Perhaps the strangest contagion event ever recorded in Ireland was that of the yellow plague in the eighth century. Beset by famine, the country’s chieftains asked God to send a pestilence that would rid them of the “inferior multitude”, so that they would be left with enough to eat.
God, however, was not so pliant. An angel appeared, telling the chieftains that, in punishment for their prayer for the death of...
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