A number of the natives there gathered around him and heard with joy in their own sweet tongue the glad tidings of Redemption.
There too he performed his first miracle on Irish soil to confirm the honour due to the Blessed Virgin, and the Divine birth of our Saviour.
The chiefs and Brehons came in full numbers and the druids too would muster all their strength to bid defiance to the herald of good tidings and to secure the hold of their superstition on the Celtic race, for their demoniac oracles had announced that the messenger of Christ had come to Erin. Patrick arrived at the hill of Slane, at the opposite extremity of the valley from Tara, on Easter Eve, in that year the feast of the Annunciation, and on the summit of the hill kindled the Paschal fire. "O King", (they said) "live for ever; this fire, which has been lighted in defiance of the royal edict, will blaze for ever in this land unless it be this very night extinguished." By order of the king and the agency of the druids, repeated attempts were made to extinguish the blessed fire and to punish with death the intruder who had disobeyed the royal command.
But the fire was not extinguished and Patrick shielded by the Divine power came unscathed from their snares and assaults.
He relates in his "Confessio" that during his captivity while tending the flocks he prayed many times in the day: "the love of God", he added, and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.
Patrick who with mitre and crozier was arrayed in full episcopal attire, proceeded in processional order to Tara.He relates in his "Confessio" that he had to travel about 200 miles; and his journey was probably towards Killala Bay and onwards thence to Westport.He found a ship ready to set sail and after some rebuffs was allowed on board.Leaving one of his companions to continue the work of instruction so auspiciously begun, he hastened forward to Strangford Loughand there quitting his boat continued his journey over land towards Slemish.He had not proceeded far when a chieftain, named Dichu, appeared on the scene to prevent his further advance.