Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Our Gaelic Christian Heritage (Part 5)

Among the stirring lines that affirm the high endeavour of the Gaelic Race in the cause of Christ, few can equal for sheer force and colour, some anonymous lines urging fidelity to the True Church against the wiles of heresy. Qui legit intellegat!

Ní trácht ar an Ministir Ghollda,
Ná a chreideamh gan bunús gan bhrí,
Mar 'sé ba bhunchloch dá Theampall,
Magairlí Anraoí an Ríogh!


File gan anim

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Pilgrimage to Duiske Abbey 2018

Along the waters of the mighty River Barrow that forms the backbone of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin - and whose waters have witnessed many of our pilgrimages in the past - we returned again to beautiful Graiguenamanagh and to the ancient and new Duiske Abbey for a Traditional Latin Mass of Our Lady on Saturday. Reports of previous pilgrimages are to be found here and here, here and here. It was also our second pilgrimage in just over a month to one of the few of Ireland's medieval Abby Churches restored to the Worship of God. The other being Holy Cross Abbey, Co. Tipperary.









Tuesday, 5 June 2018

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 in 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 Baltinglass.
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.

Friday, 1 June 2018

Latin Mass Pilgrimage to Tullamore

For the first time, the Catholic Heritage Association will be making a pilgrimage to historic Tullamore, Co. Offaly, on Saturday, 23rd June, with a Traditional Latin Mass celebrated in the Parish Church of the Assumption at 2.30 p.m.


Come and pray!

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Our Gaelic Christian Heritage (Part 4)

As the Penal Laws took hold through the 18th Century, it was State policy to ensure that the resources of a persecuted Catholic People dwindled. In the Lament for Kilcash, the death of Lady Margaret Butler of Kilcash, and with her, a source of benevolent patronage for Catholics.

The central theme is contained in the lines "bhíodh iarlaí ag tarraingt tar toinn ann, is an t-aifreann binn á rá." Nobles made their way o'er the waves thence, and there the sweet Mass was said. The poem is variously attributed.


Caoine Cill Cháis

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?
Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár;
níl trácht ar Chill Cháis ná ar a teaghlach
ní bainfear a cloig go bráth.
An áit úd a gcónaiodh an deighbhean
fuair gradam is meidhir thar mhná,
bhíodh iarlaí ag tarraingt tar toinn ann
is an t-aifreann binn á rá.

Ní chluinim fuiaim lachan ná gé ann,
ná fiolar ag éamh sois cuain,
ná fiú na mbeacha chun saothair
thabharfadh mil agus céir don tslua.
Níl ceol binn milis na n-éan ann
le hamharc an lae a dhul uainn,
ná an chuaichín i mbarra na ngéag ann,
ós í chuirfeadh an saol chun suain.

Tá ceo ag titim ar chraobha ann
ná glanann le gréin ná lá,
tá 'smúid ag titim ón spéir ann
is a cuid uisce g léir ag trá.
Níl coll, níl cuileann, níl caor ann,
ach clocha is maolchlocháin,
páirc an chomhair gan chraobh ann
is d' imigh an géim chun fáin.

Anois mar bharr ar gach míghreanní,
chuaigh prionsa na nGael thar sáil
anonn le hainnir na míne
fuair gradam sa bhFrainc is sa Spáinn.
Anois tá a cuallacht á caoineadh,
gheibbeadh airgead buí agus bán;
's í ná tógladh sillbh na ndaoine,
ach cara na bhfíorbhochtán.

Aicim ar Mhuire is ar Íosa
go dtaga sí arís chughainn slán,
go mbeidh rincí fada ag gabháil timpeall,
ceol veidhlín is tinte cnámh;
go dtógtar an baile seo ár sinsear
Cill Chais bhreá arís go hard,
's go bráth nó go dtiocfaidh
an dílená feictear é arís ar lár.

Or in an English version:

Now what will we do for timber,
With the last of the woods laid low?
There's no talk of Cill Chais or its household
And its bell will be struck no more.
That dwelling where lived the good lady
Most honoured and joyous of women
earls made their way over wave there
And the sweet Mass once was said.

Ducks' voices nor geese do I hear there,
Nor the eagle's cry over the bay,
Nor even the bees at their labour
Bringing honey and wax to us all.
No birdsong there, sweet and delightful,
As we watch the sun go down,
Nor cuckoo on top of the branches
Settling the world to rest.

A mist on the boughs is descending
Neither daylight nor sun can clear.
A stain from the sky is descending
And the waters receding away.
No hazel nor holly nor berry
But boulders and bare stone heaps,
Not a branch in our neighbourly haggard,
and the game all scattered and gone.

Then a climax to all of our misery:
the prince of the Gael is abroad
oversea with that maiden of mildness
who found honour in France and Spain.
Her company now must lament her,
who would give yellow money and white
she who'd never take land from the people
but was friend to the truly poor.

I call upon Mary and Jesus
to send her safe home again:
dances we'll have in long circles
and bone-fires and violin music;
that Cill Chais, the townland of our fathers,
will rise handsome on high once more
and till doom - or the Deluge returns -
we'll see it no more laid low.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Latin Mass Pilgrimage to Duiske Abbey

Once again, the Catholic Heritage Association is organising a Pilgrimage to ancient Duiske Abbey, Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny, on the shores of the beautiful River Barrow.


Traditional Latin Mass at 2 p.m. on Saturday, 16th June.

Come and Pray!

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Pilgrimage to Holy Cross Abbey 2018



To make a pilgrimage to Holy Cross Abbey, Holycross, Co. Tipperary, is to walk the path to Calvary and to walk in the footsteps of almost nine centuries of pilgrims. The Abbey was once home to the monks of the great Cistercian Order.

The Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland (1900) says of it: "This monastic ruin is considered to rank in popular esteem as one of the first, if not the very first, in Ireland. It is situated on the western bank of the Suir about seven miles north of Cashel. It was founded in 1182 by Donald O'Brien, king of Limerick, for the Cistercian monks; but is said to owe its origin and name to the possession of piece of the True Cross, presented in 1110 by Pope Pascal II to Murrough O'Brien, monarch of Ireland... The Abbey is appropriately built in the form of a cross, with nave, chancel and transept, and a lofty, square belfrey at the intersection of the cross. In both transepts are two distinct chapels beautifully groined. It was endowed with special privileges, and the abbot was a peer of parliament with the title of Earl of the Holy Cross."

Further details can be found on PilgrimageMedievalIreland including that: "in 1567 the Lord deputy complaining to the Queen wrote ‘there is no small conflunence of people still resorting to the holy cross’. In 1579 James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald is said to have venerated the relic of the cross at the abbey a few weeks before his death at the hands of the Burkes, while 1583 Dermot O’Hurley archbishop of Cashel made a pilgrimage to the shrine shortly before his capture by the English. The relic of the cross would have attracted people from all classes and in 1586 Camden writes of the ‘famous abbey’ to which the people still come to do reverence to the relic of the Holy Cross’. He goes on to say ‘It is incredible what a concourse of people still throng hither out of devotion. For this nation obstinately adheres to the religion of superstition of their forefathers.’"

Good old Wikipedia adds a poignant detail: "The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland recount that in 1601, Prince Hugh Roe O'Donnell, on his way to the Battle of Kinsale, true to his family arms and Constantinian motto (In Hoc Signo Vinces) and in anticipation of the battle to come at Kinsale, visited and venerated a relic of the True Cross (Holy rood) on the Feast of St. Andrew, on November 30, 1601 at Holy Cross Abbey. At that period it was a rallying point for the defence of religious freedom and for Irish sovereignty. From there he sent an expedition to Ardfert, to win a quick victory and successfully recover the territory of his ally, Fitzmaurice, Lord of Kerry, who had lost it and his 9-year-old son, to Sir Charles Wilmot. It was the last victory before the defeat at Kinsale."

Archiseek has, as ever, some excellent images of the abbey and add that "it became a scheduled national monument in 1880, 'to be preserved and not used as a place of worship'" However, a special Holycross Act was passed by the Irish Parliament, the Oireachtas, to allow the Church to be restored to its intended use and as the old song has it: "is an t-aifreann binn á rá" (and the sweet Mass was said there once more).

Our third pilgrimage in the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly in recent months and following also in the footsteps of 'Ecclesia Dei - Ireland' that had held aloft the banner of the Traditional Latin Mass for so many years, we returned on the 5th May, the traditional time close to the old Feast of the Holy Cross on 3rd May, for the 26th Annual Latin Mass Pilgrimage to Holy Cross Abbey. Faugh a Ballagh!

Thursday, 3 May 2018

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

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

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

80th Grand Master of the Order of Malta


It has been announced from the Grand Magistry of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, known as the Order of Malta, that Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto has been elected 80th Grand Master of the Order today. The newly elected Grand Master will swear his oath before the Pope’s Special Delegate to the Sovereign Order of Malta, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, and the members of the Council Complete of State tomorrow morning in the Church of Santa Maria in Aventino. Long live the Prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Our Gaelic Christian Heritage (Part 3)

The figure of High King Brian Boru stands astride the history of Gaelic Ireland like a colossus. Although not of the Uí Neill dynasty that had ruled Ireland since Niall Noígiallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages) in the 5th Century, Boru showed himself to be the strongest and most fit for the throne. It is a testimony to the cultural stability of Gaelic Ireland that Máel Sechnaill II, who had abdicated the High Kingship in his favour, was also his successor when his line was extinguished at the Battle of Clontarf on Good Friday, 23rd April, 1014.

Perhaps the greatest 'what if' in Irish history is 'what if Brian Boru had survived the Battle of Clontarf'. It is conceivable that Ireland could have taken a great leap forward towards unity or feudalism at a moment when Robert the Pious struggled to maintain his throne, even against his own sons, and when St. Henry II found it difficult to gain recognition for his claim to the Imperial throne. At the time, Spain was struggling for survival against the Moors and Richard, Duke of Normandy, grandfather of William the Bastard, was withstanding a revolt of peasants. An Ireland united culturally and spiritually under the leadership of a powerful and dynamic dynasty would surely have been a very different one from the one seen from Bannow Bay in 1169.

While a good deal of romanticism surrounds our perceptions of Boru and Clontarf - and over-simplification of issues - it should be noted that Gaelic Ireland avoided the fate of England, which received Canute as King the following year. It was another class of Viking, the Normans of Wales, who descended a century later to begin the most sorrowful chapters of Irish history.

The following is a poetical account by William Kennealy of the address of King Brian, holding aloft the Crucifix, to his troops before the Battle of Clontarf:

"Stand ye now for Erin's glory! Stand ye now for Erin's cause!
Long ye've groaned beneath the rigor of the Northmen's savage laws.
What though brothers league against us? What, though myriad be the foe?
Victory will be more honored in the myriads' overthrow.

"Proud Connacians! oft we've wrangled in our petty feuds of yore;
Now we fight against the robber Dane upon our native shore;
May our hearts unite in friendship, as our blood in one red tide,
While we crush their mail-clad legions, and annihilate their pride!

"Brave Eugenians! Erin triumphs in the sight she sees to-day-
Desmond's homesteads all deserted for the muster and the fray!
Cluan's vale and Galtees' summit send their bravest and their best-
May such hearts be theirs forever, for the Freedom of the West!

"Chiefs and Kernes of Dalcassia! Brothers of my past career,
Oft we've trodden on the pirate-flag that flaunts before us here;
You remember Inniscattery, how we bounded on the foe,
As the torrent of the mountain bursts upon the plain below!

"They have razed our proudest castles , spoiled the Temples of the Lord,
Burned to dust the sacred relics, put the Peaceful to the sword,
Desecrated all things holy, as they soon may do again;
If their power to-day we smite not, if to-day we be not men!

"On this day the God-man suffered - look upon the sacred sign;
May we conquer 'neath its shadow, as of old did Constantine!
May the heathen tribe of Odin fade before it like a dream,
And the triumph of this glorious day in our future annuals gleam!

"God of heaven, bless our banner, nerve our sinews for the strife!
Fight we now for all that's holy, for our altars, land and life,
For red vengeance on the spoiler, whom the blazing temples trace,
For the honor of our maidens and the glory of our race!

"Should I fall before the foeman, 'tis the death I seek to-day;
Should ten thousand daggers pierce me, bear my body not away,
Till this day of days be over, till the field is fought and won;
Then the holy Mass be chanted, and the funeral rites be done.

"Men of Erin! men of Erin! grasp the battle-ax: and spear!
Chase these Northern wolves before you like a herd of frightened deer!
Burst their ranks, like bolts from heaven! Down, on the heathen crew,
For the glory of the Crucified, and Erin's glory too!"

Monday, 30 April 2018

Our Gaelic Christian Heritage (Part 2)

Grandson of High King Conn Cétchathach (Conn of the Hundred Battles), Cormac Mac Airt came to the High Kingship about the year AD 116 and is the most glorious of the High Kings of Tara. The works of learning, wisdom and jurisprudence attributed to him, the Psalter of Tara, the Seanchas Mór (at least in original form), and the Teagasc na Ríogh attest to cultural greatness of his reign, apart from the "fruit and fatness" of the land in his time.

Of greatest interest to us is that King Cormac was reputed to have rejected the superstitions of the Druids, refusing to worship the carvings, saying that the carver deserved greater worship still. His reign was brought to an end by a grave disfiguring injury - since such disfigurements excluded the sufferer from exercising Sovereignty among the ancient Irish. He lived for some time thereafter but, his final wish was to be buried, not at the pagan burying-place of Brugh na Bóinne, but at Ross na Ríogh. His wishes were disregarded but Providence intervened to fulfill them. Sir Samuel Ferguson's poem 'The Burial of King Cormac' relates the story thus:

"Crom Cruach and his sub-gods twelve,"
Said Cormac, "are but craven treene:
The axe that made them, haft and 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 ministered on red Moy Slaught)
Word of the words King Cormac said.

They loosed their curse against the king,
They cursed him in his flesh and bones
And daily in their mystic ring
They turned 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 gathered breath to say:

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

"For all the kings that lie in Brugh
Put trust in gods of wood and stone;
And 'twas at Ross that I first 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 reigned a king for forty years;
And shame it were," his captains said,
"He lay not with his royal peers:

"His grandsire, Hundred Battles, 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 Sleithac's side they drew
With horseman and with charioteer,
To cross the fords of Boyne to Brugh."

There came a breath of finer air
That touched the Boyne with ruffling wings,
It stirred 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 swelled and boiled,
And thrice the wond'ring gentile lords
Essay'd to cross, and thrice recoil'd.

Then forth stepped gray-haired warriors four;
They said: "Through angrier floods than these,
On link'd shield 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 stooped to lift;
They heaved him up to neck and chin;
And, pair by pair, with footsteps swift,
Locked arm and shoulder, bore him in.

'Twas brave to see them leave the shore;
To mark the deepening 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 eweight was great, and limbs were stout,
And loyal man put trust in man.

But ere they reached 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,
Gray locks afloat with clutchings 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 bare away the King!"

At morning on the grassy marge
Of Ross-na-ree the corpse was found,
And shepherds at their early charge,
Entombed 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.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Latin Mass Pilgrimage to Bansha 2018





We were blessed to return for a third time to Bansha, Co. Tipperary, to pray at the grave of the mighty Canon Hayes and to visit Athassel Abbey, one of the largest ecclesiastical sites in the Country.  The sun always seems to shine in Bansha!  The welcome is always warm too.

Buildings of Ireland has a fine description of the architecture of the Church of the Annunciation.

Fittingly for the Church of the Annunciation, the Mass was held in the shadow - and offered for the intention - of the Referendum on the Protection of Unborn Life.

Nearby Golden was the birthplace of the outstanding Fr. Matthew, OFMCap, the Apostle of Temperance.  There must be something powerful in the water thereabouts.  Golden is dotted with medieval ruins and is well worth a visit by itself.  However, our target was between Golden and Bansha, the great Abbey or Priory of Athassel.

IrelandinRuins gives a snapshot of a visit there. The abbey was built for the Augustinians by William Fitz-Aldhelm de Burgho in the 12th century. Dedicated to St. Edmund, it was one of Ireland’s most extensive monasteries, covering about 4 acres of land along the banks of the River Suir.






Our Gaelic Christian Heritage (Part 1)

The various Annals of the Gaelic Race attest to the historic devotion of the Irish to Christ. However, if it is an Irish claim worthy of mention is should be an extraordinary one. Such a claim is the claim made for Conor Mac Nessa, King of Ulster about the time of Our Lord and, incidentally, associated with the famous Cattle Raid of Cooley. His death is recounted in the Book of Leinster and referred to in O'Curry's, Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History

King Conor witnessed, it was said, the pathetic fallacy of the Earth shaken and darkened at the death of Our Lord upon Calvary. He understood through the prism of Natural Religion from Bacrach, his Druid, its true significance. At the cost of his own life, struggled to defend the God-Man.

That a certain knowledge of the supernatural order might also be given to mere pagans is a strange idea but not an impossible one. The Oracle at Delphi and even Virgil in his Eclogues, had some intimation of the Incarnation. Teste David cum Sybilla, as the Dies Irae puts it. That Mankind, who had once walked in the Garden with God and who had been promised a Redeemer as they were expelled, might retain some notion of the Truth is not inconceivable.

The poem of T.D. Sullivan recounts the story as follows:

The Death of King Conor Mac Nessa

I.

'Twas a day full of sorrow for Ulster when Conor Mac Nessa went forth
To punish the clansmen of Connaught who dared to take spoil from the North;
For his men brought him back from the battle scarce better than one that was dead,
With the brain-ball of Mesgedra buried two-thirds of its depth in his head.
His royal physician bent o'er him, great Fingen, who often before
Stanched the war-battered bodies of heroes, and built them for battle once more,
And he looked on the wound of the monarch, and heark'd to his low breathed sighs,
And he said, "In the day when that missile is loosed from his forehead, he dies.

II.

"Yet long midst the people who love him King Conor Mac Nessa may reign,
If always the high pulse of passion be kept from his heart and his brain;
And for this I lay down his restrictions:--no more from this day shall his place
Be with armies, in battles, or hostings, or leading the van of the chase;
At night when the banquet is flashing, his measure of wine must be small,
And take heed that the bright eyes of woman be kept from his sight above all;
For if heart-thrilling joyance or anger awhile o'er his being have power,
The ball will start forth from his forehead, and surely he dies in that hour."

III.

Oh! woe for the valiant King Conor, struck down from the summit of life,
While glory unclouded shone round him, and regal enjoyment was rife-
Shut out from his toils and his duties, condemned to ignoble repose,
No longer to friends a true helper, no longer a scourge to his foes!
He, the strong-handed smiter of champions, the piercer of armor and shields,
The foremost in earth-shaking onsets, the last out of blood-sodden fields-
The mildest, the kindest, the gayest, when revels ran high in his hall-
Oh, well might his true-hearted people feel gloomy and sad for his fall!

IV.

The princes, the chieftains, the nobles, who met, to consult at his board,
Whispered low when their talk was of combats, and wielding the spear and the sword:
The bards from their harps feared to waken the full-pealing sweetness of song,
To give homage to valor or beauty, or praise to the wise and the strong;
The flash of no joy-giving story made cheers or gay laughter resound,
Amid silence constrained and unwonted the seldom-filled wine-cup went round;
And, sadder to all who remembered the glories and joys that had been,
The heart-swaying presence of woman not once shed its light on the scene.

V.

He knew it, he felt it, and sorrow sunk daily more deep in his heart;
He wearied of doleful inaction, from all his loved labors apart.
He sat at his door in the sunlight, sore grieving and weeping to see
The life and the motion around him, and nothing so stricken as he.
Above him the eagle went wheeling, before him the deer galloped by,
And the quick-legged rabbits went skipping from green glades and burrows a-nigh,
The song-birds sang out from the copses, the bees passed on musical wing,
And all things were happy and busy, save Conor Mac Nessa the king!

VI.

So years had passed over, when, sitting mid silence like that of the tomb,
A terror crept through him as sudden the noon-light was blackened with gloom.
One red flare of lighting blazed brightly, illuming the landscape around,
One thunder-peal roared through the mountains, and rumbled and crashed under ground;
He heard the rocks bursting asunder, the trees tearing up by the roots,
And loud through the horrid confusion the howling of terrified brutes.
From the halls of his tottering palace came screamings of terror and pain,
And he saw crowding thickly around him the ghosts of the foes he had slain!

VII.

And as soon as the sudden commotion that shuddered through nature had ceased,
The king sent for Barach, his Druid, and said: "Tell me truly, O priest,
What magical arts have created this scene of wild horror and dread?
What has blotted the blue sky above us, and shaken the earth that we tread?
Are the gods that we worship offended? what crime or what wrong has been done?
Has the fault been committed in Erin, and how may their favor be won?
What rites may avail to appease them? what gifts on their altars should smoke?
Only say, and the offering demanded we lay by your consecrate oak."

VIII.

"O king," said the white-bearded Druid, "the truth unto me has been shown,
There lives but one God, the Eternal; far up in high Heaven is His throne.
He looked upon men with compassion, and sent from His kingdom of light
His Son, in the shape of a mortal, to teach them and guide them aright.
Near the time of your birth, O King Conor, the Savior of mankind was born,
And since then in the kingdoms far eastward He taught, toiled, and prayed, till this morn,
When wicked men seized Him, fast bound Him with nails to a cross, lanced His side,
And that moment of gloom and confusion was earth's cry of dread when He died.

IX.

"O king, He was gracious and gentle, His heart was all pity and love,
And for men He was ever beseeching the grace of His Father above;
He helped them, He healed them, He blessed them, He labored that all might attain
To the true God's high kingdom of glory, where never comes sorrow or pain;
But they rose in their pride and their folly, their hearts filled with merciless rage,
That only the sight of His life-blood fast poured from His heart could assuage:
Yet while on the cross-beams uplifted, His body racked, tortured, and riven,
He prayed--not for justice or vengeance, but asked that His foes be forgiven."

X.

With a bound from his seat rose King Conor, the red flush of rage on his face,
Fast he ran through the hall for his weapons, and snatching his sword from its place,
He rushed to the woods, striking wildly at boughs that dropped down with each blow,
And he cried: "Were I midst the vile rabble, I'd cleave them to earth even so!
With the strokes of a high king of Erinn, the whirls of my keen-tempered sword,
I would save from their horrible fury that mild and that merciful Lord.
"His frame shook and heaved with emotion; the brain-ball leaped forth from his head,
And commending his soul to that Savior, King Conor Mac Nessa fell dead.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Latin Mass Pilgrimage to Bansha, Co. Tipperary


Traditional Latin Mass in the Church of the Annunciation, Bansha, Co. Tipperary, at 3 p.m. on Saturday, 21st April, 2018.  Followed by prayers at the grave of Canon Hayes and a visit to Athassel Abbey and Golden, birthplace of Fr. Matthew, OFMCap, the Apostle of Temperance.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Traditional Easter Triduum


The Easter Ceremonies in the Gregorian Rite:

Holy Thursday

4 p.m. - Holy Mass: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath
6 p.m. - Holy Mass: Sacred Heart Church, The Crescent, Limerick City
6 p.m. - Holy Mass: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
7 p.m. - Holy Mass: St. Kevin's Church, Harrington Street, Dublin 8.
7.30 p.m. - Tenebrae: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath

Good Friday

12 noon - Stations of the Cross: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
3 p.m. - Liturgy of the Passion: Sacred Heart Church, The Crescent, Limerick City
3 p.m. - Liturgy of the Passion: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath
5 p.m. - Liturgy of the Passion: St. Kevin's Church, Harrington Street, Dublin 8.
6 p.m. - Liturgy of the Passion: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
7 p.m. - Stations of the Cross: St. Kevin's Church, Harrington Street, Dublin 8.
7.30 p.m. - Tenebrae: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath

Holy Saturday

12.30 p.m. - Tenebrae: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
8 p.m. - Easter Vigil: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath
8.30 p.m. - Easter Vigil: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
9 p.m. - Easter Vigil: Sacred Heart Church, The Crescent, Limerick City
9 p.m. - Easter Vigil: St. Kevin's Church, Harrington Street, Dublin 8.

Easter Sunday

9 a.m. - Holy Mass: St. Mary's Church, Ballyhea, Co. Cork
9 a.m. - Holy Mass: St. Mary's Church, Chapel Street, Newry, Co. Down
10 a.m. - Holy Mass: St. Patrick's Church, Drumkeen, Co. Donegal
10 a.m. - Holy Mass: Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath
10.30 a.m. - Holy Mass: Sacred Heart Church, The Crescent, Limerick City
10.30 a.m. - Holy Mass: St. Kevin's Church, Harrington Street, Dublin 8.
12 noon - Holy Mass: Ss. Peter and Paul's Church, Paul Street, Cork City
1.30 p.m. - Holy Mass: Holy Cross Church (O.P.), Tralee, Co. Kerry
2 p.m. - Holy Mass: St. Columba's Church, Longtower, Derry City
4 p.m. - Holy Mass: St. Therese's Church, Somerton Road, Belfast City
5 p.m. - Holy Mass: St. Patrick's Church, College Road, Kilkenny City
5.30 p.m. - Holy Mass: Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Our Lady's Shrine, Knock, Co. Mayo

Beannachtaí na Cásca oraibh go léir!
A happy and holy Easter to one and all!

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Pilgrimage to Honour Saint Brigid of Kildare

For over a decade we have been making an annual pilgrimage to the Parish Church of Saint Brigid of Kildare, Kildare Town. Today we returned to do honour to the Patroness of Ireland.

Bishop Comerford in his Collections Relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin, Vol. 2 (1886) under the Parish of Kildare says:

"Ancient Kildare is believed to have stood a little to the west of the present town. From a passage in the Book of Leinster, quoted by O’Curry, (Lectures, p. 487,) it appears that the place was previously named Drumcree, (Druimcriadh, ie. “the Ridge of Clay.”) It received its present appellation “from a goodly, high oak,” under the shadow of which St. Brigid constructed her cell. “When the most glorious virgin, Brigid, returned to her own country,” writes her Biographer, Cogitosus, Bishop of Kildare, in the 10th century, “she was received with great honour and with the great joy of the whole Province, and there a cell was assigned unto her in which this Saint of God led a wonderful life. There she erected a monastery of many virgins, and there, in honour of St. Brigid, a very great city afterwards sprung up which is at this day the Metropolis of the Lagenians. That cell is called in the Scotic, Cill-dara, which sounds in Latin, Cella Quercus, i.e. the cell of the oak. For there was a very high oak tree there which St. Brigid loved much and blessed; of which the trunk still (circa A.D. 980,) remains. No one dares to cut it with a weapon; but he who can break off any part of it with his hands, deems it a great advantage, hoping for the aid of God by means of it; because through the benediction of St. Brigid, many miracles have been performed by that wood. The same name which this cell bore, the city also is named.” (Vita IV. St. Brigidoe, lib. II. c. 3, Tr. Thaum.) St. Brigid established herself at Kildare some time about the year 470, to which period, therefore, the town can trace its foundation.

St. Brigid was born at Faughart, now a village in the Diocese of Armagh, and County of Louth, probably in the year 453. Her father, Dubhtach, and her mother, Brocessa or Brotseach, were both distinguished for their noble descent and their Christian virtues, “Sancta itaque Brigida, quam Deus praescivit ad suam imaginem et praedestinavit, a Christianis, nobilibusque parentibus genita.” (Cogitosus.) The same is repeated in the Prologue to the Vita VI., or metrical Life of the Saint, by Cilien of Iniskeltra. (Tr. Thaum.)

“Dubhtacus ejus erat genitor cognomine dictus,
Clarus homo meritis, clarus et a proavis;
Nobilis atque humilis, mitis, pietate repletus;
Nobilior propria conjuge, prole pia.”

Dubhtach was descended of Eochad, brother of the celebrated Con of the Hundred Battles; and Brotseach was of the noble race of Dal Conchobhair or O’Conor. The parents of the Saint belonged to the district of Leinster; whether her being born at Fauchart was owing to their having a residence there also, or to their having been on a visit there at the time, cannot now be determined. Her biographer, Cogitosus, tells us that she received a good education: - “A sua pueritia bonarum literarum studiis inolevit;” and even in her childhood that extraordinary charity towards the poor, which so distinguished her in after life, manifested itself. Having grown up, she declined various offers of marriage, declaring her purpose of serving God in the Religious Life. In fulfilment of this resolution she had recourse to a holy Bishop named Maccaille, who had a Church at Cruachan-Bri-Eile, in Ifalgia, now the Hill of Croghan, where the site of his Church is still observable, and where his feast was celebrated on the 25th of April. The Bishop being satisfied as to her holy dispositions, received her to Religious Profession, by clothing her with a white mantle and placing a veil of the same colour on her head. Such was the dress of the early Irish nuns, and so it continued for some centuries after the time of St. Brigid :– “Ille, coeleste intuens desiderium, et pudicitiam, et tantam castitatis amorem in tali virgine, pallium album et vestem candidam super ipsius venerabile caput imposuit.” (Cogitosus.) The Profession of the Saint took place about the years 467 or 469. We are not here concerned about the first Communities founded by St. Brigid; the fame of her holiness having spread abroad, the people of her native place sent to invite her to found a Convent amongst them. In compliance with this request, she established herself at Kildare sometime about the year 470. Her first house there was a mere cell; after some time however, the number of those who flocked thither to serve God under her guidance became so great that she had to apply herself to the construction of a monastery of large proportions. This took place, according to Ware, in 480, but other authorities place the date somewhat later. For the details of the wonderful life of this great Servant of God the reader is referred to the Lives of the Irish Saints, by the Rev. J. O’Hanlon, M.R.I.A. The year in which St. Brigid died is uncertain; without entering into the merits of the disputed point, it will be sufficient to state that the weight of authority appears to favour the accuracy of the entry in the Annals of Ulster which assigns it to the year 523, in the 70th year of her age. “A.D. 523, Quies S. Brigidae, an. lxx aetatis suae.” The Annals of Donegal, at Feb. 1st, after tracing her illustrious descent, say, “It was Ultan of Ard-Breccain that collected the (account of the) virtues and miracles of Brigid together, and he commanded his disciple, Brogan to put them into poetry.” The Poem of St. Brogan-Cloen in praise of St. Brigid, here referred to, may be seen—both the original Irish and a Latin translation—in the I. E. Record for February, 1868. It was composed about the year 650, partly in the Monastery of St. Moedhoc, at Clonmore, in the County of Carlow. The Annals of Donegal, still treating of St. Brigid, say of her: –“It was this Brigid that did not take her mind or her attention from the Lord for the space of one hour at any time, but was constantly mentioning Him, and ever constantly thinking of Him, as is evident in her own Life, and also in the Life of St. Brenainn, Bishop of Cluainfearta. She was very hospitable and very charitable to guests and to needy people. She was humble, and attended to the herding of sheep and early rising, as her Life proves, and as Cuimin of Coindaire states in the Poem whose beginning is:– ‘Patrick of the fort of Macha loved,’ &c. Thus he says:–

‘The Blessed Virgin loved
Constant piety, which was not prescribed;
Sheep-herding and early rising,
Hospitality towards men of virtues.’

“She spent indeed 74 years diligently serving the Lord, per¬forming signs and miracles, curing every disease, and sickness in general. The Life of Ciaran of Cluain states, c. 47, that the Order of Brigid was (one) of the eight Orders that were in Erin.” February was called in Irish, “the month of Brigid’s festival;” and Irish writers style her the Mary of Erin, and, on account of her many virtues, assign to her, after the Mother of God, the second place amongst the virgin Saints in heaven. St. Aengus in the Feilire, thus marked her feast:-

“The Calends of February are magnified,
By a galaxy of martyrs of great valour;
Brigid the spotless, of loudest fame,
Chaste head of the nuns of Erin.”

The old Brehon laws prescribe special devotion to St. Brigid, and tribute to her Convent as duties of the Kings of Leinster. Through respect for the Saint, the town and suburbs of Kildare possessed the privilege of Sanctuary:—“Maxima haec civitas et Metropolitana est; in cujus suburbanis, quae sancta certo limite designavit Brigida, nullus carnalis adversarius nec concensus timetur hostium.” (Trias Thaum. 534.) St. Tighernach, Abbot of Clones, and Bishop of Cloghar in succession to St. Maccarten, one of the most illustrious of the Saints of Erin, was baptized at Kildare by St. Conlaeth, St. Brigid acting as Sponsor. A gloss in the Leabhar Breac on the entry in the Feilire of Aengus at the 4th of April, the feast-day of this Saint, quaintly records this event as follows:—“Coirpre, son of Fergus of Leinster, i.e. of Leix, was Tighernach’s father. Or he is of Ui-Bairrchi. Now Coirpre bore him under cover to Kildare. He came into the guest-house. Brigid beheld a watch of angels over the head of the house, and she asked who was there. “One young man is there,” quoth the servant. “Look thou still,” quoth Brigid. Then he looked. “There is, in sooth,” quoth he, “a little babe in the young man’s bosom.” “Good is the babe,” quoth Brigid. Brigid comes into the guest-house, and baptizes the child, and Brigid holds him at his baptism."

He continues:

"Beside the town of Kildare there is a large pond or lough named Loughminane, the formation of which is thus accounted for in a Gloss on the Feilire AEnguis in the Leabhar Breac:- 'Eighteen Bishops came to Brigid from Hui-Brinin Chualand and from Telach-nam-espoc to Loch Lemnachta, beside Kildare on the north. So Brigid asked her cook, to wit, of Blathnait, whether she had food, et dixit illa non. And Brigid had shame, so the angel said that the cows should be milked iterum. And Brigid milked them, and they filled the tubs, and they would have filled all the vessels of Leinster; and the milk came over the vessels and made a lough thereof. Inde Loch Lemnachta dicitur.'"

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Cloncurry Friary (Walsh)

The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter xlviii, at p. 480-1:

Cloncurry in the barony of Bteath and Onghterany John Roche founded a Carmelite friary in this place AD 1347 under the invocation of the Virgin Mary having obtained the royal license to do so January 18th thirty fifth of Henry VIII this abbey with ten acres of land in Cloncurry was granted forever in capite to William Dickson at the annual rent of 8d Irish money and again in the 8th of queen Elizabeth this friary with one messuage one cottage twenty eight acres of arable land and seven of pasture adjoining the same was granted to Richard Hayne for the term of twenty one years at the yearly rent of 16s In 1618 Andrew Forrester died seized of this monastery with a church hall and dormitory ten acres of land thereunto belonging all of which were held of the king in capite by military service namely the twentieth part of a knight's fee