Saturday, 22 June 2013

Saint Cronan of Ferns, June 22


June 22 sees the commemoration of a saint of Ferns, Cronan or Mochua. As Canon O'Hanlon explains, his feastday and locality are well-attested in the Irish calendars and his repose in the seventh century is recorded in various of the Irish annals:

ST. MOCHUA LUACHRA OR CRONAN, ABBOT OF FEARNA, OR FERNS, COUNTY OF WEXFORD.

[SEVENTH CENTURY.]

THE present holy personage must have flourished at an early period. In the "Feilire" of St. Aengus, the festival of "mighty Cronan of Ferns" occurs, at the 22nd of June. In the "Leabhar Breac" copy is the following rann, translated into English, by Whitley Stokes, LL.D. :—

"With James, son of Alpheus,
twice eight hundreds,
a fair train,
the feast of a man who loved not bodily ease,
mighty Cronan of Ferns."

The commentator on the "Leabhar Braec" copy calls him the Comorba, or successor to Moedoc of Ferns. At this date, also, a festival is entered in the Martyrology of Tallagh, in honour of Mochua Luachra idem, ocus Cronan a Ferna. In this passage, St. Mochua and Cronan seem to be distinct persons. However, as already established in a former part of this work, the terms Cronan and Mochua are synonymous, and represent only a single saint. He seems to have been known, likewise, as St. Dachu and Ducua Luachra. There is a Luachair-mor tiara da Inbher, denoting a large rushy land between two streams or estuaries, situated in the barony of Upper Duleek, and county of Meath. There was also a Luachair-Deadhach —now known as Slieve Loughra—near Castleisland, county of Kerry. It seems altogether very probable, that St. Cronan or Mochua had been connected with this district and territory. The present holy man appears to have succeeded St. Moedoc, Bishop of Ferns; and, he is said to have presided over the monastery which was there, in the beginning of the seventh century. The Annals of the Four Masters assign the death of St. Dachu Luachra—as he is called —Abbot of Fearna or Ferns, to A.D. 652, while those of Ulster have A.D. 653. In the Martyrology of Donegal, and at the 22nd of June, is written, Cronan, that is, Mochua of Luachair, Abbot of Fearna. How long the present holy man occupied that position has not been ascertained; but, his name first occurs in the list of Abbots there, after the resignation of St. Moling, whose death has been assigned usually to A.D. 696 or 697. Ferns is the well known See of a Bishop, and situated in the county of Wexford. In this county, also, there is a Tober mac lura, in the barony of Ballaghkeen and parish of Maelnagh. Here, there had been a holy well and a patron. The latter was held on the 22nd of June. Whether or not the present saint attained the episcopal dignity may be questioned; but, the early superiors in Ferns seem to have been styled indiscriminately Archbishops of Leinster, as also Bishops and Abbots of Ferns.

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