Sunday, 28 June 2015

Saint Cruimín of Leacan, June 28

June 28 is the commemoration of a saint with Patrician associations - Cruimín of Leacan. In his account below, Canon O'Hanlon gives a good description of the church site associated with the saint and of the holy well dedicated to him. Popular devotion survived here until the second decade of the nineteenth century, although the noting of the occasion as the day after the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul seems to be a mistake as June 28 is the day before the apostles' feast. Saint Cruimín was supposed to have attained a great age and Canon O'Hanlon quotes a quatrain which alludes to this:

" Three score years thrice over
Was the age of the pious Crummain;
Without infection, without disease, he changed colour,
After Mass, after celebration."

You will also see that there are at least half a dozen different ways of transliterating the name of the saint, I have followed Professor Ó Riain's usage of Cruimín, but in the entry below from the Lives of the Irish Saints he is variously described as Crumine, Cruimmen, Crummain, Crumanius, Cruimminus etc.

ST. CRUMINE OR CRUIMMEN, BISHOP OF LEACAN, OR MOYGISH, COUNTY OF WESTMEATH.

[FIFTH OR SIXTH CENTURY.]

THROUGH the devoted ministry of St. Patrick, it is generally supposed we owe the call of this his disciple to the priceless gift of Divine Faith. However it may be, we should above all things be careful to guard and preserve this precious treasure, which God has so bountifully bestowed on our ancestors, and which as an invaluable heirloom has descended unimpaired to our time. The Martyrology of Tallagh, at this date, simply enters the name Crumine, in Leacan, of Midhe. From all we can glean, he seems to have flourished, at a very early period in our Irish ecclesiastical history. An inference may be drawn, with some degree of probability, that he might have been one of those missionary companions, that originally accompanied St. Patrick to Ireland; if it be true, that on the mother's side, he had been a nephew to the great Irish Apostle. The account of his origin and descent, however, is both confused and unsatisfactory. According to one statement, Crummain, of Lecain, was son to Corbmac, son of Baedan, and sprung from the race of Tadhg, son to Cian, son to Oilioll Olum. According to another statement, Conis—whom it is difficult to identify with the Irish name Corbmac— was this saint's father. On such statements, however, we cannot rely, with any great degree of certainty. According to a Tract, ascribed to St. Aengas, Darerca, sister to St. Patrick, is said to have been his mother, as also the mother of fifteen sons, who were bishops—besides two others —as  also the mother of two holy virgins. Yet, it is thought, there may have been  several interpolations in that Tract. Some critics consider, moreover, it is not the genuine composition of St. Aengus.

Besides the supposed relationship of uncle and nephew, St. Crumanius is numbered among St. Patrick's disciples, while he is classed also among the bishops of the early Irish Church. It is stated, that when St. Patrick came to that part of Meath, commonly called Leaccuin, he built a church. This was not very distant from Forgny, where he installed Munis, a disciple and a nephew on his sister's side. In the former church, he left St. Cromanius, otherwise named Cruimminus, while he bestowed some relics, which afterwards seem to have been there preserved.

A certain holy man, named Cruemus—more correctly Cruminus—had a vision, regarding the birth of St. Fechin, Abbot of Fore and of his place. That holy man called Cruemus is supposed to have been identical with the present saint; while Fore is situated eastwards, and within the distance of six or seven miles from Leckin. It is likely, moreover, that a monastic institute of some sort had been established in connexion with the church of Lecain, as St. Patrick is stated to have left some of his disciples at that place with St. Cromanius. No doubt, as guardian, he ruled over this small community, he being also rector of the church. In the Feilire of St. Aengus, at the 28th of June, the festival of St. Crumine is noted ; while, he is characterized as a distinguished personage, in connection with Leccan, of Meath. In a comment appended, Leccan is described as being in Ui-Macc Uais Midhe. It is not, however, in the modern barony of Ui-Mic-Uais, or Moygoish ; but, it lies a short distance from its eastern boundary, in the adjoining barony of Corkaree. This shows, that in the formation of baronies, the exact boundaries of our ancient territories were not always observed.  The Ui Mac-Uais were a tribe, descended from Colla Uais, monarch of Ireland in the fourth century.

The place of St. Crumine is now known as Leckin, a parish in the barony of Corkaree, and county of Westmeath. According to the Ordnance Survey Index Map of Westmeath County, the parish of Leckin is bounded on the north, by the River Inny, which separates it from the parishes of Russagh and Street, and which connects Lough Iron and Lough Derravaragh; on the east, by a portion of the latter Lough, and by the parish of Multyfarnham; on the south and west it is bounded by the parish of Leny. In the country of the Radii or Nepotes Radii —the present Corca-Ree—we learn that St. Patrick built a church, and he placed over it St. Cromeen, of whom very little is now known. It should be a curious subject for enquiry to find, if this holy person had been descended from the Fiacha Raidhe of this territory.

It has been said, as we have seen, that St. Patrick founded this church, and left holy relics at Lecain, of Meath, as also a party of his people with Crummaine. Although in some instances, Dr. O'Donovan has placed the ancient territory of Ui-Mac-Uais-Midhe, as being in East Meath, and to the south-west of Tara; yet, in other passages, he states, it is believed to have been identical with the present barony of Moyguish, in the county of Westmeath. It is suspected, however, that the present saint did not live  in the time of St. Patrick; but, that he was rather contemporaneous with St. Fechin of Fore, who died A.D. 664. Such is the opinion of Archdall; but, it seems to be unfounded, nor is it borne out by the authority to which he refers.There is an old church still to be seen at Leckin, near Bunbrusna.

This church, it is said, had been built by St. Cruimin, whose festival was formerly celebrated here, on the 28th of June.He is said, also, to have been a contemporary with St. Fechin, of Fore; but, it seems more than probable, that he lived fully a century, before the time of the latter. The old church at Leckin is of very considerable antiquity, and it is said to have been built, much in the style of St. Fechin's church at Fore, although not with like massive stones. The neighbouring quarries do not furnish large blocks, and the chief materials to be extracted from them are limestone flags. The lintel which covers the doorway heading is a thin light flag. The only remains of Leckin old church, existing towards the close of 1837, were the doorway, a small window of beautifully chiselled limestone—exactly similar to that in the east gable of St. Fechin's church—and a semicircular arch similar in style and position to the one in Dungiven old church. These features were to be seen, in a part of the south side wall, the only portion of the old church then existing. From its present remains, it is not easy to form any idea regarding the exact extent of this church when perfect. Opposite the doorway, and close to the south wall, a tombstone, shaped like a coffin, was to be seen. It bore an inscription in raised letters, but not in the Irish character. This tomb was well cut and ornamented, and was found some years before 1837, at the bottom of a grave. At Leckin—or as the people more generally pronounce it, Lackan—the old church measures 45 by 19 feet. The chancel remains in a fair state of preservation. Here was a holy well, dedicated to St. Crumin,  and situated in the south-east end of Leacain townland. The day after SS. Peter and Paul's great Festival was traditionally held to have been that for the local saint's celebration ; and, until the year 1822, a vast concourse of people visited their Holy Well for devotional purposes. The Ui-Mic-Uais-Breagh, a tribe seated in East Meath, and to the south-west of Tara, must be distinguished, as we are told, from the Ui-Mic-Uais-Teathbaa, who gave name to the present barony of Moygoish, in the north-west of Meath County.

At what exact time St. Crumine commenced his foundation here, or in what exact capacity he acted, and whether as Abbot or Bishop, is not known. According to an ancient tradition, he lived to be extremely old; but, we find no date for his death in our Annals. It had been thought, by Mr. O'Donovan, that there was a well named after this saint, in the parish of Kilbixy. We find his name entered, in the Martyrology of Donegal, at this same date, as Cruimmin, Bishop, in Lecain, of Meath, i.e. in Ui-Mac-Uais. Under the head of Leacan of Meath, Duald Mac Firbis likewise enters, Cruimin, bishop, at June 28th. St. Crumin is still held in great veneration throughout Westmeath, and his name is very familiar to the people. The foot-prints and traces of the saints should never be effaced; and, yet how many of our early holy ones have been forgotten, although the memory of good men ought always be preserved, as a light to guide and encourage others on their journey over the wilderness. The world gives us no better memorials; yet, have we to regret a total loss of the intellectual accomplishments and mental characteristics of so many, who doubtless in their day, gave lustre and example to their contemporaries. Those virtues have had their reward, although we may be unable, to present them in an exact order and review, for the edification of persons who survive in the present generation.

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