Friday, 22 August 2014

Saint Beoghna of Bangor, August 22


On August 22  we commemorate an Abbot of Bangor, Beoghna, whose repose is recorded in the Irish annals in the early seventh century. The Annals allow us to reconstruct the list of succession of the abbots of Bangor, and they place Beoghna as the immediate successor to this County Down monastery's founder, the great Saint Comgall. This is further borne out by a hymn entitled "Commemoration of our Abbots" in the Bangor Antiphonary which lauds the first fifteen of Bangor's abbots, and here the name of Beogna immediately follows that of Saint Comgall:

The holy, valiant deeds
Of sacred Fathers,
Based on the matchless
Church of Benchor;
The noble deeds of abbots
Their number, times, and names,
Of never-ending lustre,
Hear, brothers; great their deserts,
Whom the Lord hath gathered
To the mansions of his heavenly kingdom.
Christ loved Comgill,
Well too did he, the Lord;
He held Beogna dear;

The evidence from the Annals, however, suggests that our saint did not enjoy a long rule as Saint Comgall's successor, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:

St. Beoghna, Abbot of Bangor, County of Down.
[Sixth and Seventh Centuries.]

Doubtless where he had so long, as student, priest, and high official, discharged his duties with honour to himself and with benefit to all who came within the sphere of his influence, the memory of this holy abbot must have been held in benediction. In a misplaced manner, the published Martyrology of Tallagh enters this saint, as Beogaes, Abb. Bennchoir. Another entry is evidently allowed to intervene, between the first and the last of these denominations. In that copy contained in the Book of Leinster, his name and that of his father are given. The name of the latter, according to that record was Daigre. His record and feast are set down by Marianus O'Gorman, at the 22nd of August. The present holy man was born, probably in the early half of the sixth century. It seems quite likely, that his religious profession must have been made under St. Comgall, the first founder of Bangor, and who was called away from this life, on the 10th of May, A.D. 601. Soon after his decease, it would appear, that St. Beoghna was elected to succeed him. However, he did not long survive his illustrious predecessor. The age of Christ, when the holy man resigned his spirit to heaven, was 605, according to the Annals of the Four Masters. At this date of August 22nd, in the Martyrology of Donegal, we likewise find a festival recorded, in honour of Beoghna, Abbot of Bennchor, after Comhgall. In that carefully compiled Calendar, referring to the Diocese of Down, Connor, and Dromore, his feast has been registered for this day.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Saint Celba of Kilbeg, August 21

Last year on August 21 we looked at the commemoration of Saint Senach, a bishop associated with the famous monastery of Clonard in County Meath. We are staying in the royal county to look at another saint also commemorated today on the Irish calendars, Celba or Caelbadh. Canon O'Hanlon summarizes the little that is known of him:

St. Celba, or Caelbadh, of Cill-Caelbadh, probably Kilbeg or Kilmainhambeg, County of Meath.

The published Martyrology of Tallagh, registers Celba, at the 21st of August. In that copy, contained in the Book of Leinster, this name is united with that of another saint, at the present date. From the following account of his locality, lying on the north side of Ceananus, now Kells, in the County of Meath, it may be possible to identify his church. The Martyrology of Donegal mentions Caelbadh, of Cill Caelbaidh, on the north side of Ceananus, as having been venerated, at this same date. Kilbeg or Kilmainham-beg,a parish in the barony of Lower Kells, and in the County of Meath, seems to be the most probable identification for the site of this saint's former church. It appears also to have given name to that place.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Saint Enan of Drumrath, August 19

August 19 is the commemoration of Saint Enan of Drumrath.  Canon O'Hanlon's account below presents this County Westmeath holy man as a friend to Saint Áed Mac Bricc of Killaire, an associate of Saint Brigid who exercised his famed prowess at curing headaches on her. The friendship between Saints Áed and Enan is understandable since both were neighbours.  It seems that Saint Enan also had a second feast day on September 18:

St. Enan, Patron of Drumrath, County of Westmeath.
[Sixth Century.]

The present holy servant of God flourished so early as the sixth century. In the “Feilire" of St. Oengus, the festival for Enan of Droma Raithne is to be found entered, at the 19th of August. In a comment, we find an explanation, that Droma Raithne is the same as Druim Fota Talman, in the West of Meath, while he is said to have been Enan, son of Ernin, son of Cael, son of Aed, son of Artchorp, son of Niacorp. The published Martyrology of Tallagh registers a festival in honour of Enan, of Druimraithe, in Westmeath. A similar entry is to be found in the copy of that Martyrology contained in the Book of Leinster, at the xiv. of the September kalends. At the 19th of August, the Martyrology of Donegal also enters the festival for St. Enan of Druimrath. Postfixed to this Martyrology, there is a similar entry, in which the Martyrologium Genealogicum is quoted as authority, by the compiler of an alphabetical table. But, in a note, added by Dr. Todd to such statement, he says, in the copy of that treatise, as found in the Book of Lecan, there is nothing concerning Enan of Druimraithe, in Westmeath. Our saint is called Henan, in the Life of St. Aidus, of Killare, and there are different readings, for the name of this hermit, in the Codex Insulensis, and in the Salamancan Manuscript. The Bollandists allude merely to the present St. Henan or Enan, at the 19th of August; promising if further information were to be procured, that allusion should more fully be made to him, at the 18th of September, when, according to some Irish Calendars, he had another festival. It is stated, that he belonged to the race of Eochaidh Finnfua-thairt, from whom Brigid descends. If so, he was son of Ernin, son to Calius, son of Aid, son to Sanius, son of Arturus Corb. We are informed from other sources, how this saint lived the life of a hermit, and at a place, called Drumrath. Here he was visited by St. Aidus, or Aedh, surnamed MacBricc, a remarkable and holy prelate of the ancient Irish Church. He resided at Killare, or Killair, now a village, not far from the celebrated Hill of Uisneach, and supposed by Camden to have been the ancient Laberus, noted by Ptolemy.

The place in which St. Enan or Henan dwelt is now known as Drumrath, or Drumraney. The Irish denomination of this locality means in English, the Ridge-Rath. It belonged to the Meath diocese, and it is situated in that part of Westmeath, formerly called Cuircne. According to Archdall's statement, the place of this saint is identical with Drumraney, which lies about six miles north-eastwards from Athlone, in the Barony of Kilkenny West, County of Westmeath. Others locate it, in the adjoining barony, called Brawney. From Killare to Drumrath or Drumrany, the distance is not very considerable; and, from all we can learn, it is extremely probable, that a holy friendship and an intercourse had been kept up by St. Aid with his neighbour, St. Enan. Moreover, it seems not unlikely, that our saint had a small community under his charge, at the latter place. We are told, there is a holy well in this parish, near the churchyard, which is extensive. This well had been dedicated to St. Enan. When St. Aidus, Bishop of Killare, paid a visit to our saint, at Druimrath, he had nothing for the prelate's refreshment but herbs and water. Seeing this condition of affairs, Aidus smiled, and said to the servant of Enan, “Go, brother, and bring us more palatable food." Returning to a place indicated, the servant found it filled with all varieties of meat. On seeing and hearing these events, those who were present, at that time, cried out,"Wonderful is the Lord in His Saints." Our national Hagiologist [i.e. Colgan] informs us, that the entertainer of St. Aidus was no other than the present St. Enan, also called Henan. It seems probable, that St. Aedh, surnamed Mac Bric, lived at Rahugh or Rathugh, a parish in the barony of Moycashel, and County of Westmeath, at that time; or he may have lived at Killare, in the barony of Rathconrath, in the same county. A famous monastery existed at Drumrath, when the ancient biographer of St. Aidus wrote, and it was built in honour of our saint; but, Archdall had no authority for assigning its erection, to the year 588. A monastery is said to have been founded here in honour of St. Enan, and sometime in the sixth century.

In the Irish Annals, there is an account regarding the death of an Abbot of Druim-ratha; and, he flourished in the eighth century. But, as there was another Druim-ratha, in the district of Legny, in the province of Connaught, it cannot be asserted positively, that the individual noticed belonged to Drumrath, in Westmeath. We are told, that the festival of St. Enan used to be celebrated at Drumrany, on the Sunday after the 18th of September. Nevertheless, according to St. Oengus and Marianus O'Gorman, our saint's festival was celebrated at Drumrath, on the 19th of August; although the same St. Oengus and the Tallagh Martyrology state, that his natal day was kept, on the 18th of September. There is no mention of our saint, however, at this latter day, in the copy of the Irish Calendar, formerly belonging to the Ordnance Survey Office, Phoenix Park, and now deposited in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy. However, the patron saint of Drumrany is said to have been St. Winoc, whose memory was celebrated there, on the 18th September. His day fell on that date, and his pattern was held on the Sunday following. His well is called Tober-Enain, and it lay in the townland of Drumrany, near the old church. It was "smothered up," according to the phraseology of the country people, about the year 1817. The Oratory of Drumraithe was burned by the Ostmen, about the middle of the tenth century; while seven score and ten persons perished in it.This happened in the year 943; when, as the Annals of Clonmacnoise state, the Danes brought a great prey from Dromrahie. The churchyard solely remains, and now undistinguished by monastic ruins; however, the memory of St. Enan, even after such a lapse of time, is still reverenced by the faithful inhabitants of that vicinity.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Saint Ernan of Tory Island, August 17

August 17 is the feast of Saint Ernan, patron of Tory Island, County Donegal. As is so often the case, we have very little information on the actual life of the saint, so in his account below Canon O'Hanlon describes Saint Ernan's island home and the peculiarities of its local customs. He mentions the researches of a contemporary antiquarian, Edmund Getty, for a direct link to his paper on Tory in the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, click hereSaint Ernan shares his name with at least two dozen others and so it is possible that he may also appear in some other sources, although not specifically identified.  One source which does name Saint Ernan is the sixteenth-century vernacular Life of Saint Colum Cille by Manus O'Donnell. Section 111 describes a visit to Tory Island by the great Donegal saint and concludes with the appointment of Ernan as his successor:
Then Colum cille blessed the island and built a noble church there, and left a good church there, and left a good cleric of his household to succeed him in that place, to wit, Ernan of Tory.
A. O'Kelleher and G. Schoepperle, eds. and trans., Betha Coluimb Chille (Illinois, 1918), p. 105.




St. Ernan, of Torach, now Tory Island, County of Donegal.

A festival to honour Ernan is inserted in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 17th of August. He is called the son of Colman, in the Sanctilogium Genealogicum. According to the O'Clerys, he sprung from the race of Eoghan, son to Niall. From Eoghan he was the fifth in regular descent. He was born, most probably, in the beginning of the sixth century, and in the northern part of Ireland. He became a disciple of St. Columkille. Isolated, as Tory lies out in the ocean, it seems to have a history, and dating from a remote period. In the beginning of the sixth century, it was occupied by the pagans, and it belonged to a chief, named Alild. This Island is in the parish of Tullaghobegly, and barony of Kilmacrenan, being about nine miles from the nearest part of the Donegal coast. On the way, a vessel passes three smaller islands, named Innisbofinn, Innisdooey—on which there is a cemetery—and Innisbeg. There are two villages on the Island ofTory; one called the East Town, and the other the West Town. This latter is the principal one, containing the Round Tower and the Ecclesiastical ruins. Steep rocks line the shores of this remote Island, which at certain times is inaccessible from the mainland; and a yacht or boat can only touch in a small cove, romantically situated and sheltered by cliffs, at a place called Port-Doon, from its proximity to an ancient Dun or stronghold. The Island of Tory is of very irregular shape; it is about three miles in length by one mile in breadth, in its widest part; its superficial contents being about 1,200 acres, of which 200 may be considered arable or pasture land. The soil is generally held by the inhabitants on the old "rundale" tenure; each tenant having a portion of every kind of land, but no one a permanent possession of any separate part. This almost inaccessible spot is one of the earliest places mentioned in the bardic history of Ireland, and it is the first referred to as being a stronghold of the Fomorian or African pirates, who made descents on the coasts of Ireland at a period so remote, that now it seems impossible to bring chronology to bear on it. In the accounts of those pirates, it is called Torinis, or "Island of the Tower;" in other tracts, it is Torach, or the "Towery;" while the inhabitants of the adjoining coasts of Donegal think it has derived this name from the tower-like cliffs, by which it is guarded on every side. This seems to be the correct explanation of the latter name ; for there are many lofty, isolated rocks on the opposite coast, and called by the natives tors or "towers." A remarkably lofty one on the east side of this Island itself is called Tormor, or " the Great Tower." The Nemedians are also mentioned in connection with this Island, by the ancient bards and chroniclers. As we have already seen, St. Columba founded a church on Tory or Torry Island ; off the north-western coast of Donegal, about the middle of the sixth century. According to some accounts, he also founded a religious house beside it. Whether St. Ernan accompanied his master to this Island, in the first instance, does not appear ; but, he was selected to plant Christianity there, and afterwards he was recognised as the local patron. He was the first Abbot over the monastic establishment, on the Island of Tory or Torry.

Beside the village of thatched cottages are the Round Tower and a ruined church. Of these, with other antiquities, the fullest description, and with admirable illustrations, have been given by Edmund Getty, M.R.I.A. Only the fragments of two very small churches were found there by Mr. Hills. After a careful examination of the Irish churches, this writer did not find except, perhaps, in one instance, the remains of seven churches only, in any one of eight particular places which had been visited by him. He therefore concludes, that the name "Seven Churches," had no foundation in fact, and that its acceptance was only a fallacious popular opinion. The name of this saint is already recorded, in the Martyrology of Donegal, at the date, August 17th, as Ernan, of Torach. The historic memoranda of this very interesting Island is well set forth in the "Ulster Journal of Archaeology, by a gentleman of acknowledged antiquarian research.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Saint Echlech, Cuimmein and Coemhan, August 14

August 14 is the feast of a trio of brothers, the three sons of Daighre - Echlech, Cuimmein and Coemhan. Canon O'Hanlon suggests that they should be located within the County Kerry parish of Kilcummin and in his account provides a glimpse into the traditional pious practices of the Irish countryside. His source here is the Ordnance Survey scholar, John O'Donovan, who was writing in 1841. The letters of O'Donovan and his colleagues are an important source of information on the Irish saints as they record the existence of sites, devotional practices and traditions regarding the saints in the various places they visited. Often the dates they noted for pattern days can give a clue to the commemoration of the feast days of the saints in the local areas. In this case, however, the people seemed to have gathered at the holy well not on August 14 but on the eve of May 1, which probably reflects the agricultural rather than the ecclesiastical calendar:

Saints Echlech, Cuimmein and Coemhan, three Sons of Daighre.

In the Martyrology of Tallagh, Cummine, Caeman and Aicclig, are the names set down in separate lines and in the preceding order, but without any further designation of their parentage. In that copy, contained in the Book of Leinster, they are placed in like order. In the Martyrology of Marianus O'Gorman, these saints are commemorated at this date... There is a parish dedicated to a saint having the name of Cummein, and which is called Kilcummin. It is situated in the barony of Magunihy, County of Kerry. The old church belonging to this parish is situated on a ridge of fertile land, within the glebe of Kilcummin. In 1841, it measured on the inside 56 feet in length, and 19 feet 6 inches in breadth. Its side walls were 3 feet 5 inches in thickness, and 10 feet in height; being built of green unequally sized stones, cemented with lime and sand mortar. The west gable was destroyed nearly down to the ground; only 3 feet of its height then remaining, but the other walls were nearly perfect. The internal portion of the east window was disfigured, but its external part was in a state of excellent preservation. The window, measuring 5 feet 2 inches in height, and 11 inches in width, was pointed and formed of cut lime stone; the sill was 4 feet 8 inches, from the outside ground level. At the distance of 8 feet from an east gable, there was a window in the south wall. This had been destroyed on both sides, with the exception of one stone left on either external side, These were chiselled lime-stones, and the distance between them was only 7 inches. A rude representation of the head and face of St. Cummin—as is believed—was carved on brown sand stone, which projected from the wall, near the northern extremity of the east gable and on the outside. There was also a large graveyard attached to this church. In the townland of Gortnagowan, in the east division of this parish, there stood a caher or circular stone fort, called Caher-Crovderg, i.e., the Fort of the Red-handed. On the eastern side of it, a holy well lay, at which stations were performed by the peasantry, on May eve. They also drove their cattle into the fort, and made them drink the water of this holy well, which was believed to possess the efficacy of preserving their animals from all contagious distempers, during the ensuing year. Colgan thinks St. Coeman, a deacon, and a disciple of St. Patrick, to be identical with one of these saints. He was set over the church of Ard-lice, commonly called Sean Domhnach. In the O'Clerys' Calendar of Donegal, we find the three sons of Daighre, Echlech, Cuimmein and Caemhan, had veneration given them at the 14th of August.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Saint Molacca, Son of Cairthenn, August 13

The Irish calendars record the commemoration of Molacca, the son of Cairthenn on August 13. Nothing else appears to be known of him, although Canon O'Hanlon does his best by supplying the suggestions of the scholiast from the Martyrology of Donegal and of the great 17th-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan:

St. Molacca, Son of Cairthenn.

Veneration was given, at the 13th of August to Moloca mac Cairthen, as we find entered in the published Martyrology of Tallagh. In the Martyrology of Donegal, this saint is set down as Molacca, son of Cairthenn. There is a Molaga, of Saingel, adds the Calendarist, and who tells us that he belonged to the race of Conall Eachluath, who was of the posterity of Corbmac Cas, son to Oilioli Olum. There are different holy men bearing the name of Molacus or Molagius, tantamount to Molacca. Colgan supposes the present may possibly be identified with a Molocus, surnamed the Devout, of Inis-tiprad, near Limerick, and who assisted at the obsequies of St. Senan, Abbot of Iniscathy, about the middle of the sixth century. He is recorded by Marianus O'Gorman, at the same date.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Saint Lelia of Killeely, August 11

August 11 sees the commemoration of a number of female saints, the most well-known of whom is probably Saint Attracta. We now turn to one of the other women saints remembered on this day, Saint Lelia, whose cult still persists even though not much is actually known of her individually, nor of the locality in which she flourished. Canon O'Hanlon assembles the evidence below:

St. Lelia, Virgin, Dioceses of Limerick and Kerry.

It is greatly to be lamented, that any clue to a recovery of the once well-known memorials of many an Irish saint cannot be better traced, at present. Thus, the pious Lelia, a Virgin, has been specially commemorated, in the Dioceses of Limerick, and of Kerry, from a former period. Her Acts are not discoverable, at the present time. Latterly, a Double Office, but of the Common Lessons, has been obtained, by authority of the Roman Pontiff, for her feast, at this date. An Office and a Mass have been extended, likewise, to the other Irish Dioceses. According to a local tradition, in Limerick, she was a sister to St. Munchin, Patron of the Diocese; and, it is said, her place is now known as Killeely. This parish is situated, partly within the North Liberties of Limerick City; but, chiefly does it lie, in the barony of Bunratty, and County of Clare. Near Killarney, this virgin is reputed to be the titular of an old church, which is now called Killilee. This latter local denomination is not found noted down, on the Irish Ordnance Survey Maps. Besides the foregoing places, there is a Killilagh parish, in the barony of Corcumroe, County of Clare. It seems likely enough, judging from the original compounds and the existing euphony of parts, that these places were formerly under this holy woman's patronage, especially as her memory is partially preserved so vividly in peasant traditional lore, throughout the south-western parts of Ireland. Perhaps, indeed, we may be justified in associating them with scenes in the life-actions of the devout Lelia. However, her era and her locality have not been distinctly revealed to us; but, there is good reason for supposing, that she lived at a remote period, and most probably, she led a life of strict observance, if she did not preside over some religious institution, in the province of Munster. It may be possible, her name was connected with other places in Ireland. There is a parish, denominated Killely, or Killila, in the Barony of Ballaghkeen, County of Wexford. There is another Killily, or Killeely, partly in the Barony of Loughrea, partly in that of Kiltartan, but chiefly in that of Dunkellin, County of Galway. This latter place, especially, may have derived its name from St. Lelia. Perhaps, some legends of the people might give us a little more light, regarding her; but, it is to be feared, we are not likely to ascertain anything, which could satisfactorily restore her holy manner of living to our records. In Pustet's new edition of the "Vesperale Romanum," in the Supplement, will be found St. Lelia's commemoration. It seems strange, that her name or festival does not appear, in our Irish Calendars or Martyrologies.