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Not everyone realises that there are two Latin works, still surviving, that can definitely be attributed to St Patrick’s own authorship. Composed in the fifth century and preserved in manuscripts dating from the 800s onwards, these are the very oldest texts, in any language, written in Ireland that are still extant.

These texts prove that St Patrick really existed, because they allow us to define the historical Patrick as the person who wrote them. This real St Patrick is thus the very first recordable individual that we can identify for certain in Ireland. The Royal Irish Academy has published his writings in a freely accessible form online, both in the original Latin and in a variety of modern languages (including Irish).

Designed to be of interest to the general public as well as to academic researchers, the St Patrick’s Confessio Hypertext Stack also includes such features as:

  • digital images of the medieval manuscripts involved
  • a specially commissioned historical reconstruction that evocatively describes life in pre-Viking Ireland
  • informative essays by specialists in the field
  • audio presentations
  • some ten thousand internal and external digital links
  • a major bibliography of scholarship on St Patrick

The HyperStack, which was funded for three years under the Irish government’s Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (Cycle Four), provides free access here(link is external) to a piece of heritage that can be claimed by the most diverse components of Irish society.