Thursday, 30 October 2014

Saint Colman of Cammus Comghaill, October 30

October 30 presents us with the feast of yet another Saint Colman and of something of a mystery as to his precise identity, location and feastday. The Martyrology of Donegal records:

30. B. TERTIO KAL. NOVEMBRIS. 30.

COLMAN, Abbot, of Cammus Comghaill, on the brink of the Bann; or of Lann Mocholmog: and he was maternal brother to Mocholmog of the Lann.

Initially therefore I thought that I was dealing with a saint from one of the northern counties and turned to Bishop Reeves' account of the northern dioceses of Down, Connor and Dromore, where he identified the Lann as the parish of Magheralin, County Down:

Lan.—Now the parish of Magheralin. The church was founded by St. Colman or Mocholmoc, whose death Tigernach records at the year 700: "Colman Linduacaill obit". "Colman of Lin-duacall died". Or, as the Four Masters, a year earlier: "Colman Linne Uachaille decc. an XXX Marta". "Colman of Linn-uachaill died on the 30th of March". Hence it is sometimes called Lann-Da-Cholmoc, or Lann-Mocholmoc, which both signify ' the church of Colman'; for the syllables Da or Do, in the sense 'your', and Mo, in the sense 'my', were prefixed to saints' names, as Colgan observes, "honoris et singularis observantiae causa".

Rev. W. Reeves, Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Down, Connor and Dromore (Dublin, 1847), 110.

This identification was overturned, however, by another Anglican cleric who placed the location of Saint Colman's foundation at Annagassan, County Louth:

Monastery or Linn Duachaill.—It is in the townland of Linns, close to the village of Annagassan, that we find the first trace of an ecclesiastical establishment in the Parish of Gernonstown. St. Colman MacLuachan is said to have founded a church or monastery here in the seventh century. It was known by the name of Linn Duachaill (i.e.. Duachaill's pool), or Linn Uachaill from a demon named Duachaill, who is said to have infested the place and terrified the neighbourhood until destroyed by St. Colman. Duachaill's pool is still pointed out at the junction of the Clyde and Dee before they enter the sea at Annagassan. Dr. O' Donovan once thought that Linn Duachaill was Magheralin. Co. Down, and at first Bishop Reeves seems to have had the same opinion. But both those antiquaries found it necessary to correct their opinion on becoming acquainted with the topography and traditions of Annagassan. For Linn Duachaill was on the banks of the river called Casan Linne (Martyr. Doneg., Mar. 30, p. 91, cp Colgan Acta SS., pp. 792-703), and this river is mentioned in the "Circuit of Ireland " as lying between the Vale of Newry, or Glen Righe, and Ath Gabhla on the Boyne. The name " Casan''="paths" survives in Annagassan. According to Joyce (Names of Places, p. 373) "Casan " was originally joined with "Linne Duachaill" and became shortened to " Casan linne," which is preserved in Annagassan=Ath-na-gcasan, "the ford of the paths." Dr. Todd, who has an important note on the subject in " Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gall," p. lxii., says, Annagassan=Aonach g Casain, i.e., the " Fair of Casan." Joyce's interpretation is, I think, to be preferred, as the people still speak of the "Pass of Linns " and this pass, as pointed out, lay further up the River Glyde, about a quarter of a mile from Duachaill's pool, and near the spot where the monastery founded by St. Colman is believed to have stood.

Colgan has collected all the traces of this Saint Colman Mac Luachan (in his Acta SS., p. 792-3). From Colgan we learn that his mother's name was Lessara, and that he and another Colman were uterine brothers and living at the same time, but his father was of the Hi Gualla or Gaillfine, an Ulster race, while the father of the other Colman was of the royal family of Meath. It appears that he had two or three churches — Camus-juxta-Bann, Lann Mocholmoc, or Linn Duachaill, and perhaps Lann Abhaic and Lann Ronain in Down and Dromore. In his churches he was commemorated on March 30 and October 30, and he is held eminent for his sanctity. The other Colman was commemorated on June 17. There is in the Annals some confusion between these Colmans; but St. Colman of Linn Duachaill, called also Mocholmoc, died on March 30, 699.

Rev. J. B. Leslie, History of Kilsaran Union of Parishes in the County of Louth, (Dundalk, 1908), 89-91.

Thus it seems, and not for the first time, that the problem of distinguishing homonymous saints named Colman has left us with a question mark over the relationship between the saint commemorated on October 30 and the saint commemorated on March 30.

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