chapter  7
The first Christian schools
Pages 27

The oldest surviving monuments of the Irish language, the ogam stones, are evidence for a knowledge of the Latin language at a date which some scholars would now set as early as the second century AD.6 Whatever the origins of the ogam alphabet, however, the stones offer no clue as to the types of latin sCript that the Irish came into contact with, since the ogam alphabet is comprised of rune-like strokes, not Latin letters. Patrick is said to have instructed his first converts in letters and given them alphabets (- elements of Christian doctrine) (babtttzabat cottdie homines et iIIis litteras legebat ac abgatorias),7 but none of these early writings has come down to us - if they ever existed. 'We are still in the dark as to the appearance of the first Bibles and books of devotion which taught the Irish their letters and Christianity,.8