Sunday, 27 December 2015

Saint Tiopraite of Magh-ratha, December 27

We have another of the many obscure Irish saints commemorated on December 27. In the case of Tiopraite of Magh-ratha, the locality associated with him brings its own problems of identification. The Martyrology of Donegal records:

27. D. SEXTO KAL. JANUARII. 27.

TIOPRAITE, of Magh-ratha.

whilst the earlier Martyrology of Gorman says, rather more poetically:

27. d.

Tipraite fail findnoem

Tipraite a fair, holy fence

The index of places attached to the Martyrology lists a number of possible locations for Magh-ratha. The accepted wisdom has been to identify Magh-ratha with Moira, County Down, a locality said to have been the site of a famous eighth-century battle. The website Place Names NI sums up the latest scholarly thinking on the derivation of this place name, which is not as straightforward as it might at first sight appear. A nineteenth-century Irish antiquarian examined this matter and he mentions our saint in passing:

It also appears by the Calendar of Donegal, December 27, that there was another church in Magh Rath, dedicated to St. Tiopraite, but nothing more of it is known...


So, although I have tagged Saint Tiopraite under the Saints of County Down it's with the caveat that this identification is not certain. All I can say for sure is that his name is recorded on December 27 in two of the later Irish Martyrologies but when and where exactly he flourished remains open to question.

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