What an unusual Irish saint Patrick is! He is the only early Irish saint I can think of who was not a monastic, that is based from a monastery. Now there may have been other very early saints, possibly earlier than Patrick who may not have been monastic either but their hagiographers depicted them as such so that is how they are remembered. Ailbe is one of those southern Irish saints who is as early, if not earlier, than Patrick and it’s unlikely that the monastic model had made it to Ireland before Patrick. It was so new that monasticism wasn’t wide-spread anywhere before the mid-5th century. Yet, in the Voyage of Brendan, Ailbe’s monastery is depicted as being as close to perfect as anywhere in Ireland/ the known world. I don’t think Patrick was a fan of monasticism; he doesn’t seem to be a fan of conformity. I suspect that he had been exposed to monasticism while studying in Gaul, but preferred the then more traditional Roman style church organization of his youth in Roman Britain.
Patrick had more in common with Wilfrid of York/Ripon than Columba. In his Confessio, Patrick writes in a self-deprecating, pseudo-rustic style but he is clearly not humble! Like Wilfrid, he is a champion of Romanitas. We don’t know how much support Patrick really had from Rome because the British were not about to ask for arbitration, but Patrick certainly claimed his authority from Rome. Moreover in his Confessio abundantly shows his pride in his Roman citizenship. Like Wilfrid, Patrick didn’t see anything wrong about traveling with a retinue. Patrick travels with an armed retinue that he pays with gifts from the wealthy. Like Wilfrid, women give Patrick important support in his ministry. I wonder if some of Wilfrid’s friendly contacts in Ireland were with Patrick’s people at Armagh?