Tuesday, 3 May 2016

The Bishops of Kildare in the Early Middle Ages


The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter xvii, at p. 144 and following:

The see of Kildare seems indebted for its foundation to the celebrated nunnery established by St. Bridget in this place. The sanctity of this holy virgin and the excellence of her institute attracted hither vast multitudes so that it became very extensive and, in time, Kildare became a large and populous town. Hence arose a necessity for episcopal functions and thus St. Bridget was induced to make application for the appointment of a bishop. Her request was listened to and Conlaeth a person of retirement and sanctity was selected. He led for many years an ascetic life in a solitary spot on the banks of the Liffey. Conlaeth was consecrated about the year 490 and it would appear that this ceremony was conducted with more than usual magnificence as it was attended by many of the ancient and sainted fathers of the Irish Church.

Fiech, the bishop of Sletty, Ibar of Begerin, Erck of Slane, Maccaleus of Hy Falgia in the King's County and Bron of Caissel Iorra in Sligo and other prelates attended on this solemn occasion.

St. Conlaeth governed his see with great wisdom and during his incumbency the diocese of Kildare obtained a high rank among the sees of Ireland. It was not however the ecclesiastical metropolis of the province nor was its prelate recognized as an archbishop. Whatever preeminence existed in the province it pertained without doubt to the see of Sletty. Kildare enjoying this dignity at a later period when it was transferred from the see of Ferns in the 8th century. The cathedral of Kildare the most extensive and beautiful in the kingdom except that of Armagh belonged conjointly to the Nunnery of St Bridget and to the ordinary of the diocese.

Beyond the sanctuary the great aisle was divided by a partition. The bishop and his clergy entered the church by a door on the north side the abbess and her nuns entered by the south. St. Conlaeth, after a life of zeal and apostolical labors died the 3d of May 519. The names of his successors in the see of Kildare have been carefully handed down in an unbroken series until the year 1100 in which Aid O'Heremon became its bishop. St. Conlaeth was buried in the church of Kildare near the high altar. His bones or relics were AD 800 translated into a sliver gilt shrine and adorned with precious stones.

St Aid the black who, according to Colgan, from being king of Leinster became monk abbot and bishop of Kildare, died on the 10th of May 638. The annals of the Four Masters place the death of Aid abbot and bishop of Kildare in 638. It is probable that this abbot and bishop was only a member of the royal house of Leinster.

Lochen the Silent commonly called wise and styled abbot of Kildare. His memory is celebrated on the 12th of January and his death is mentioned under 694. Of him and his successor and others are doubts regarding their consecration as the annals of the Four Masters call them only abbots of Kildare. Sometimes the terms abbots and bishops are synonymous.

Farannan, whose death is mentioned in the year 697, his memory is kept on the 15th of January.

Maeldaborcon expressly styled bishop of Kildare died on the 19th of February 708.

Tola, a worthy soldier of Chris,t a bishop is omitted by Colgan. He died on the 3d of March 732.

Dima called also Modimoe was abbot of Kildare and Clonard. He died on the 3d of March 743.

Cathal O Farannan mentioned as abbot of Kildare died AD 747.

Lomtuil expressly called bishop of Kildare died AD 785.

Snedbran also called bishop of Kildare died in the same year.

Muredach O'Cathald abbot of Kildare died the same year.

Eudocius O'Diocholla abbot of Kildare died in 793.

Feolan O'Kellach abbot of Kildare died in May or June 799.

Lactan O Muctigern expressly called bishop of Kildare died in 813.

Murtogh O Kellagh abbot of Kildare died 820.

Sedulius abbot died in 828.

Tuadcar expressly called bishop of Kildare died AD 833.

Orthanac also bishop of Kildare died in 840.

Aedgene surnamed Brito, scribe, bishop and anchoret of Kildare, died AD 862 in the 116th year of his age.

Cohbtach O Muredach abbot of Kildare and a man of singular wisdom died in 868. Colgan says his festival is observed on the 18th of July.

Moengal bishop of Kildare died in 870. Lanigan puts Moengal as the successor of Aedgen

Robertac Mac Niserda bishop of Kildare, scribe and abbot of Achonry, died on the 15th of January 874.

Lasran Mac Moctigern bishop of Kildare, abbot of Fearna, died the same year.

Suibne O Finacta died in 880.

Seannal died in 884.

Largisius was slain in battle by the Danes of Dublin in 885.

Flanagan O Riagan called abbot of Kildare and prince of Leinster died in the year 920.

Crunmoel died on the 11th of December 929.

Malfinan died in 949 or 950.

Culian Mac Kellach abbot said to be slain by the Danes in 853.

Mured Mac Foelan of the royal blood of Leinster abbot of Kildare was slain by Amlave prince of the Danes and Kerbhal Mac Lorcan in 965.

Anmcaid bishop of Kildare died in 981 having spent a holy life to a good old age.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Sletty (Walsh)

The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter lviii, at p. 620:

Sletty in the barony of Sleevemarge The see of St Fiech the disciple and favorite of St Patrick and to whom the apostle presented many valuable gifts St Aidus bishop of Sletty who died in 699 and whose name occurs in the Irish calendars at the 7th of February and to whom a life of St Patrick was addressed by a writer called Macuthenus was one of the fathers who composed the synod of Flann Febhla primate of Armagh and of St Adamnan abbot of Hy Seven disciples of St Fiech rest in Sletty Moehatoc Augustin Tegan Dermot Nennid Paul a hermit and Fedhlim

Monday, 18 April 2016

St. Laserian of Leighlin

About a century after Ss. Brigid and Conleth Patrons of Kildare lived St. Laserian or Molaise Patron of Leighlin. Today is the 1,371st (or 1,372nd) anniversary of his birth to heaven.

Revd. Fr. Lanigan, D.D., in his An Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, Vol. II, p. 402 ff., 1829 Ed., states:

St. Laserian, the other great supporter of the new Paschal computation, was, it is said, (57) son of Cairel a nobleman of Ulster and of Gemma daughter of Aiden king of the British Scots. (58) The year of his birth is not known (59); and the early part of his life is involved in obscurity. According to one account he was a disciple of Fintau Munnu, while another places him under an abbot Murin. (60) When arrived at a mature age, he is said to have proceeded to Rome, and to have remained there for 14 years. (6l) Then we are told that he was ordained priest by Pope Gregory the great, and soon after returned to Ireland. Coming to Leighlin (Old Leighlin) he was most kindly received by St. Gobban, who there governed a monastery. This saint conceived such a high opinion of Laserian that he gave up to him his establishment, and went to erect a monastery elsewhere. (62) Laserian is said to have had 150O monks under him at Leighlin. (63) About the year 63O he went again to Rome, probably as chief of the deputation sent by the heads of the Southern clergy after the synod of Maghlene, (64) and was there consecrated bishop by the then Pope, Honorius I. (65) After his return to Ireland, in or about 633, he greatly contributed towards the final settlement of the Paschal question in the South, (66) which he survived only a few years, having died in 639 (67) on the 18th of April. This saint was buried in his own church at Leighlin, and his memory has been greatly revered in the province of Leinster. (68)

(57) The Bollandists have (at 18 April) a Life of Laserian or Lasrean, which, they say, was written after the year 1100. They jiv.tly observe, that it is a confused tract and often not worthy of credit. He is sometimes called Molossius or Molaissus, latinized from Mo and Laisre his real name, in the same manner as his nanlesake of Devcnish was so called, with whom he must not (as has been done by Hanmer, p. 123, new ed.) be confounded. (See Not. 124 to Chap, xn.)
(58) Ware (Antiq. cap. 29. and Bishops at Leighlin) says, that Laserian was son of Cairel de Blitha. Harris (Bishops) translates by Blitha; and perhaps this was Ware's meaning; for his account of this saint differs in many respects from that of the Life published by the Bollandists. For instance, according to Ware, his mother was daughter of a king of the Picts.
(59) The Bollandists supposed, (Comment. praev.) but without any authority, that he was born about 566. This conjecture is connected with a huge mistake of theirs, of which lower down, in stating that Fintan Munnu was then a monk in Hy.
(60) The Bollandist Life makes Fintan his master. But it is probable that Laserian was nearly as old as Fintan, who was young at the time of Columbkill's death in 597. In the account of the contest between them at Whitefield there is no allusion to this discipleship. According to Ware, Laserian studied under Murin, until he set out for Rome. Who this Murin was Ware does not tell us. He could not have been St. Murus of Fahen, (in Donegal!) who flourished about the middle of the seventh century. Perhaps the person meant by the name of Murin was Murgenius abbot of Glean-Ussen ; (see Chap. xiv. §. 11.) and there is reason to think, that Laserian studied rather in the South, where the clergy were inclined to receive the Roman cycle, than in the North where it was violently opposed.
(61) Ware agrees with the Life as to these 14 years spent at Rome. The Bollandists think that, instead of fourteen, we ought to read four.
(62) Colgan was of opinion (AA. SS. p. 750) that this was the Gobban who governed a church at [Kill-Lamhraighea, a place in the West of Ossory, viz. after having left Leighlin, and who was buried at Clonenagh. Archdall (at Leighlin) refers to Colgan and Usher as if placing the death of Gobban in 639, although Usher says nothing about him, nor does Colgan even mention his name in the page referred to.
(63) See Not. 36.
(64) Ib. I wish the account of Laserian's having been at Rome in the time of Gregory the Great were as well founded as that of his mission thither after the synod of Magh-lene.
(65) Usher, p. 938. Ware, Antiq. cap. 29.
(66) See Not. 36.
(67) Annals of Innisfallen. (68) Ware, loc. cit.

Revd. Fr. Walsh, in his History of the Irish Hierarchy, p. 149 ff., 1854 Ed., writes:

"In the year 616, St. Gobhan founded a celebrated abbey at old Leighlin. About the year 630, a synod of the clergy was held in St. Gobhan's abbey, to debate on the proper time for the celebration of Easter, which was attended by most of the superiors of all the religious houses in Ireland. In 632, St. Gobhan, entertaining a high opinion of Laserian, who supported the Roman custom of celebrating Easter, gave him up his abbey at old Leighlin, and went elsewhere to found another. He is said to have ruled over fifteen hundred monks; they supported themselves by manual labor; and by reason of their numbers and the fertile district in which they had been situated, were enabled to receive a greater complement of students and inmates than many of the other institutions of the country. The schools of old Leighlin held a high rank among the literary establishments of Ireland, in the 7th century. The fame which it acquired in foreign countries, as well as in Ireland, attracted such numbers of students and of religious persons to its halls, that old Leighlin soon became a town of great note, and the surrounding district was usually called the territory of saints and scholars.

"St. Laserian, the first bishop and founder of this see, was the son of Cairel, a nobleman of Ulster, and of Gemma, daughter of Aiden, king of the British Scots. The time of his birth is unknown, and the early portion of his life is involved in obscurity. By some he is said to have been the disciple of Fintan Munnu, and by another account to have been instructed by an abbot Murin.

"Having arrived at maturity, he is said to have travelled to Rome, and there sojourned fourteen years —ordained priest by Gregory the Great, and to have returned shortly after to Ireland. Having been sent to Rome about 630, probably as head of the deputation from the southern clergy after the synod of old Leighlin, he was consecrated bishop by Pope Honorius I., and made legate of Ireland. Having returned to Ireland he founded the see, A.D. 632, and previously to his death, which occurred on the 18th of April, 639, he was a chief instrument in finally settling the question of the Easter controversy, in the south of Ireland. In the same year died St. Gohhan, founder of the abbey."

Revd. Fr. Alban Butler, in his The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints, Vol. IV, p. 176 ff., 1866 Ed., tells us:

"Laserian was son of Cairel and Blitha, persons of great distinction, who intrusted his education, from his infancy, to the Abbot St. Murin. He afterwards travelled to Rome in the days of Pope Gregory the Great, by whom he is said to have been ordained priest. Soon after his return to Ireland, he visited Leighlin, a place situated a mile and a half westward of the river Barrow, where St. Goban was then abbot, who, resigning to him his abbacy, built a little cell for himself and a small number of monks. A great synod being soon after assembled there, in the White Fields, St. Laserian strenuously maintained the Catholic time of celebrating Easter against St. Munnu. This council was held in March 630. But St. Laserian not being able to satisfy in it all his opponents, took another journey to Rome, where Pope Honorius ordained him bishop, without allotting him any particular see, and made him his legate in Ireland. Nor was his commission fruitless: for, after his return, the time of observing Easter was reformed in the south parts of Ireland. St. Laserian died on the 18th of April, 638, and was buried in his own church which he had founded. In a synod held at Dublin, in 1330, the feasts of St. Patrick, St Laserian, St. Bridget, St. Canic, and St. Edan, are enumerated among the double festivals through the province of Dublin. St. Laserian was the first bishop of Old Leighlin, now a village.— New Leighlin stands on the eastern bank of the river Barrow See Ware, p. 54, and Colgan's MSS. on the 18th of April."

St. Laserian of Leighlin pray for us!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Clonenagh (Walsh)

The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter lviii, at p. 617-18:

Clonenagh in the barony of Maryborough St Fintan of Clonenagh was the celebrated master of Comgall of Bangor Fintan was a native of Leinster and son of Gabhren and Findath both of whom were Christians On the eighth day after his birth he was baptized at Cluain mic trein which was probably in the neighborhood of Ross His birth took place about the year 520 He received his early education under the holy man by whom he had been baptized and when of mature age he attached himself to St Columba son of Crimthan with whom he remamed until by his advice he established himself at Clonenagh about 548 Young as Fintan was his reputation for sanctity soon spread so that numbers of persons from various quarters of Ireland flocked to Clonenagh and became members of his institution His monks not only lived by the sweat of their brows but cultivated the ground with the spade not having as much as a cow to assist them in their agricultural labors The discipline of the house was exceedingly severe and the fasting seemed almost intolerable to some holy men St Cannech among others on whose interference Fintan relaxed the discipline allowing milk to the monks while towards himself he was unbending It is related that Cormac a young prince son of Dearmod king of Hy Kinsellagh was kept in chains by Colman king of North Leinster and who intended to put him to death and that St Fintan having gone with some of his disciples to the king's residence in order to procure the deliverance of the young prince so affrighted Colman or Colum that he gave him up This young prince having afterwards ruled for a considerable time ended his days in the monastery of St Comgall of Bangor Fintan was also gifted with a prophetic spirit an instance of which is stated to have happened on hearing an unworthy priest offering the holy sacrifice Being horror struck at his impiety the saint foretold that this unhappy priest would abandon his order and habit and returning to the world would die in his sins Columbkille is said to have had such an esteem for Fintan that he directed a young religious named Columbanus of the district of Leix who was returning from Hy to Ireland to choose him for his spiritual director and confessor Accordingly Columbanus waited upon him and related what the holy abbot of Hy had recommended Fintan desired that he would not mention it to any other person during his lifetime and died very soon after Before his death which was somewhat prior to that of Columbkille he appointed with the permission and benediction of the brethren and of other holy men who had come to visit him Fintan Maeldubh as abbot and successor at Clonenagk Blessing his community and partaking of the body of the Lord he departed this life on the 17th of February His name is mentioned with particular respect in various Martyrologies both foreign and Irish The year of his death is not mentioned as is the case with other saints of Ireland while the day is faithfully recorded Natalis which means a natal or birth day is used to express the day of a saint's death because he then enters on a life that is everlasting other hagiologists say Ccepit vivere he begins to live hence it is the day on which the memory of the saint is preserved while the year of his death is omitted AD 625 died the abbot St Fintan Maeldubh His festival is observed on the 20th of October AD 830 the Danes destroyed this abbey AD 866 died the abbot Laicten AD 909 died Tiopraid bishop of this abbey AD 919 again plundered by the Danes AD 937 Ceallachan king of Cashell assisted by the Danes of Watorford wasted the country of Meath pillaged and sacked this abbey making the abbot a prisoner AD 940 Ceallach bishop of Clonenach died AD 970 died the bishop and abbot Muredach O Connor AD 991 died the abbot Diarmit a professor of Kildare and a man of uncommon erudition

Monday, 4 April 2016

St. Ethbin of Kildare

St. Ethbin was born in Great Britain; and died in Kildare about the year 600. He was of noble birth. His father died when he was only about 15 years of age. His widowed mother then entrusted his education to his countryman, Saint Samson of Dol Abbey in Brittany.

One day, while Ethbin was at Mass, he really heard the words: "Every one of you that cannot renounce all that he possesses, cannot be my disciple." He immediately resolved to renounce the world. Because he was a deacon, Ethbin sought the permission of his bishop to withdraw from the world. Upon receiving it, Ethbin retired to the abbey of Taurac. This was about the year 554.

For his spiritual director, this saint chose another: Saint Winwaloë. The community of Taurac was dispersed by a Frankish raid in 556 and Winwaloë died soon thereafter.

Ethbin then crossed over to Ireland, where he led the life of a hermit for 20 years in a forest near Kildare, now unidentifiable, called Nectensis. Historically, there was no cultus for Saint Ethbin in Ireland. His relics are claimed by Montreuil and Pont-Mort in France. The date assigned to his feast, for example, in the Martyrology of Donegal, is 19th October.

St. Ethbin of Kildare, pray for us!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Abbeyleix (Walsh)

The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter lviii, at p. 615:

Abbey Leix on the river Nore and iu the barony of Cullinagh This abbey was founded in honor of the Virgin Mary AD 1183 by Corcheger O More The monks were brought thither from the Cistercian abbey of Bal tinglass AD 1421 the 7th of May a great slaughter was made near this abbey by O More of the retinue of Lord Ormond then lord lieutenant of Ireland Twenty seven of the English were cut off the chief of whom were Purcell and Grant ten persons of superior rank were made prisoners and two hundred others were saved by flying to this monastery No counties in Ireland were more dearly purchased by the English adventurers than the King's and Queen's The O Moores were engaged more than sixty years in deadly conflict with the invaders The lands of this abbey 1227 acres were granted by lease for thirty seven years to Thomas earl of Ormond at the yearly rent of 6 16s 8d and afterwards at their reversion at an increased rent of 10 5s The family of Ormond have profited much by their fidelity to the English government The duke of Ormond so celebrated in the Irish annals of the seventeenth century obtained enormous grants of lands tithes and impropriations The book of the exiled Nicholas French bishop of Ferns called the Unkind Deserter has unmasked the cause of the duke's treachery to the cause of his king and country This tract is at present extremely rare as the family of the duke in order to keep to themselves the secrets which it divulged purchased at any price wherever they could find it such an obnoxious piece of evidence Similar has been the prudence of English parsons in buying up from Catholic booksellers Cobbett's History of the Reformation A trace of the abbey of Leix is not to be found It seems that its ruins were as cutting as the Unkind Deserter

Kilashee (Walsh)

The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter xlviii, at p. 488:

Killossy called after St Auxilius the nephew of St Patrick and son of Restitutus the Lombard was bishop here and assisted St Patrick in compiling the ordinances by which the Irish church was to be guided St Auxilius died on the 27th of August 455.

Monday, 7 March 2016

St. Erk of Slane

St. Erk of Slane, Bishop
Friend of St. Brigid of Kildare, co-consecrator of St. Conleth, first Bishop of Kildare.

“St. Erk, ‘the sweet spoken judge’, was, in all probability, a native of Munster; and is said to have been page to King Laoghaire at the time he showed this respect to St. Patrick. [Lanigan, vol. 1, p. 346] He was consecrated some time before the year 465, and was the first bishop of the ancient diocese of Slane, and abbot of the monastery which was erected there by St. Patrick. He is said to have been the preceptor of St. Brendan, and was an intimate friend of St. Brigid. At the synod of Magh-Femyn, in Tipperary, it is related that Erk spoke highly of the great abbess of Kildare, and of the miraculous favours with which she was endowed by the Almighty. He assisted at the consecration of Conlaeth, first bishop of Kildare, and took an active part in all the ecclesiastical movements of the age… Colgan says that, in the old calendars, Ercus is treated of on 2nd of October and 2nd of November Probus, writing of him in the tenth century, says: “Hercus, filius Dego, cujus reliquae nunc venerantur in civitate, quae vocatur Slane.”

From: The Diocese of Meath, Ancient and Modern, by Rev. A. Cogan, C.C., Published in Dublin, 1862.

St. Erk of Slane, pray for us!

Friday, 4 March 2016

Baltinglass Abbey

The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter lxvi, at p. 715:

Baltinglass a market town in the barony of Talbotstown on the river Slaney Dearmit Mac Murrogh O Cavanagh king of Leinster founded the abbey of Baltinglass for Cistercians in which he was interred about the year 1151 AD 1185 Albinus O Mulloy was abbot of Baltinglass attended the synod held in Christ church by John Comyn archbishop of Dublin inveighed in his discourse against the incontinence of the English clergy for having by their ill example vitiated the hitherto untainted probity and innocence of the clergy of Ireland Albinus was made bishop of Ferns See diocese of AD 1314 Griffin was abbot AD 1346 the better to enable the king Edward III to resist his Irish enemies the clergy of Meath granted to him in this year 40 the county of Louth 20 the prebendaries of the church of St Patrick Dublin 40 marcs the prior of St John of Jerusalem 40 marcs the clergy of Ossory 20 the clergy of Ferns 10 and the abbot of Baltinglass 10 marcs for the aforesaid purpose AD 1377 Philip the abbot received a full and free pardon for all seditions felonies breaches of the peace conspiracies confederacies false allegations and all other transgressions whatsoever by him committed and for which he had been indicted AD 1380 it was enacted by the parliament of the pale that no mere Irishman should be permitted to make his profession in the abbey of Baltinglass which an Irish prince had founded AD 1488 the abbot received a pardon for his participation in the affair of Lambert Simnell John Galbally was the last abbot At the suppression of the abbey AD 1537 an annual pension was granted to him The abbot of Baltinglass De valle salutis sat as a baron of parliament By an inquisition taken in the thirty third of Henry VIII the possessions were forty acres of pasture one hundred of wood a mill and watercourse in Baltinglass together with thirty messuages seven hundred and twenty acres of arable and pasture land in various parts of the counties of Wicklow and Kildare This abbey and its possessions were granted to Thomas Eustace Viscount Baltinglass and by the thirtieth of Elizabeth a second grant was made to Sir Henry Harrington to hold for ever at the annual rent of 11 19s Irish money

Tullow Priory (Walsh)

The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter xxxvii, at p. 369:

Tullach a village in the barony of Ravilly on the river Slaney In the sixth year of the reign of king Edward II Simon Lombard and Hugh Tallon granted to the Eremites of St Augustin a house and three acres of land in the village of St John near this place Tullagh John de Kell was prior in 1331 and in that year king Edward III confirmed their grant Tullagh was a strong place in the time of Cromwell who took it with great slaughter of the Irish Queen Elizabeth granted this monastery in 1557 to Thomas earl of Ormond

Preceptory of Killarge (Walsh)

The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter xxxvii, at p. 366-8:

Killarge In the reign of king John Gilbert de Borard founded a preceptory in this place under the invocation of St John the Baptist for knights Templars but on the extinction of that order it was granted to the knights of St John of Jerusalem In the year 1308 the king Edward II having received the commands of the Pope caused all the knights Templars in Great Britain and Ireland to be made prisoners and their property to be sequestered Being a formidable body of men it was necessary that much caution should be observed in the management of this affair There was a writ directed to John Wogan Lord Justice of Ireland informing him of the proceedings adopted in England for the apprehension of the Templars and seizure of their goods and commanding him to proceed in a similar manner against those in Ireland but the time and place for the assembling of the sheriffs and their followers was left to the discretion of the said lord justice and the treasurer of the exchequer It was however ordered that the writ should be executed before the Templars could learn the proceedings against the members of the order in England In pursuance of those commands the establishments of Killarge and Ballymoon were suppressed The instructions given to the English sheriffs were that they should arrest all the Templars within their districts to seize all their lands cattle and goods and to cause an inventory of the same to be made in presence of the warden of the place whether Templar or not and of respectable persons in the neighborhood to place said goods and chattels in safe keeping to keep the Templars in safe custody in some convenient place without subjecting them to prison or to irons and to preserve the charge of the goods and chattels till they received instructions as to their final disposal The military order of the Templars was instituted about the year 1113 Some noblemen who had followed Godfrey de Bouillon to theholy wars against the Turks were the founders of this military institute They were nine in number and the principals were Hugh de Paganis and Godfrey de Sacro Amore They associated for the purpose of preserving the holy places and defending the pilgrims from the outrages of the Turks while on their way to the Holy Land To the three vows of which they made profession before the patriarch of Jerusalem they added a fourth that of perpetual warfare with the Turks They obtained the name of Templars because at the desire of Baldwin the Second king of Jerusalem they inhabited a house that was adjacent to the temple of Solomon They afterwards in the year 1128 became a religious order were confirmed as such by Pope Honorius H and St Bernard compiled a rule which they were to observe The order of knights Templars being accused of various crimes Pope Clement V called a council at Vienna with a view as he himself declared of ascertaining the truth of those allegations This council was held in the year 1311 and is the fifteenth oecumenical one of the Church The second reason was to deliberate on the rescue or relief of the Holy Land and the third motive was to provide for the maintenance of morals and discipline The decree of extinction which was only however provisional not definitive was passed on the sixth of the nones of May AD 1312 It appears they were justly condemned though the contrary is asserted The pontiff Clement V after due examination which he instituted wrote to Philip the Fair of France that the crimes of the Templars were acknowledged by seventy four members of their body that they had freely and without any coercion whatever affirmed on oath the truth of their guilt and among other things confessed that it was usual in the admission of members to abjure the Redeemer and spit upon the Cross that they committed horrible and disgusting crimes which he could not mention It is moreover absurd to suppose that all the cardinals bishops inquisitors officials magistrates and others could be so unmindful of their obligations and of public justice as to be influenced in their judgment in order to gratify the cupidity or the resentment of Philip the Fair of France Whether guilty or not as the order became suspected it became useless as no honest or well disposed person would embrace its institute Queen Elizabeth granted the commandery of Killarge to Mary wife of Gerald Aylmer on the 12th of December 1590

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Seventeenth Century Cork

How Catholic merchants and tradesmen could raise
their heads and flourish as they did, in the face of
such disadvantages, is surprising. A pamphleteer,
who signs himself Alexander the Coppersmith, wrote
" Remarks on the Religion, Trade, Government, Police,
Customs, Manners and Maladies of the City of Cork,"
in 1737, in which he gives his friends as many home
thrusts as his enemies, for Alexander was a perfect
Diogenes. He tells the Protestants, that through
wealth, pride, envy and insolence, they have lost the
trade of the city, which the Catholics have gained by
vigilance. A most important branch of trade was the
export of beef to our plantations. He says, that now
" French gallies come hither, always consigned to a
Popish factor,* whose relations and correspondence
abroad, and union at home, whose diligence being
more, and luxury less, than Protestants, will, at last,
swallow up the trade, and suck the marrow of this
city, and, like the ivy, will grow to be an oak, and
prove absolute in their power over the commerce of
those on whom they should be dependent for bread ;
as a certain baronet observed, about four years ago,
how secure do men of that religion live in despite of

* Popish factor. By the charter of Charles I. it is enacted, that " no foreign
merchant shall, within the city, buy from a foreigner, corn, hides or wool, or any
other merchandize, but from the said citizens." We conclude that these words,
strictly interpreted, would exclude all who were not freemen, i.e. Protestants, from
trading with foreigners. The freemen only were to be the factors.



PROTESTANT AND CATHOLIC DEALERS. 193

the law, whilst Protestants look idly on, and by an
easiness of temper, peculiar to themselves, suspend
the execution of the laws, which never required, not
at their first meeting, a more severe execution than
at this day.

" By running away with this profitable branch, not
only the prejudice they do a Protestant trader, but the
benefit arising to Popish dealers and tradesmen is
destructive of the Protestant interest of the city. From
the mutual kindness of all men under oppression, and
a natural hatred of their oppressors, they deal with
and always employ one another. If a papist at the
gallows wanted an ounce of hemp, he'd skip the Pro-
testant shops, and run to Mallow Lane, to buy it ; and
as the jurisdiction they acknowledge is abroad, they
would live independent of the state at home, where
they poison all things they touch. They have no regard
to posterity ; they consider nothing but the present ;
their schemes are always big with cunning, they want
ingenuity, [ingenuousness] the life of business. In
all works, regardless of the future, they mar the best
undertakings, to make what they can of everything
now."

There is something so extravagant, and at the same
time so shrewd, in the remarks of Alexander the
Coppersmith, that we feel disposed to rank him as a
Catholic in disguise. The very name,* Alexander the
Coppersmith, is that of an enemy in the camp. William
Boles, one of the True-blue Protestants of those days,
says, he can't find the Coppersmith in any of the reli-

* The very name." Alexander the Coppersmith did me much evil. The Lord
reward him according to his works." St. Paul's second Epistle to Timothy, chap.
4, v. 14.

VOL. II. 13



194 HISTORY OF CORK.

gious sects of the city. " If it be possible to fix such
a vagrant in religion," he thinks it must be " among
the Papists." Alexander must surely be sneering
when he says, " As the king, lords and commons have
agreed upon the first [the Protestant] to be the most
laudable mode of Christianity, I think every wise man
must acknowledge, that in obedience to an act of parlia-
ment, we should be all of the established church."

In speaking of the great success of Catholics, as the
result of active industry in despite of corporate and
guild privileges, he takes occasion to pour the most
unmeasured contempt upon chartered rights, which
had inflicted more permanent injury on those who
possessed them, than on those who were denied them.
He saw that the petted, pampered, and spoiled child
had become the feeblest of the flock. "After the
strictest scrutiny I could make into any privilege they
can squeeze out of their charter, I really find that they
have a right merely to exist, and meet by courtesy in
the city court, where, by the power of custom, they
may shut their door, talk of their grants, swallow
their sack, and do nothing." But they did do some-
thing, for he tells us in the same breath, "The
original intention of incorporating tradesmen was to
discover and prevent frauds in trade, which valuable
qualification they have converted into a power to raise
money, oppress the workmen, and hunt them out of
the city."

Many of our Cork merchants must have been hor-
ribly out at the elbows,* if anything like the following

* Out at the elbows. A bye-law was passed in 1612, requiring every council-
man who appeared in court, to come in a good and sufficient gowa of his own, and



THE BAILIFFS AND MERCHANTS. 195

be true, that about a hundred and fifty of them paid
the bailiffs so much a-week, to give them time and
civil treatment. "With what impudence will some
of these fellows approach a merchant, and sneer fami-
liarly in his face upon change ; and they get more hats
[salutes] in walking the streets, than a mayor out of
office. If ever I see an honest man salute a bailiff in
the street, I immediately pronounce him his prisoner."
" Mark the courtiers," says Lord Bacon, " those who
bow first to the citizens are in debt j those who bow
first to us [Bacon was a lawyer] are at law."

The landed proprietors or esquires without the city,
were no better off than the merchants. Mr. Jeffreys,
of Blarney, had a horse that was able to scent a bailiff
at any reasonable distance, and bring his master off as
safe as Tarn O'Shanter. An invaluable animal at such
a period, and one that would have brought a high
price, if money had not been so scarce.

Some of the Protestant churches were going to de-
cay in the early part of the eighteenth century, as fast
as the Protestant merchants. An act was passed in
1735, by the corporation, " that the cathedral church of
St. Fin-Barry, in the city of Cork, was, by length of
time, grown so ruinous and decayed, that it was not
safe for the inhabitants of said parish to attend divine
service therein, and that it had become absolutely
necessary to pull down the same in order to have it
rebuilt, and that the economy of the dean and chapter
belonging to said cathedral, by reason of the smallness
of its fund, and that the inhabitants of said parish,
by reason of their poverty, were unable to support the
whole charge of rebuilding the cathedral."

Another act was passed by the said corporation
" That the parish of Saint Nicholas, in the south
suburbs of the city of Cork, was so small, and the
bounds thereof so intermeddled with other small con-
tiguous parishes, or parts of the said south liberties,
called and described by the name of parishes (and in
which no church was or could be built), that no pro-
vision could be made for the support of a clergyman
to officiate in the church then built, in said parish,
nor even to repair said church, and in which, on that
account, there had been no divine service for some
time, and that said church was in danger of going to
ruin. And also reciting that the inhabitants of the
parishes, or parts of the south liberties called by these
names, viz., St. Bridget's, St. John's of Jerusalem, St.
Nicholas's, St. Stephen's, St. Mary's, and St. Domi-



PROTESTANT AND CATHOLIC CHUECHES. 201

nick's, had there no church to resort to for the public
worship of God, for remedy whereof it was enacted,
that the Bishop of Cork, with the approbation of the
archbishop, and consent of the dean and chapter, and
a majority of the inhabitants of the said parishes,
might, at a vestry in St. Nicholas's church, unite said
parishes to St. Nicholas's parish for ever, provided,
however, as the parish of St. Bridget was then the
corps of the chancellorship of the cathedral, that the
united parish of St. Nicholas should ever thereafter be
deemed and construed to be the corps of the chancel-
lorship of same, and that the chancellor of the cathe-
dral should be deemed and become, to all intents and
purposes whatsoever, the rector and minister of said
united and newly erected parish of St. Nicholas.


The Catholic faith and worship were advancing as
fast as the Protestant religion was declining :

" AJX 1698. There were in this county 30 regular
clergy and 97 seculars, of whom 75 were this year
shipped off from Cork, their passage and provisions
being paid for by act of parliament.

"A.D, 1703. Sixty- two Eoman Catholic priests
were registered in the county and city of Cork, of
whom fifty -two were in the county and four in the city.

"A.D. 1729. The north and south chapels were
built.

"A.D. 1732. According to a return made by the
hearth-money collectors in this and the following
year, there were in the city of Cork 2,569 Protestant
and 5,398 Eoman Catholic families."

A

Monday, 1 February 2016

St. Connat of Kildare

Today is the feast given in the Martyrology of Donegal for St. Connat or Comnat or Comnantan who was Abbess of Kildare in succession to St. Brigid until her death in the year 590.

Nothing is recorded of her life but it is an excellent opportunity to recall to mind the many excellent women of the Convent of Kildare, particularly her sister Abbesses, St. Darlaugdach, Abbess of Kildare, who was the immediate successor of St. Brigid and lived for but a year after the great foundress, St. Tulalla, a near contemporary of St. Connat, St. Sebdana, Abbess of Kildare, who died in the year 726, St. Affrica, Abbess of Kildare, who died in the year 738, and St. Finnia, Abbess of Kildare, who died in the year 801.

All ye holy Abbesses of Kildare, pray for us!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Our First Dublin Pilgrimage of 2016

 





On a glorious January morning, despite very short notice, members and friends of St. Laurence's Catholic Heritage Association make a pilgrimage north to St. Fintan's Church, Sutton.  The Mass was offered for a member recently deceased.  The Church is in the lea of the beautiful Head of Howth and looks across the northern stretches of Dublin Bay towards Bull Island and the harbour.  It was a magnificent way to begin our pilgrimage year in the Archdiocese of Dublin, which had ended in 2015 with the celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary Form by His Grace the Archbishop.  

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Achad Finglass Abbey (Walsh)

The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter xxxvii, at p. 366:

Achad Finglass This abbey was situated near Leighlin on the east of the river Barrow in the district of Idrone the precise time of its erection is not known St Fintan of Clonenagh may have been the founder This abbey was one of note in the year 864 as the Danes then pillaged it St Aidus was abbot of this monastery The festival of this saint is observed on the 11th of April St Fintan having been at Achad Finglass advised a bishop Brandubh who applied for admission into the monastery of Clonenagh to remain where he was as the rule was less severe.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Pilgrimage to St. Brigid's, Annacurra, Co. Wicklow

Your are cordially invited to join us for our first pilgrimage and Traditional Latin Mass of the new Year, the Year of Mercy, in St. Brigid's Parish Church, Annacurra, 3 km south of Aughrim, Co. Wicklow.  There is not, as Tom Moore's melody has it, in the wide world a valley so sweet as the vale of Avoca.  Set on the banks of the River Aughrim, a tributary of the Avoca River, Annacurra (or Annacurragh) possesses some of that sweetness in addition to charm of its own.  The lovely Church of St. Brigid celebrated its 150th year two years ago and this Saturday - Saturday, 23rd January, at 12 noon - it will host a Traditional Latin Mass for the first time in goodness knows how long.

Built to the design of Richard Pearse Jr., son of the noted Wexford Architect, the foundation stone for the Church was laid in 1859 and the opening ceremony took place on St. Patrick's Day, 1864.  The beautiful East Window depicting Saints Brigid, Patrick and Columba, was designed by Pugin and Ashlin, executed by McCann's of Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, and installed for the opening of the Church.  The bell was installed a year later and the organ in 1867.















Monday, 11 January 2016

Pilgrimage to Allen

We started the year well, with a pilgrimage to Allen, Co. Kildare, a spot rich in Catholic heritage.  For us, it is the home place and burial place of one of our founder members - it is a holy and a wholesome thing to remember our debt to deceased members.

At the Hill of Allen we have a traditional residence of Fionn MacCumhail, the son-in-law of King Cormac MacAirt, the greatest of the High Kings of Ireland, who, by a happy inspiration, renounced the Pagan Gods and embraced the One True God, even before the arrival of Saint Patrick.  Sir Samuel Ferguson's poem gives the account:

"Crom Cruach and his sub-gods twelve,"
 Said Cormac "are but carven treene;
 The axe that made them, haft or helve,
 Had worthier of our worship been.

"But He who made the tree to grow,
 And hid in earth the iron-stone,
 And made the man with mind to know
 The axe's use, is God alone."

Anon to priests of Crom was brought —
Where, girded in their service dread,
They minister'd on red Moy Slaught —
Word of the words King Cormac said.

They loosed their curse against the king;
They cursesd him in his flesh and bones;
And daily in their mystic ring
They turn'd the maledictive stones,

Till, where at meat the monarch sate,
Amid the revel and the wine,
He choked upon the food he ate,
At Sletty, southward of the Boyne.

High vaunted then the priestly throng,
And far and wide they noised abroad
With trump and loud liturgic song
The praise of their avenging God.

But ere the voice was wholly spent
That priest and prince should still obey,
To awed attendants o'er him bent
Great Cormac gather'd breath to say, —

"Spread not the beds of Brugh for me
When restless death-bed's use is done:
But bury me at Rossnaree
And face me to the rising sun.

"For all the kings who lie in Brugh
Put trust in gods of wood and stone;
And 'twas at Ross that first I knew
One, Unseen, who is God alone.

"His glory lightens from the east;
His message soon shall reach our shore;
And idol-god, and cursing priest
Shall plague us from Moy Slaught no more."

Dead Cormac on his bier they laid: —
"He reign'd a king for forty years,
And shame it were," his captains said, 
"He lay not with his royal peers."

"His grandsire, Hundred-Battle, sleeps
Serene in Brugh: and, all around,
Dead kings in stone sepulchral keeps
Protect the sacred burial ground.

"What though a dying man should rave
Of changes o'er the eastern sea?
In Brugh of Boyne shall be his grave,
And not in noteless Rossnaree."

Then northward forth they bore the bier,
And down from Sletty side they drew,
With horsemen and with charioteer,
To cross the fords of Boyne to Brugh.

There came a breath of finer air
That touch'd the Boyne with ruffling wings,
It stir'd him in his sedgy lair 
And in his mossy moorland springs.

And as the burial train came down
With dirge and savage dolorous shows,
Across their pathway, broad and brown
The deep, full-hearted river rose;

From bank to bank through all his fords,
'Neath blackening squalls he swell'd and boil'd;
And thrice the wondering gentile lords 
Essay'd to cross, and thrice recoil'd.

Then forth stepp'd grey-hair'd warriors four:
They said, "Through angrier floods than these,
On link'd shields once our king we bore
From Dread-Spear and the hosts of Deece."

"And long as loyal will holds good,
And limbs respond with helpful thews,
Nor flood, nor fiend within the flood,
Shall bar him of his burial dues."

With slanted necks they stoop'd to lift;
They heaved him up to neck and chin;
And, pair and pair, with footsteps swift,
Lock'd arm and shoulder, bore him in.

'Twas brave to see them leave the shore;
to mark the deep'ning surges rise,
And fall subdued in foam before 
The tension of their striding thighs.

'Twas brave, when now a spear-cast out,
Breast-high the battling surges ran;
For weight was great, and limbs were stout,
And loyal man put trust in man.

But ere they reach'd the middle deep,
Nor steadying weight of clay they bore,
Nor strain of sinewy limbs could keep
Their feet beneath the swerving four.

And now they slide, and now they swim,
And now, amid the blackening squall,
Grey locks aloat, with clutching grim,
They plunge around the floating pall.

While, as a youth with practiced spear
Through justling crowds bears off the ring,
Boyne from their shoulders caught the bier
And proudly bore away the king.

At morning, on the grassy marge
Of Rossnaree, the corpse was found,
And shepherds at their early charge
Entomb'd it in the peaceful ground.

A tranquil spot: a hopeful sound
Comes from the ever youthful stream,
And still on daisied mead and mound
The dawn delays with tenderer beam.

Round Cormac Spring renews her buds:
In march perpetual by his side,
Down come the earth-fresh April floods,
And up the sea-fresh salmon glide;

And life and time rejoicing run
From age to age their wonted way;
But still he waits the risen Sun,
For still 'tis only' dawning Day.




Allen was the seat of the Bishops of Kildare in hiding during the Penal Era.  Bishop Comerford in his Collections quotes from a letter of Bishop Doyle of Kildare and Leighlin from 6th July, 1823:

“I am here placed in the centre of an immense bog, which takes its name from a small hill under whose declivity the chapel and house are built, where I now write. What perhaps interests me most in the wide and vast expanse of the Bog of Allen is, that it afforded, for nearly two centuries, a place of refuge to the apostolic men who have gone before me in preaching the faith, and administering the sacraments to a people in every respect worthy of such pastors. The haunts and retreats frequented by the Bishops of Kildare in the times of persecution are still pointed out by aged inhabitants of these marshes with a sort of pride mingled with piety; and they say-‘There he administered Confirmation; here he held an assembly of the clergy; on that hill he ordained some young priests, whom he sent to France to Spain, to Italy; and we remember, or we heard, how he lived in yonder old walls in common with the young priests whom he prepared for the mission. He sometimes left us with a staff in his hand, and being absent months, we feared he would never return; but he always came back, until he closed his days amongst us. Oh! If you saw him; he was like St. Patrick himself.’ What think you, my dear friend, must be my reflections on hearing of the danger, and labours, and virtues of these good men, and what a reproach to my own sloth, and sensuality, and pride! They of whom the world was not worthy, and who went about in fens and morasses, in nakedness, and thirst, and hunger, and watching, and terror, will be witnesses against me for not using to the best advantage the blessings which their merits have obtained from God for their children. Their spirit, indeed, seems to dwell here, and in those remote and uncultivated districts there are found a purity and simplicity of morals truly surprising. From five to six o’ clock this morning the roads and fields were covered with poor people, young and old, healthy and infirm, hurrying to see the Bishop, and assist at his Mass, and hear his instructions. They thought he should be like those saints whom they had seen or heard of to have gone before him”

Allen was the parish where the famous Father Moore ministered towards the end of that Era and was killed in hatred of his Priesthood on 12th March, 1826, aged 47 years, and where his healing ministry continues at the nearby Father Moore's Well to this day.

The first Mass in the present magnificent Church was celebrated on Easter Sunday, 1872.  Despite being one of the gems of Church architecture in the Diocese - recently magnificently restored - it is barely mentioned by Bishop Comerford, the great historian of the Diocese.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Saint Iotharnaisc of Clane

Today marks the feast of a Kildare saint, Iotharnaisc of Clane and below is a post from my own site Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae in which I have gathered together some information on his life. In the Irish sources our saint is linked with another holy man, Ultan Tua, but Saint Iotharnaisc is even better known in Scotland where his feast day appears in the early sixteenth-century Breviary of Aberdeen:

December 22 is the feast of Saint Iotharnaisc of Clane, County Kildare, whom we met last year in a post on Saint Ultan Tua. It seems that Saint Iotharnaisc also had a Scottish link, where he appears under the Latinization of his name, Saint Ethernascus or as Saint Athernaise the Hermit or the Mute of Fife. It is interesting that he retains his reputation for maintaining the discipline of silence in both countries. Dom Michael Barrett has an entry for Saint Ethernascus in his calendar of the Scottish saints:
22 St. Ethernascus, Confessor. 
FROM his retired life and spirit of recollection this Irish saint was known as "Ethernascus, who spoke not," or "The Silent." He was one of the chief patrons of Clane, in the county of Kildare. It is difficult to determine what was his precise connection with Scotland, but his office occurs with a proper prayer in the Breviary of Aberdeen. The church of Lathrisk, in Fifeshire, was dedicated to St. Ethernascus conjointly with St. John the Evangelist.

Dom Michael Barrett, O.S.B., A Calendar of Scottish Saints (Fort Augustus, 1919), 180.

Bishop Forbes supplies the collect for the day from the Breviary of Aberdeen:
ETHERNASCUS, C. December 22.— 
The Breviary gives only a collect. "O God, who didst will that the soul of blessed Ethernascus, thy confessor, should penetrate to the stars of heaven, vouchsafe that, as we celebrate his venerable birthday, we may, by his intercessions, be deemed of thy mercy, in respect of his merits, meet to ascend to the joys of his blessed life, through our Lord." There is an antiphon to the Magnificat, but no lections to the feast. 
In the Irish Kalendars, under this day, we find, in the Felire of Aengus— 
Itharnaisc nad labrae.
[Itharnaisc who spoke not.] 
In the Martyrology of Donegal, "Ultan Tua and Iotharnaisc, two saints who are (buried or principally venerated) at Claonadh, i.e. a church which is in Ui Faelain in Leinster." This is Clane, in the county of Kildare. 
He is of Lathrisk in Fife, where we find a church dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and S. Ethernasc by David de Burnham on the v. of the Kalends of August 1243.—(Regist. Priorat. S. And. 348; 0. S. A vi p. 15.) The name Lanthrisk, or Lathrisk, contains evidently the Welsh Llan, which we find in Scotland elsewhere, as at Lumphanan, and Panmure and Panbride— the p and l being interchangeable, as we find in the Spanish where plenus becomes lleno. It is quite in accordance with probability that a Kildare saint should be found in the Church of Kenneth Macalpin. Thus we have a Cellach, at once abbot of Iona and Kildare, who died in 865.—(Grub, Eccl. Hist. i. 168.)

Alexander Penrose Forbes, D.C.L. Bishop of Brechin, Kalendars of Scottish Saints, (1872), 334.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Ember Days or Quarter Tense

Today is the Ember Wednesday in Advent. Etymologically speaking, however, the word is another example of the theological superiority of the Irish Gaelic language over the Saxon. In Latin, the term is Quatuor Tempora, the Four Times. French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, as may be expected of Romance Languages, retain this form. However, even German retains this root in description of the four periods of fasting that equate roughly with the four seasons of the year.

In English, however, the term 'Ember' derives from the connection of the two roots ymb (meaning around), and ryne (meaning a circuit or course). From this, it might be thought that there is a confusion with Rogation Days. However, it seems to refer instead to the distribution of the days throughout the year. The potential for confusion with Rogations is the greater in Welsh, however, which speaks of Ember Weeks as Wythnos y cydgorian (the Week of the Processions). Quarter Tense, a more arcane English term, follows the general usage of Christendom.

Irish Gaelic, on the other hand, retains the general reference to the Four Times in referring to Laethanta na gCeithre Thráth or the days of the Four Times.

Guéranger assigns the practice of Quarter Tense to the Prophet Zacheriah, Chapter viii, Verse 19: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Juda, joy, and gladness, and great solemnities: only love ye truth and peace."

The Douay-Rheims version notes for this verse that: "They fasted, on the ninth day of the fourth month, because on that day Nabuchodonosor took Jerusalem, Jer. 52. 6. On the tenth day of the fifth month, because on that day the temple was burnt, Jer. 52. 12. On the third day of the seventh month, for the murder of Godolias, Jer. 41. 2. And on the tenth day of the tenth month, because on that day the Chaldeans began to besiege Jerusalem, 4 Kings 25. 1. All these fasts, if they will be obedient for the future, shall be changed, as is here promised, into joyful solemnities."

The Irish understanding of the four quarters of the year needs no explanation for anyone familiar with the Gaelic calendar.

Some point to specific Celtic origins, linked to the Celtic custom of observing various festivals at three-month intervals: Imbolc, Baeltaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain. The quarterly or seasonal nature of Ember Time is typical of a society living in harmony with its environment and a society that recognises the inherant links between the spiritual and the natural.

Is it going too far to say that traditional Catholicism retained this sense of harmony but that it has been lost since Vatican II? Perhaps it is no coincidence that there has been a rise in interest in paganist practices and language relating the spiritual to the natural since the majority of Catholics have been deprived of traditional Catholic devotions.

A Latin rhyme gives the timing of the four Ember Weeks:

Dant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia
Ut sit in angariâ quarta sequens feria.


An old English rhyme translates it as follows:

Fasting days and Emberings be
Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie.


There has been plenty of discussion on the blogosphere this week about the fact that the calendar rubrics of John XXIII place the September Ember Week after the third Sunday rather than after 14th September or "Holyrood".

Mention of the Irish links to Ember Days would not be complete without some mention of the Irish spirit of ascetisism and fasting. For example, in the Manuscript Materials of Irish History by Professor O'Curry there is reference to Laethanta na gCeithre Thráth in the Rule of St. Carthage, in that part where the Saint speaks of the order of refection and of the refectory, at line 114 he says:

A tredan [three days total fast] every quarter to those
Who fast not every month,
Is required in the great territories,
In which is the Faith of Christ.

Interestingly, it would appear that the Holy See dispensed from the abstinence from flesh meat on Ember Saturdays outside Lent in Ireland in 1912.