Thursday, 18 April 2013

Saint Lassair of Donaghmoyne, April 18


April 18 is the feast day of one of the many Irish female saints about whom we know little, Lassair of Donaghmoyne. In his Lives of the Irish Saints, Canon O'Hanlon recorded 14 female saints with the name of Lassar, most of whom, like the daughter of Eoghan commemorated today, remain shadowy figures. I did notice, however, that our holy woman is commemorated on the same day as the much more famous male saint Laserian/Molaise of Leighlin and checked Professor Ó Riain's new Dictionary of Irish Saints for a second opinion. Sure enough he confirms that 'both saints are likely to have originally represented the same cult'. He also quotes a note appended to the Martyrology of Donegal which effectively overturns Canon O'Hanlon's identification of the holy woman's church with that of Moyne in County Mayo. For the note records that the church of Donaghmoyne had two patrons, Ciar and Lasair, and Ó Riain argues that the church was actually situated in the barony of Farney, County Monaghan. It is particularly interesting to note that just as our obscure female Lassair shares her commemoration with the famous male Laserian, her co-patroness Ciar may also be commemorated on September 9, the feast of Saint Ciarán of Clonmacnoise. Below is Canon O'Hanlon's brief account of Saint Lassair:

St. Lassar, Virgin, daughter of Eoghan, of Maigin, possibly Moyne, in the County of Mayo

This holy female appears, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 18th of April, as Lasar, daughter of Eccain of Maighin. From the same authority, the Bollandists enter Lassara filia Egani de Maigin. This locality, perhaps, was identical with the present Moyne, in the barony of Tirawley, and county of Mayo. A conventual establishment for religious women may have existed there, previous to the foundation of a Franciscan Monastery, early in the fifteenth century....The Martyrology of Donegal, registers the name of Lassar, virgin, and daughter to Eoghan, of Maighin, as having veneration paid her, at this date.

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