P7. 'Did Patrick thank me today?' asked Crom Dubh. 'I don't know what he said' answered the boy. He didn't speak in Mayo Irish, perhaps it was Cork Irish'. Crom Dubh was very unhappy at that.
P8. Next day Crom Dubh sent another piece of meat to Saint Patrick. 'Another gift from my master' announced the boy. 'Deo Gratias' said Patrick, and he said nothing more.
P9. The boy returned to his master. 'Well, what gratitude did he offer me today?' 'The same as on the other two days' replied the boy. 'Go back and tell him to come here immediately' said Crom Dubh angrily.
P10. Saint Patrick came to Crom Dubh's house. Crom Dubh accused him immediately. 'You didn't thank me for my three joints of meat' he said. 'I thanked you very much' said Saint Patrick. 'You didn't thank me at all' said Crom Dubh. 'Oh I most certainly did thank you' answered Saint Patrick.
P11. 'Look' asked Patrick, 'Have you got a weighing scales?' 'I have' said Crom Dubh. 'Have you got three joints of meat, as heavy and as fine as the three you sent as gifts to me?' asked Patrick. 'I have,' said Crom Dubh.
P12. 'Put them on the scales' ordered Patrick. Crom Dubh put the three joints on one side of the weighing-scales. St Patrick simply wrote 'Deo Gratias' three times on a piece of paper. Then he put the piece of paper on the other side of the scales. The piece of paper was much heavier than the three pieces of meat.
P13. 'Oh Patrick' said Crom Dubh, 'Please baptise me and all my household and family, for the love of God.' Crom Dubh and his people were baptised on that very day, the last Sunday in July, long long ago. Deo Gratias.

NB This is a working translation for educational purpose only.

Activities for use in school:
1. Any kind of comparative work on feasts and festivals across Europe, especially harvest festivals, summer festivals, national festivals etc.
2. Use in work on manners and customs across Europe eg In France it is polite to mop up ones plate with bread, in England the same custom is not polite at all. Help children to understand that sometimes what is perceived as rudeness is simply a different custom.
3. Use in work on confrontation and misunderstanding, how does Patrick avoid conflict?
4. In Irish schools this little story would be very useful around St Patrick's Day, the Irish National Festival, when it could be dramatised by the children in class.

Reflection: Focus on customs which reflect own culture. Discuss which of these could be shared with children in other European countries.

NB Further literature and language-based activities can be found in
Picture Books sans Frontières
available from or

The NCRCL website is hosted by Roehampton University

ncrcl November 2004