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Your sins are forgiven, go in peace.

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.
  • St Columbanus

Over thirteen or fourteen centuries, people tend to forget things. That's ok.

But it is time, in these parlous times, to remind our European friends of something that we did for them back in the seventh century which they seem to have conveniently forgotten.

Simply put, our missionaries taught them forgiveness. When the Irish monks passed amongst their European brothers, they did so with their famous tariff books, books that calibrated what penance needed to be exacted to forgive the sin involved. Before we got there with our tariff books, if you sinned you were doomed. That's what Augustine of Hippo said, and that's what everyone believed.

We stood up to that Augustinian nonsense, and spread the good news. “They (the Irish) saw the spiritual life as a constant series of little setbacks, laboriously compensated for before the next lapse. They used their tariff books to help layfolk who were oppressed by guilt and shame”, writes Diarmuid McCulloch in “A History of Christianity”.

It's payback time.

If we forgave Angela Merkel's ancestors their sins, then she has to forgive the Irish their foolish sins of becoming indebted: debt forgiveness. We did it for them, we invented it for them, and now they have to behave like Christians, and not like a bunch of miserable Calvinists. We will do our penance – no more Bulgarian apartments or Bulgari watches – and they will forgive us our debts.

With God on their side, Enda and Eamon have to invoke the spirit of Patrick and Columbanus at the EU summit. They should bring in Brendan The Navigator whilst they are at it.

Holy Ireland is back.

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