Well pretty much everywhere had *something* before Christianity
Well of course they did, even England :)) although let's face it, where would you have been without our kindly intervention which makes subsequent events all the more bitter - 'how much sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child' or to quote Billy Bunter 'talk about the thankless tooth of a serpent's child'.
I think people were using runes before Latin. Certainly the Anglo-Saxons were.
Indeed they were, just as the Irish used ogham but those alphabets were used, as far as we know only for inscriptions in pre-Christian times. Literature comes later. The Anglo-Saxons produced some literature using runes but quite late, I think around the 8th or 9th century.
The Latin alphabet was introduced to Britain by Christian missionaries in the 9th and 10th centuries after which England began producing literature in English using the Latin alphabet. Literature written in the English language really begins with Beofwulf in the 10th century. The earliest example of literature written in the Irish language dates from the eighth century so not that much of a difference. Of course there were a few snippets here and there in both cultures in the years preceding that and possibly a lot more that has been lost.
However as far as religious manuscripts go, Ireland's earliest surviving manuscript in Latin, The Codex Usserianus Primus dates back to the sixth century whereas the oldest in England is another Codex thing-a-mu-jiggy, cant' remember the Latin bit, it's a complete Bible and it dates from the beginning of the eigth century.
Obviously the cultures of the two countries developed in very close alignment with each other for a long time until we made complete eejits of ourselves by inviting you over to help out in yet another internal conflict and then spent the next 800 years trying to get rid of you. However that's all in the past, we're best of friends again and no need whatsoever to mention the war :))
The oldest Latin manuscript in Poland is about 800 years old. The earliest pieces of writing in Old Polish, a single line in an otherwise Latin chronicle, dates to around the 13th century which is what I mean about Poland being a 'young' country. That's only 700 years ago.
What's sad for Poland is that the early Christian monks didn't write down the mythology and legends of the land at a time when they were still vivid in the oral tradition. Ireland was lucky that the Irish monks recorded the great mythological cycles which went on to become part of every child's education. This is what I mean about the continuity of the culture that is a peculiarity of Ireland, the sense of connection to our ancient past. We know the stories that our ancestors listened to thousands of years ago, even the game of hurling is part of the legend of Cú Chulainn. The game has survived for several thousand years - how many places in modern Europe do you find that?
I think that Poland suffered because the early monks were not Poles or even Slavs and didn't care about preserving the ancient myths, legends and folklore of the Polans and other tribes that formed the nation of Poland. The Irish monks were Irish and wanted to record their heritage which is why they wrote all the stories of the Pagan Gods of the ancient Irish. So when Ironside says that 'Irish' culture began with Christianity he's completely wrong - as usual. It's clear that a sense of Irish identity already existed in the fifth century whereas Polish identity begins with the orchestrated and symbolic unification of many tribes under a Christian king.