Is this the reason Ireland converted to christianity?

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Halley’s Comet has stunned humans throughout history. Its first known observation took place in 239 BC. According to the European Space Agency, Chinese astronomers recorded its passage in the Shih Chi and Wen Hsien Thung Khao chronicles.

Another study pushes that date back, suggesting that the first observation actually happened in 466 BC.

This would have made it visible to the Ancient Greeks.

Halley’s returned in 164 BC and 87 BC, and has done the rounds every 75 years since.

The most famous comet, Halley’s influence has been attributed to a multitude of landmark events in history.

Credited with inspiring Genghis Khan to dispatch his Mongols on an invasion of Europe, its return in 1456 famously overlapped with the Ottoman Empire’s invasion of the Balkans, among other things.

Its appearance, scientists say, could also be to blame for ancient Ireland’s conversion from Druidism to Christianity.

This was explored during the Smithsonian Channel’s documentary, ‘Sacred Sites: Ireland’.

The traditional story goes that in the 5th century AD, a man named Patrick travelled to Ireland from Roman Britain and managed to convert a Pagan population to the religion of Christ.

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But researchers have since questioned the legitimacy of this.

Dr Patrick McCafferty, a Celtic Scholar, said: “The reality wasn’t like that, Saint Patrick did not travel all over Ireland, he was confined mainly to the northern part of Ireland.

“Also, we know that other people were teaching at the same time, and we also know that even by a century after his death, paganism still survived in Ireland.”

Scientists have since looked further into why Ireland may have eventually transitioned from its native religion, and have made a link between the event and Halley’s Comet having an “extraordinary” effect on the climate around the same time.

In around 540 AD, a massive dust cloud appeared in the atmosphere.

Researchers have delved into ancient ice stores from the times, lining the dates of the dust cloud alongside other historical events that were happening at the time.

Analysing the particles and air bubbles trapped in the ice, they have found that the two events appear to be interlinked.

Dr Dallas Abbott, a geophysicist, has studied samples from the ice sheet that covers Greenland for years.

She explained: “The Greenland ice core samples tell us there was extraterrestrial dust coming into the Earth’s atmosphere from 533 until 539, 540 AD.”

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“Back then, they described the stars as dancing, and that’s basically due to their being a lot of dust.”

She believes that this trial of celestial dust came from Halley’s, which appeared in the skies in 530 AD.

And, she has discovered something even more astounding: that Halley’s at that time left a hefty trail of debris in its wake.

She explained: “Some places in the cometary dust trail were bigger than the comet.

“One of those hit the Earth near the equator and that produced most of the profound darkness between 536 and 537 AD.”

The scientific evidence is backed up by accounts from history.

One medieval historian described “a comet so vast that the entire sky seemed to be on fire”, while the Romans also observed a bizarre change in the landscape, a pale Sun that had lost its heat and vigour.

And, ancient Irish annals report food and shortages — the result was catastrophic.

Irish guy: “We have a famine, we had the plague, and we also have references to the stars falling and comets in the sky from the 530s into 540s.

“Now, together, I suspect that these were enough to convince people that the religion they used to believe in wasn’t working anymore and that they needed to leave for something new.

“And in a sense, Christianity would have brought this message that these are symbols of the world ending, and now was the time to switch religion.

“To change from Druidism to Christianity.”

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