Friday, 1 August 2014

Saint Nathi of Cuil Saccaile, August 1

We open the month of August with the commemoration of Saint Nathi of Cuil Saccaile. As we will see in Canon O'Hanlon's account from Volume 8 of his Lives of the Irish Saints, it was suggested that this saint's locality was to be found in County Down, even though other evidence pointed to a Leinster origin for the saint. The Anglican writer, Bishop William Reeves, whilst he included the saint in his work on the Ulster dioceses of Down, Connor and Dromore, was unable to identify the place of Cuil Saccaile. Professor Pádraig Ó Riain, however, in his recent authoritative Dictionary of the Irish Saints identifies this place with Taney (Teach Nathí), formerly Sacoyle, County Dublin. He further suggests that our saint could be identical with Saint Nathi of Achonry whose feast is celebrated on August 9 and that he may also be the same Bishop Nathí who was said to have conferred religious orders on the monastics of Saint Brigid of Kildare. Thus although I have reproduced Canon O'Hanlon's  account of Saint Nathi below (including his identification of Cuil Saccaile with County Down), I think this is a case where modern scholarship has been able to offer a fresh perspective:

St. Nathi, of Cuil Saccaile, in Dalaradia, County of Down.

We find entered, at the 1st of August, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, that veneration was given to Nathi, Chule Sacaille. This place must probably be identified with Cuil Fuitheirbe, in the Dalaradian territory. However, the exact locality is not known. The History of the Saints states in the poem, that there is a Nathi, Bishop, and that he was the son of  Senach, sprung from the race of Mesincorb, of Leinster. With this coincides the statement of Roderick O'Flaherty,  and of another record to be found in the Book of Lecan, where this saint is called Nathias of Cuil-fothribh, in Dalaradia. Although placed by Rev. William Reeves in his local Calendar, the learned antiquary and topographer does not attempt to identify that spot, where he was venerated.  Under the head of Cuil Sacaille—also rendered Cill or Cluian—Duald Mac Firbis enters Nathi, bishop of Cuil Fothairbe, or Fuithirbe, or of Cuil Sacaille, at August 1st. This Nathi's name appears also in the Martyrology of Donegal  at the same date, as Nathi, Bishop of Cuil Fuitheirbe.

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