Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Saint Suairleach of Linn Duachaille, April 23

April 23 is the commemoration of an eighth-century abbot of the monastery of Linn Duachaille, Saint Suairleach. The locality of this monastery has been the subject of some dispute; in the mid-nineteenth century the Anglican Bishop William Reeves was confident that Linn Duachaille was to be identified with Magheralin in County Down but at the beginning of the twentieth century this thesis was challenged by another Anglican cleric in favour of Annagassan, County Louth. In his entry for today's saint, Canon O'Hanlon, writing in the 1870s, follows the thinking of Bishop Reeves and describes the saint as being from Magheralin, County Down. I will bring you that account first and then the evidence in favour of Annagassan. Whatever the truth of the location of this monastery, it was a sufficiently well-known foundation that the repose of some of its abbots were recorded in the Irish Annals. Saint Suairleach is among these. Sadly, Linn Duachaille monastery features even more heavily in the Annals thanks to the frequency of the Viking attacks upon it beginning in the ninth century.

St. Suairleach, Abbot of Magheralin, County of Down.

According to one account, this holy man is said to have belonged to the northern province, and to the parish of Magheralin. This lies, partly in the barony of Oneilland East, county of Armagh, but chiefly in that of Lower Iveagh, county of Down. However, the entry in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 23rd of April, for the saint of this day, is Soardlech ind Edhnen. There he seems to be associated in locality, with the holy man, of whom a notice succeeds. One townland in the parish of Magheralin is yet called Linn Huachuille, where the old monastery stood. It was so called, from St. Colman, or Mocholmoc, the founder, who died in 699. On this day, the Martyrology of Donegal, registers a festival in honour of Suairleach, Abbot of Linn Duachaille. According to some accounts, this holy abbot died, A.D. 770; while A.D. 774 is set down for that event, in the Annals of Ulster. Subsequently to this date, that place was frequently ravaged by the Danish invaders, as recorded in our chronicles.

Rev John O'Hanlon, Lives of the Irish Saints , Volume IV, (Dublin, 1875), 465.

Monastery of Linn Duachaill.—It is in the townland of Linns, close to the village of Annagassan, that we find the first trace of an ecclesiastical establishment in the Parish of Gernonstown. St. Colman MacLuachan is said to have founded a church or monastery here in the seventh century. It was known by the name of Linn Duachaill (i.e.. Duachaill's pool), or Linn Uachaill from a demon named Duachaill, who is said to have infested the place and terrified the neighbourhood until destroyed by St. Colman. Duachaill's pool is still pointed out at the junction of the Clyde and Dee before they enter the sea at Annagassan. Dr. O' Donovan once thought that Linn Duachaill was Magheralin. Co. Down, and at first Bishop Reeves seems to have had the same opinion. But both those antiquaries found it necessary to correct their opinion on becoming acquainted with the topography and traditions of Annagassan. For Linn Duachaill was on the banks of the river called Casan Linne (Martyr. Doneg., Mar. 30, p. 91, cp Colgan Acta SS., pp. 792-703), and this river is mentioned in the "Circuit of Ireland " as lying between the Vale of Newry, or Glen Righe, and Ath Gabhla on the Boyne. The name " Casan''="paths" survives in Annagassan. According to Joyce (Names of Places, p. 373) "Casan " was originally joined with "Linne Duachaill" and became shortened to " Casan linne," which is preserved in Annagassan=Ath-na-gcasan, "the ford of the paths." Dr. Todd, who has an important note on the subject in " Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gall," p. lxii., says, Annagassan=Aonach g Casain, i.e., the " Fair of Casan." Joyce's interpretation is, I think, to be preferred, as the people still speak of the "Pass of Linns " and this pass, as pointed out, lay further up the River Glyde, about a quarter of a mile from Duachaill's pool, and near the spot where the monastery founded by St. Colman is believed to have stood.

The Four Masters and Annals of Ulster do not tell very much about the Monastery of Linn Duachaill. The following entries in the former refer to it : —

699. — Colman of Linn Duachaill died on 30 March.

752. — Siadhail, Abbot of Linn Duachaill, died.

758.— Anfadan, Abbot of Linn Duachaill, died.

770. — Suairlech, Abbot of Linn Duachaill, died.

803. — Thomas, Bishop, Scribe, and Abbot of Linn Duachaill, died.

826. — Clemens, Abbot of Linn Duachaill, died.

Rev. J. B. Leslie, History of Kilsaran Union of Parishes in the County of Louth, (Dundalk, 1908), 89-91.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Saint Berach of Bangor, April 21


April 21 is the commemoration of Saint Berach, one of the abbots of the monastery of Bangor, founded by Saint Comgall.  It seems that the abbacy of our saint Berach lasted for a short time, as Canon O'Hanlon, drawing on the evidence from the Irish Annals, explains:

St. Berach, Abbot of Bangor, County of Down.
[Seventh Century]

...The whole of Ireland was filled with monastic houses of great extent. Among these, the famous Abbey of Bangor sent many of its holy inmates from earth, to people the courts of the Heavenly Jerusalem. The name of Berach, Abbot of Bennchair, occurs, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 21st of April. He was born, most probably, towards the opening of the seventh century. We know not the place of his nativity; but, it seems not improbable, he belonged to the community at Bangor, where St. Mac Laisre, the Abbot, died, A.D. 645. We find another Abbot, St. Segan O'Cuinn, who departed, A.D. 662. The holy man Berach was probably his immediate successor; and, if such be the case, he could not have long survived, to rule over that establishment. He died, in the year 663, according to the Annals of Ulster, and of the Four Masters. According to the Martyrology of Donegal, on this day was venerated, Berach, Abbot of Bennchar.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Saint Maelochtraigh, April 20

Among the saints commemorated at April 20 Saint Maelochtraigh, apparently the only saint of this name to be recorded in the Irish calendars. It is a name though that he shares with an eighth-century County Meath abbot whose repose is recorded in the Irish Annals at the year 737, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:

St. Moelochtraigh, or Maelochtraigh.

Like their Divine Master, the truly great among his followers labour with indefatigable zeal and love, to mitigate the afflictions of the poor, the broken-hearted and the erring. The name of this servant of Christ appears, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 20th of April, as Moelochtraigh. This, too, is the only saint of the name, to be found in our Calendars. It is difficult to identify him. We find, a Maelochtraigh, Abbot of Cill-Foibrigh, who died A.D. 737. But, it is not certain, if he be identical with this saint. His place has been set down as Kilbrew, a townland and parish in the barony of Ratoath, in thecounty of Meath. Here, there was an ancient monastery. The old church of Kilbrew has been uprooted, and a Protestant edifice has been built on its site. The parish is dedicated, as we are told, to St. Brigid. This day was set apart for the veneration of Maelochtraigh, according to the Martyrology of Donegal.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Sons of Erc, April 19

On April 19 we meet another of the groups of Irish saints, the Sons of Erc of Darmagh. Following the work of Meath diocesan historian, Dean Anthony Cogan, Canon O'Hanlon identifies this place with the Columban monastery of Durrow. We have no further specifics about Erc's saintly sons, but interestingly, the calendars appear to preserve a second feast day for them at November 12:

The Sons of Erc, of Darmagh, said to have been Durrow, King's County.

The Martyrology of Tallagh enters as a festival, MacErcca of Dermaigh, at this same date [i.e. April 19]. This place, which is Anglicised 'the plain of the Oaks' is said to have been identical with the present Durrow, a parish, partly in the barony of Moycashel, county of Westmeath, but principally in that of Ballycowan, King's County. This monastery was founded by St. Columkille, about the year 550; and on a site, granted by Bredan, a chief of Teffia. Other accounts have the foundation of Durrow, at A.D. 546. It was subsequently governed by St. Lasren; but, St, Columba retired here, and drew up certain rules and instructions, for the future good government of this celebrated house. We have a long list of annalistic entries, referring to it, and reaching down to the time of its suppression, by Queen Elizabeth.

The saints here commemorated appear to have had a second festival, at November the 12th. Marianus O'Gorman, at this day, has an entry of those holy men; and, at this date also, quoting his authority, and that of the Tallagh Martyrology, the Bollandists enter Filii Ercae de Dermagia. The festival in honour of the sons of Erc, of Dermagh, was celebrated, on this day, as we read in the Martyrology of Donegal.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Saint Moninnsen of Mainistir, April 18

On April 18 we can add yet another name to the list of obscure Irish saints, of whom only the recording of a feastday survives, Moninnsen of Mainistir. Canon O'Hanlon brings the details preserved in the earliest of the Irish calendars, the Martyrology of Tallaght:

St. Moninnsen, of Mainistir

From the appendix to this proper name, we may assume, probably, that he was a monk, and belonging to some particular monastery. At this date, a festival is recorded, in the Martyrology of Tallagh in honour of a St. Moninnsen, of Manister. There are so many localities, in different parts of Ireland, compounded with the word Mainistir, signifying "a monastery' that in the absence of further accounts regarding this saint, it will be difficult to identify him, or his place of retreat. Quoting the Martyrology of Tallagh, as their authority, the Bollandists enter Monindus senex de monasterio; and if this be correct, we should probably infer, that the present holy recluse lived to an old age.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Saint Lughaidh Mac Garbain, April 17

April 17 is the commemoration of a saint with alleged Patrician links, Lughaidh Mac Garbain, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:

St. Lughaidh Mac Garbain, possibly of Teglaisreann, County of Louth.

At this date, a festival is set down, in the Martyrology of Tallagh in honour of Lughaidh Mac Garbain. He is thought, by Colgan, to have been brother to St. Bega, whose feast occurs at the 10th of February. The Bollandists have entered Lugadius filius Garvani, at the 17th of April. They notice, likewise, a particular Lugadius Praesbyter, who is mentioned in the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, and who is thought, by Colgan, to have been one of those saints, so-called, in the Irish Calendars, at this date. In our account of St. Meallan, the name of that Lugadius occurs, as a companion. He was one of those six students, who, it has been stated, met St. Patrick on his going to Rome. To them, St. Patrick gave a hide, which he had under his side, for twelve years. Of it, they made a satchel, for their books. This custom of keeping books in cases or satchels seems to have been prevalent in the early times. Those circumstances, connected with the foregoing incident, are more fully detailed, in the First Volume of this work. [See the entry for Saint Meallan on January 28, pp. 465-467.]

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Saint Failbe of Killower, April 16

April 16 is the commemoration of Bishop Failbe of Killower in County Galway. The 17th-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, sought to identify him with a bishop Fáilbe, for whom Saint Patrick had founded a church. Canon O'Hanlon can only bring these few details:

Saint Failbe or Falbe, Bishop.

The name of Failbe appears, in the Martyrology of Tallagh at the 16th day of April. By Colgan, as St. Falbe is called Bishop of Kill-Fore, or Fobhuir, while his festival is assigned to the 11th of January, or to the 16th of April. He is classed among the disciples of St. Patrick. The name of Failbhe is set down in the Martyrology of Donegal as having been venerated, on this day; but, it is not at all certain, when he flourished, or when he lived.