Monday, 16 June 2014

Saint Cethach of Cill Garadh, June 16

On June 16 we commemorate Cethach of Cill Garadh, a convert of Saint Patrick who went on to become a bishop. Canon O'Hanlon has the details:

ST. CETHIG, OR CETHACH, BISHOP OF CILL GARADH, OR ORAN, COUNTY OF ROSCOMMON, AND OF DOMHNACH SAIRIGH, IN CIANACHTA, COUNTY OF MEATH.

[FIFTH CENTURY.]

THE fame of a great master naturally overshadows that of his less distinguished disciples. To this cause is mainly owing, perhaps, the few indications we now have of many worthy labourers in our early church. This Cethecus, however, is well known in the Irish Calendars, and he is said to have lived contemporaneously with our celebrated Irish Apostle, St. Patrick, by whom it seems probable he was baptized. He was born most likely, in the early part of the fifth century. Thus, in Tirechan's list of St. Patrick's disciples, we meet with Cethecus or Cethiacus. On the 16th of June, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, we find the simple entry, Cethig, Bishop of St. Patrick. In like manner, Marianus O'Gorman treats of him. According to received accounts, his father was a Meath man, from Domnach-Sarige, near Duleek. He is said to have been of the race called Say, who lived in the territory of Cianachta, in Magh-Breagh, of Meath. This, too, comprised Domhnach Sairighe, which must have been near Duleek, the old name for which was Damhliag-Chianain. His mother was of a Tirellil family. He was born, too, in that part of the country. This is now a barony, in the county of Sligo, and originally it signified the territory or land of Oilell.

Cethach is classed as one of St. Patrick's disciples. The Irish Apostle is said to have selected Cetchen, when he had come into the territory ot Hua-Noella, where, in a place called Domhacha, he erected a church called Sencheall Damhaighe, in which he left Cetchen, as also other disciples. Colgan thought that Ceihemis was the same as Cethecus. This conjecture, however, is clearly inadmissible. They are mentioned distinctly, in the Tripartite Life, and the former is not called a bishop. They are distinguished also in Tirechan's list one by the name of Cetennus, and the other by that of Cethiacus. The latter is called Patrick's bishop, that is, suffragan of St. Patrick. He is said to have been employed as bishop, and in various places far distant from each other. Thus, he officiated at Domnach Sarige, in his father's country, as also at a place called Ath-da-Laarg, in his maternal and natal country. On Easter Sunday, Cethecus was at Domnach-Sarige, and at other times, especially on Dominica in Albis, he officiated in Tirellil. In this statement, there is nothing improbable. Cethecus could not have been a bishop probably before a.d. 440. But, it is very natural to suppose, that St. Patrick wanted the assistance of some bishops, unattached to any fixed Sees, that they might ordain priests and attend to other episcopal duties, when he could not conveniently act in their distant places. It has been stated, that St. Patrick visited Hy-Many, a district, partly in Roscommon, but chiefly in Galway.

While St. Patrick was in Connaught, he founded a church, at a place afterwards called Kill-Garadh, otherwise Huaran-Garadh, now Gran, owing to the circumstance of his having produced from the earth a cold and bubbling spring well. Here it was destined, that one of a band of brothers from France, and who were disciples of St. Patrick, should remain. While hearing about the progress made by their countrymen in Ireland, and considering the unhappy state of disturbance prevailing in many parts of Gaul, in those times, it is not to be wondered at, if some persons from that country might have come over to our island, as to a place of greater peace and security. In the Litany of Aengus, invocations of Gaelic saints, whose remains were in various parts of Ireland, are to be found. It is more probable, however, that the greatest part of these pilgrims did not come over to Ireland, until several years later than this period. Over the church of Cill Garadh, a St. Cethogus or Cethecus is said to have presided, in the fifth century; but, for this statement, we do not seem to have very satisfactory evidence. One of the Irish round towers yet remains at Oran, a parish in the barony of Ballymoe, and county of Roscommon. It is only asserted, that Cethecus was buried in Kill-garadh, or Oran. But, it does not thence follow, that he was bishop of Oran, as Archdall says.

It would appear, there was a place bearing this name, in the territory of Hy-Many, which embraced a great part of the southern and eastern part of the county of Galway. There was also a Cill Garadh in Scotland. Oran was nothing more than a parish church, and should not have been placed among the Irish monasteries. The date for this holy bishop's death is not known. Bishop Cethechus is said to have been buried in the parish church of Kill-garadh, or Oran, and there his relics were afterwards preserved. To it, many pilgrimages continued to be made, down to the close of the last century. The name of this holy man appears, also, in the Martyrology of Donegal at the same date, as Cethach, Patrick's Bishop, of Cill Garadh, in the territory of Ui Maine, and of Domhnach Sairighe in Cianachta, at Daimhliac Cianan. He was, it is said, of the Cianachta. The Life of Patrick is quoted, as authority for the foregoing statements. Under the head of Domhnach Sairighe, Duald Mac Firbis enters Cethach, bishop, at June 16th; and, at the same date, under the head of Daimhlaig, Duald Mac Firbis again enters, Cethech, bishop, from Domnach-Sairighe, at Daimhlaig Cianain. More than the foregoing we cannot discover, in reference to this primitive bishop.

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