My doctoral dissertation concluded with this story from my Ireland travels. After I completed research on the transforming missiological leadership of St. Patrick, i had the pleasure of travelling through Ireland to tie off my studies. For a week i drove around the emerald isle in a stick-shift, other-side-of-the-road volkswagen. I visited the earliest known Christian archaeological sites, and the latest pagan Celtic sites. All i can say is the trip was glorious.
The first day i was in Ireland, I drove straight from Belfast's airport to Patrick's reputed grave.
After a time of reflection and journalling around the huge burial stone, i then obeyed my English friends' instructions (I had been in a monastery in northeast England for a week before, the Northumbria Community) - go to the first pub you find and order a Guiness. I followed their lead. The results are as follows, and are recorded as the concluding section of my doctoral dissertation on St. Patrick. I pray that I could actually be the answer to my own prayer, to post-Christian culture in Charlotte NC. I hope you enjoy:
The town of Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, is the reputed burial place of St. Patrick. A great stone bearing a carving of a Celtic cross and the inscription “Padraig” lies beside a church on a hill. Down the road, the first pub on the right celebrates four hundred years of continuous service.
After visiting the burial site, the American traveller slipped into Denvir’s pub on a rainy June evening (2005). While journaling thoughts inspired by proximity to Patrick, conversation is begun, in the Irish way, over a pint of Guinness offered to a stranger. Cathal (ca-hal) is a twenty-two year old, fresh in from his father’s wake. His offer to buy the American ‘writer’ a drink is hospitable, particularly considering the circumstances.
Pleasantries are exchanged, cultural jokes indulged. It comes out that Cathal’s late father’s name was Padraig (Patrick). A second Guinness is poured, the conversation turns serious as Cathal’s eyes suddenly brim with tears as he recalls his loss.
MM: “What a tremendous loss – your father, so young, so suddenly. I’m here because of the strong leader his namesake was – Padraig, Patrick.”
C: “Ah yes, I heard he was…Protestant…eh?”
MM: “Patrick was part of the Catholic Church. He fascinates me because of the way he stood for the hope you are wishing for and speaking about right now – that all is not futile, that God exists, God is good, and there is more on the other side of death.”
C: “I know these things are true, somehow.”
The conversation moved to the back room, where Cathal’s friends gathered to drink, smoke, and talk the evening away after the wake. The American 'writer' was invited down. Football, life and death were visited as topics, with Cathal’s sister offering neo-druidic thoughts, and the others wisps of philosophy, hopefulness, and stark naturalism. Despondence ruled over hope in the words and countenances of those gathered, none of whom had ever attended church regularly their entire young lives. Genuine interest was expressed in the American’s talk of a post-Protestant/Catholic Jesus, and humanity’s destiny found in his story, including the souls of the recently and anciently mourned Padraigs.
The private room quieted, more Guinness was poured, then Cathal spoke. “I think Jesus must be the way. If church were like this, where priests just simply talked about God and life from the heart without talking down to everyone, people would listen. And it would be good.” The visitor invited Cathal and his friends to try an experimental form of ‘church’ the following week – Ikon.
The American traveler left, walking while lifting up hands in the cobblestone street and praying for Cathal to encounter a Jesus-community that speaks his post-Christian, neo-barbarian language. The traveler asked God to raise up an apostolic leader for this generation, in the spirit of Patrick, a leader whom God might use to transform disaffected people into a gathering, a movement, a church. Who will that leader be? For twenty first century Ireland? For post-modern America? Whom will the Lord send?
 Closing reflection from the author’s Ireland travel journal.
 The connection of Patrick’s burial to Downpatrick is based upon legend. The pointed hill in the middle of town was the ancient seat of tribal power in northern Ireland (Ulster) during the time of Patrick’s arrival. There is no solid evidence for the location of his resting place in Downpatrick or elsewhere.