Knowledge of early Christianity in Ireland has come mainly from written text sources.
Little of the material evidence of Ireland's early years remains with much of the information about early Christian Ireland gathered from written sources rather than from monuments or shrines.
The Christianity of Ireland was a powerful force exerting mighty influence at home and abroad.
In 431, Christian writer and disciple of Augustine of Hippo, Prosper of Aquitaine, wrote,
Ad Scotum in Christum credentes, to the Irish believing in Christ, Palladius has sent use their first bishop
This is a clear indication that prior to 431 when Palladius came to organise them, there was a sufficient body of Christians already in Ireland to warrant his mission. It is thought that these Christians were located mainly in the south, an area which had been in close contact with the mainland of Europe. It is considered that they were organised on a diocesan basis, similar to how the church was administered in Europe. There are no certain relics of this early period of Christianity in Ireland with the possible exception of a reliquary box found with a skeleton in a stone lined grave beneath the round tower in Dromiskin, County Louth.
A carefully hollowed stone box with a sliding lid containing a smaller wooden hollow box also with a sliding lid and secured by a bar of bronze.
It is not clear how long the Roman system of diocesan organisation lasted but it was not too long before Patrick, the successor of Palladius, was able to the write that the sons and daughters of the Irish were in great numbers becoming monks and virgins of Christ. In the 5th century, monasticism arrived in Ireland.
'Heritage: Island of Saints' was broadcast on 12 July 1967. The presenter is Dr Joseph Raftery and the programme was produced by Pat Baker.
The programme 'Heritage' was a seven part survey of Irish archaeology from early times to the Cistercian Reform and the Norman Invasion. It was written by Dr Joseph Raftery, President of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA).