Each of the four provinces has its own remarkable stories and traditions about our beloved national apostle Saint Patrick, writes An Fear Rua …For example, near Graiguenamanagh, in the fair county of Kilkenny, not too far from the Ballyhale home of the Shamrocks, a pagan chieftain named Oireachall plotted to kill the saint. But Patrick’s chariot driver, Odhrán, overheard the plan and prevailed upon the saint to swap places with him. When a spear was thrown at the chariot, it pierced Odhrán’s heart and the saint’s life was saved. From Connacht comes a remarkable story from the Annals about a little known encounter between the saint and some camogie-playing princesses. Saint Patrick was making his first visit to Rathcrogan, the royal seat of the kings of Connacht, situated near Tulsk, in the county of Roscommon when this strange incident occurred.Near the clear spring of Clebach, not far from the royal abode, Patrick and his companions had pitched their tents and at early dawn were chanting the praises of the Most High, when the two daughters of the king-- Eithne, the fair, and Fedelma, the ruddy -- came there to bathe. The two of them, together with some other young women of the royal household, had been up early practising their camogie skills – overhead pulls, lift-and-strike, sideline cuts and the like – and had ended their training session with a robust game of seven-a-side. By the time they had ended their game and were strolling towards the rippling spring, with camáns slung on their shoulders, little rivulets of perspiration were running between their clavicles and their light, cotton tunics were clinging to the folds of their shapely abdomens and thighs. Astonished at the vision that presented itself to them, the royal maidens cried out: "Who are ye, and whence do ye come? Are ye phantoms, or fairies, or friendly mortals?" Saint Patrick replied: "It were better you would adore and worship the one true God, whom we announce to you, than that you would satisfy your curiosity by such vain questions." Although even as he said these words, the saintly man’s eyes could not help but quickly note the visions of athletic pulchritude before him.And then the princess Eithne broke forth into a series of questions."Who is God?""And where is God?""Where is His dwelling?""Has He sons and daughters?""Is He rich in silver and gold?""Is He everlasting? “Is He beautiful?""Are His daughters dear and lovely to the men of this world?""Is He on the heavens or on earth?""In the sea, in rivers, in mountains, in valleys?""Make Him known to us. How is He to be seen?""How is He to be loved? How is He to be found?""Is it in youth or is it in old age that He may be found?" Saint Patrick responded: "The God, whom we announce to you, is the Ruler of all things.""The God of heaven and earth, of the sea and the rivers.""The God of the sun, and the moon, and all the stars.""The God of the high mountains and of the low lying valleys.""The God who is above heaven, and in heaven, and under heaven.""His dwelling is in heaven and earth, and the sea, and all therein.""He gives breath to all.""He gives life to all.""He is over all.""He upholds all.""He gives light to the sun.""He imparts splendour to the moon.""He has made wells in the dry land, and islands in the ocean.""He has appointed the stars to serve the greater lights."He concluded: "But I desire by Faith to unite you to the Heavenly King, as you are daughters of an earthly king."The King of Connacht’s daughters, as if with one voice and one heart, said: "Teach us most carefully how we may believe in the Heavenly King; show us how we may behold Him face to face, and we will do whatsoever you shall say to us." And when he had instructed them in the Christian faith he said to them: "Do you believe that by baptism you put off the sin inherited from the first parents?" They answered: "We believe." Then the women were baptised, and were dressed in white garments. And they besought that they might behold the face of God. And the saint said to them: "You cannot see His face unless you taste death, and unless you receive the sacrifice." They answered: "Give us the sacrifice, so that we may be able to behold our Spouse." The ancient narrative adds: "With that, they slept in death, and they were placed upon a couch, arrayed in their white baptismal robes, with their hurleys laid out beside them."When the King of Connacht heard of this he was torn between a great rage and a deep sorrow. He immediately decreed that all the ash trees were to be cut down and uprooted and every hurley in every home in the county was to be broken in two and then burned. After that, he ruled that no woman of Roscommon would ever again take a hurley into her hands, but would only kick a Gaelic football.