32Cronin, Dan. In the Shadow of the Paps. Killarney: Crede, Sliabh Luachra Heritage Group, 2001. 44-48.
The author further explains the early Irish system of Penance: "An arnamchara or soul-friend was utilised to advise the penitent on the extent of the severity of the penance necessary in order to be cleansed before coming into the presence of what they considered holy. The arnamchara was indispensable, because of the fact that he took on the responsibility from the penitent as to what would be enough, not-too much or too little, to placate the god or gods. For, had the penitent decided for himself how much penance he was obliged to do, he figured that he was putting himself in the place of his god in deciding what was suitable. His idea was that a little could in no way be enough, yet, severe (for good measure) would be considered pride or overdoing it. This method was practised in many parts of Ireland, until the Christian clerics converted the rite to Christianity, using it to cleanse the penitent, thus enabling him to receive the Holy Eucharist of Christ. Where the official Church had lesser influence, especially in remote places, the peasant continued the old form of penitential rite - without the anamchara, who, incidentally, had been made redundant by the Christian influence! but remained popular up to the end of the 19th century. They fell out of favour due to ridicule by English Protestants and as people became more educated. Even though the Irish penitential system was severely criticized at first, it eventually got to be accepted as a good thing. The Irish practice of administering bodily punishment came across as a humbling penance, showing a good proof of sorrow for sin confessed. It was also required to compensate victims for wrongs done. The Council of Trent emphasized the sacramental status of Penance, and the use of confessional boxes became customary in places."