Sidebilder
PDF

ford, as would seem most convenient for one shipping from Menevia, he left his boat in the north among the Dal-Riadans, where he placed one of his disciples, Colman, at Kil-roiad, now probably Kil-root in Antrim. The Dal-Riadan King, Fintan Finn, had recently been engaged in war against the men of Connaught, who had captured his castle and three sons. On the arrival of Ailbe in his land the King at once sought him and entreated him to accompany his host to battle and show his power by cursing the enemy, after the usual Druidic method. Ailbe consented, and success attended the King, who nearly exterminated the men of Connaught,1 and recovered his wife and sons.

Ailbe now visited S. Brigid at Kildare (d. 525), and was well received by her. Thence he went south to Munster, where he sought Aengus Mac Nadfraich, the king, at Cashel. Here it was that he is reported to have met S. Patrick, and that the altercation took place between Patrick on one side and SS. Ibar, Ailbe and Ciaran on the other, who were unwilling to recognise his supremacy over all Ireland. In the end some agreement was come to, and it was settled that Ailbe should be bishop over Munster, with his seat at Imlach Jubhair or Emly. Archbishop Ussher supposes that this meeting took place in 449, but it is more than doubtful if it ever took place. The whole story of the controversy and the settlement seems to have been an invention foisted into the Life, in connexion with the claims made by the bishops of southern Ireland to obtain archiepiscopal jurisdiction for Cashel, in opposition to Armagh.2

Ailbe appears to have enjoyed the favour of Aengus Mac Nadfraich to such an extent, that when Endeus desired to settle in Aran, he sought Ailbe's intercession with the King to grant the island to him. Aengus was, however, loath to make the grant till he had seen the island ; but when he had done so, and perceived what a bare inhospitable rock it was, he consented, and made over Aran to Endeus. As Aengus fell in the battle of Ochla in 489, this must have occurred somewhere about 480. The intercession of Ailbe is the more noticeable, because Enda was brother-in-law to Aengus, whose first wife, Darerca, was Ailbe's sister. Enda died very aged about 540. Another who sought a site for a monastery from Ailbe was Sincheall, son of Cennfionnan, of a renowned Leinster family. Ailbe had formed a settlement at Cluain-Damh on the banks of the Liffey, and this he abandoned to Sincheall, who however later moved to Cill-achadhdroma-fota, now Killeigh in King's County. Sincheall died in 548, according to Duald Mac Firbis, the Annals of the Four Masters, and those of Ulster, so that here again we have a means of fixing approximately the period at which Ailbe lived.

1 "Gentes Connactorum delevit." Cod. Sal., col. 247. 2 Haddan and Stubbs, ii, p. 290.

Ciannan, bishop of Duleek, is named as a disciple of Ailbe, and he, according to the Ulster Annals, those of Inisfallen, and those of the Four Masters, died in 489. Colgan however doubts if his death can have taken place at so early a date.1

Other disciples were S. Colman of Dromore and S. Nessan of Mungret. The date of Colman's death is not known, but from his Acts it is apparent that he was contemporary with Diarmid Cearbhal, king of Ireland, who died in 538. Nessan died in 551, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, but in 561 according to those of Clonmacnoise.

Ailbe baptised that extraordinary Saint, Findchua of Bri-gobann, and received as fee for so doing seven golden pennies,2 and this took place while Eochaid was king of Connaught, and Aengus Mac Nadfraich was king of Munster, an anachronism, as Eochaid was king about 550, sixty years after the death of Aengus.

On one occasion Ailbe visited a religious community of women at Accadh-Ceroth, and found them in sore trouble. They had been given a boy to foster named Cummine, son of Echelach. But he did not do justice to his bringing up. He had associated with himself some wild bloods, and had taken avow on him called dibherc,3 which would appear to have been like that of the Thugs, to murder right and left.4 At the instigation of the pious virgins, Ailbe sought the young man out, and induced him to abandon the life to which he had vowed himself.

Another disciple of Ailbe was Aengus Maccridh of Mochta, who lived through the Yellow Plague of 547-50.

He was consulted by S. Scethe 5 of Ardskeagh, in the county of Cork. The story was told that she was short of oxen for ploughing, whereupon Ailbe sent her a pair of stags, and these served her for many years. At last, wearied with bearing the yoke, they went of their own accord to Emly to beg the Saint to release them. A more probable story is one that she begged of him a copyist to transcribe for her the Four Gospels, and with this request he cheerfully com1 Trias Thaum., p. 217.

2 Book of Lismore, Oxford, 1890, p. 232.

* Dibhirceach, diligent, violent.

4 "Votum pessimum vovit, scilicet dibherc . . . exivit Cummine cum suis sociis, et jugulaverunt homines." Cod. Sal., col. 251.

5 In the Vitae SS. Hib., Cod. Sal., her name is given as Squiatha. She is commemorated on January I.

plied. He had also the visitation of another house of pious women; the names of two of these, Bithe and Barrach, are given.

Ailbe was dissatisfied with the liturgy in use, and sent two disciples, one, Lugaid, was probably the son of Aengus Mac Nadfraich, to Rome to obtain a better copy. He also drew up a monastic Rule. He frequently visited Ossory, and received a grant of lands from Scanlan Mor, its king, who died in 604, but is held to have begun his reign in 574. If this be true, it throws the date of Ailbe very late in the sixth century, and this is for other reasons impossible to allow. We are informed that, weary with the duties of his office, Ailbe meditated flight to the Isle of Thule. This is Iceland, and it is certain that Irish hermits did occupy the Westmann Islands off the south coast before the arrival of the Norse colonists in 870, as Irish bells and other ecclesiastical relics were discovered there by the new settlers.1 When, however, Aengus Mac Nadfraich heard of Ailbe's intention, he gave orders that all the harbours should be watched to prevent the departure of the bishop.

The seat of Ailbe's bishopric and principal monastery was Emly, beside a lake that at one time covered two hundred acres, but has now been drained away, and the bottom turned into pasture. The land around is fertile, and the place is in the county Tipperary, near the River Glason. Till Cashel rose into importance it was of some consideration. Now it has sunk to a village. The Acta Sancti Ailbei end:—" No one could well relate the humility and the meekness of S. Ailbe, his charity and pitifulness, his patience and long-suffering, his fastings and abstinence, his assiduous prayer and nightly vigils. He fulfilled all the commandments of Christ. On account of these good works S. Ailbe passed away to join in choirs of the angels singing their sweet songs, even to Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be honour and glory through the ages. Amen." 2

The Annals of Ulster and Inisfallen give 526 (527) as the date of Ailbe's death, but the former repeats the entry under the years 533 and 541. The latter is the date given by the Four Masters. The Chronicon Scottorum has the Rest of Ailbe of Imlech Ibhair at the date 531. The date 541 is that of the death of another Ailbe, of Sencua.

S. Declan, the Apostle of the Nan-Decies, is represented as an intimate friend of SS. Ailbe and Ibar. Yet Declan must have been junior, for he made a close compact of friendship with S. David, who had been baptised by Ailbe. Declan was half-brother to Colman and Eochaid, who were sons of his mother by Aengus Mac Nadfraich.1 Consequently there are many indications pointing to the apostolic labours of Ailbe having taken place during the close of the fifth century and the beginning of the sixth; and it is significant that there is in his Life no mention of his having had any dealings with succeeding kings of Munster, though this may be in part accounted for by the humiliation of Munster after the battle of Killosnad, or Kellistown, in 489. When the Irish Annals are so uncertain as to the actual date of Ailbe's death, it is in vain to attempt to give it with any precision. In the Felire of Oengus, Ailbe is commemorated on September 12. On the same day in the Martyrology of Tallagh, and the Martyrology of Donegal; and on that day O'Gorman enters:—" To the starry heavens, whither we shall go, (belongs) Ailbe of Imlech Ibair."

1 Landnama-bok in Islendinga-Sogur, Copenhagen, 1842, i, pp. 23-4. * Vitae SS. Hib., Cod. Sal., col. 260.

Roscarrock in his Calendar gives Ailbe on September 12.

In the second edition of Wilson's English Martyrology on February 27 is a "S. Eloius, confessor and bishop of Menevia, in Pembroke, Wales." Wilson, however, was very arbitrary in his attribution of days. Whytford is more correct; in his Martiloge (1526) he has on September 12, among the Additions, " In yrelond ye feest of saynt Abbey a bysshop and confessor of synguler prfectyon and many myracles." Among the "Sayings of the Wise," printed in the Iolo MSS., occurs the following:—

Hast thou heard the saying of Elfyw,
A very wise man without his equal?
"Let every sort go to where it belongs." 2
(Eled rhyw ar barth pa yw.)

A metrical Rule of S. Ailbe instructing Eoghain, son of Saran, of Cluain-Caolain, is in the Royal Irish Academy Library, Dublin, MS. 23, N. 11, p. 186. Ailbe is invoked in the Stowe Missal, published by Warren.3

[ocr errors]

S. ALAN, Confessor

Alan Fyrgan, son of Emyr Llydaw, was obliged, with his father, to fly Armorica. The portion of Brittany from which this family came was, as we learn from the Life of S. Samson, Broweroc, or the County of Vannes, which was occupied by the British from an early period. For some reason unknown to us, but probably a family quarrel, Emyr Llydaw and all his sons fled to Wales. Alan, it has been supposed, entered the College of S. Illtyd. He had three sons, Lleuddad, Llonio Lawhir and Llyfab, who are also said to have been members of Illtyd's College. Rees1 seems to have been the first to incorporate him among the Welsh Saints, as his name never occurs so much as once in any of the earlier saintly genealogies, nor, so far as we have noticed, in any of the later ones. He only occurs therein in the pedigree given his three sons. His epithet Fyrgan appears under a variety of corrupt forms in the late copies.

1 Eochaid succeeded his father and died 523. Annals of the Four Masters. 2 Iolo MSS., p. 258. There is an old Welsh tune called "Cor Elfyw." 3 The Liturgy of the Celtic Church, Oxford, 1881, pp. 238, 240.

In the only notice that occurs of him in Welsh literature he assumes a totally different role from that of a monk. In the "Triads of Arthur and his Warriors" we are told that one of the "Three Disloyal Hosts (Aniweir Teulu) of the Isle of Britain " was "the Host of Alan Fyrgan, which turned back from its lord on the road at night, leaving him and his servants at Camlan, and there he was slain"2 (in 537).

An Alan is venerated in the diocese of Quimper as having been bishop there, but he appears in no genuine list of the Bishops. An Allorus appears as third bishop of Quimper in the list in the Quimper Cartulary; Corentine was the first, then came Goennoc, and then S. Allorus.3

No Allan occurs in this catalogue, and S. Allan of Quimper is doubtless this Allor. Corentine signed the decrees of the Council of Angers in 453, so that the date of Allor would be about 500.

The legend of S. Alan is appropriated from that of S. Elan de Lavaur, near Toulouse, which is itself a fraudulent composition. The Church of Lavaur possessed the relics of a petty local Saint, named Elan, of whom no record remained, and some one connected with the church deliberately adapted and altered the genuine Life of S. Amandus of Maestricht to suit the Gascon saint; he did more, he manipulated, as well, certain records of donations to the church of Maestricht, to serve the purpose of the clergy of Lavaur, to enable them to lay claim to some estates in their own neighbourhood, coveted by them. This false life was then further appropriated by the Church of Quimper for its Saint, Alain, of whom nothing was known.

1 Essay on the Welsh Saints, p. 221.

2 For the Triads see Skene, Four Ancient Books of Wales, ii, pp. 456-64, where they are printed from Peniarth MS. 45, of the late thirteenth century. 3 Bulletin de la Commission diocfsain de Quimper, 1901, p. 33.

« ForrigeFortsett »