« ForrigeFortsett »
dutifully following the see of Rome, reckoned their Easter day according to the table which was published by Victorinus in the year 457, and which brought the Roman usage into correspondence with the usage of Alexandria. The difference, much and earnestly insisted upon in the letters of Columbanus, turned chiefly on two points: (1) The Irish churchmen insisted that in no case could it be right to celebrate Easter before the vernal equinox, which determined the first month of the Jewish calendar; (2) they maintained that since the Passover had been ordained to fall on the night of the full moon, in no case could it be right to celebrate Easter on any day when the moon was more than three weeks old. In other words, they allowed the great festival to range only between the 14th and the 20th day of the lunar month, while the Latin Church, for the sake of harmony with the Alexandrian, allowed it to range from the 15th to the 22nd. In theory it would probably be admitted that the Irishmen were nearer to the primitive idea of a Christian festival based on the Jewish Passover; but in practice—to say nothing of the unreasonableness of perpetuating discord on a point of such infinitely small importance—by harping as they did continally on the words ' the 14th day', they gave their opponents the opportunity of fastening upon them the name of Quarto-deciman, and thereby bringing them under the anathema pronounced by the Xicene Council on an entirely different form of dissent." 62
As has been frequently pointed out, in the earliest monasteries the abbot had under him one or more bishops, subject to his jurisdiction. This condition of affairs did not last very long. The kings and chiefs had been accustomed to have their Druids at their sides, to furnish them with charms against sudden death and against sickness, and to bless their undertakings and curse their enemies. The abbot could not be with the chief or king; as head of a tribe he had to rule a territory, and attend to the thousand obligations that belonged to his position. Accordingly, a bishop was sent to the chieftain to do the work of medicine-man for him; this was the beginning of a change in the system, approximating it to that of the Church in the Empire. The bishop about the person of the chief eclipsed the abbot, and became the chief man in ecclesiastical matters belonging to the tribe. The Lebar Brecc describes the duties of a bishop: "A bishop for every chief tribe—for ordaining ecclesiastics and for consecrating churches, for spiritual direction to princes and superiors and ordained persons, for hallowing and blessing their children after baptism (i.e.
•* Italy and Iter Invaders Oxford, 1895, vi, pp. 115-6.
confirming), for directing the labours of every church, and for leading boys and girls to cultivate reading and piety." And the same authority gives as the duties of every priest in a small church: "Of him is required baptism and communion, that is the Sacrifice, and sung intercession for the living and the dead, the offering to be made every Sunday, and every chief solemnity, and every chief festival. Every canonical hour is to be observed, and the singing of the whole Psalter daily, unless teaching and spiritual direction hinder him." 83
We will now pass to a consideration of what is of importance relative to the saints of Cornwall. Here a very remarkable condition of affairs is found to exist. The whole of Penwith, or the Land's End District, and the Lizard promontory as well, seem to have been laid hold of, and its churches founded by Irish saints.
Then again, in all the north-east and east of Cornwall, even down to the sea at Looe, are found saints of the Brychan family of Brecknock. Unhappily, we have no early history of Cornwall that can account for this. Only a glimmer of light comes to us through such few Lives, or notices of Lives, as remain.
But if the historians hold their peace, the stones cry out, and testify to a very extensive colonisation by Irish.
We have scanty notices that Caradog Freichfras, who was prince of Gelliwig, the territory about Callington, about 480 conquered Brecknockshire. He was himself related to the royal family of Brychan through his mother. Whether he entered into any compact with the ecclesiastics of that family and bade them occupy East and North-east Cornwall, on condition that they vacated all their holdings in Brecknock, or whether he drove them out, and they fled to Cornwall to the Irish colonists there, we do not know; but certain it is that the Brychan family is represented very fully there. The Brychan family was Irish, and that there were Irish inhabiting the region to which they moved we shall proceed to show. We know from an entry in Cormac's Irish Glossary that in the time of Crimthan the Great the Irish held Map Lethain in the lands of the Cornish Britons,64 i.e., 366-378.
The lapidary inscriptions give us Irish names, and bear also the Ogam script. The Maccodechet stone at Tavistock shows that a portion of the Deceti sept from Kerry was settled there. We find their names on monuments both in the west of Ireland and in Anglesey. Another stone is that of Dobunnus, son of Enobar. Dobunnus meets us again several times in Kerry. The Cumregnus stone at Southill has the Goidelic Manci on it, and one of the Lewannic stones the no less Irish ingen; the other bears the name of Ulcagnus, the Irish Olcan, that we find in Kerry as Olacon.85 The Endellion stone to Breocan also has its relatives in Kerry and also in Pembrokeshire. It can hardly be by accident that Cormac represents Map or Mac Lethain as a fortress of the Irish in Cornwall. This shows that it had been erected by the Hy Liathain, who occupied a tract of country in Munster close to Kerry. And if we suppose that the Brychan family derived from the Hy Brachain in Thomond, then their original seat was separated from Kerry by the estuary of the Shannon only. But it is not only the family of Brychan that is represented in North-east Cornwall; the closely related family of Gwent was also there. To this belonged Petroc of Padstow. Cadoc has also left his mark there, so has Glywys, and possibly Gwynllyw at Poughill. The Stowford stone inscribed to Gungleus looks as though it marked the resting-place of one of the same family. On account of the way in which the Saxons and Normans supplanted the Celtic saints with fresh dedications from the Roman Martyrology in Devon, we are not able to determine to what an extent North Devon was settled with ecclesiastical foundations from Brycheiniog and Gwent. But Brynach, son-in-law of Brychan, is found at Braunton, Nectan, a reputed son, at Hartland and Wellcombe. In Cornwall it is otherwise. We find them extending from Padstow Harbour to the Tamar, and south as far as to the river Fal.
'* Tripartite Life, i, p. clxxxiii.
** Three Irish Glossaries, by W. Stokes, Lond., 1862, p. xlviii.
Let us now turn to the west of Cornwall, to Penwith, or the Land's End district, and to Meneage, that of the Lizard. Here the whole district is ecclesiastically Irish. But, indeed, the invasion extends further east, as far as to Newquay, for we have near that S. Piran and S. Carannog, which latter, though not actually Irish by birth, laboured long in the Emerald Isle, and in the south it seems to have stretched with breaks to Grampound.
Happily we have some account of the invasion that took place there. This is in the Life of S. Fingar, written by a monk named Anselm, probably of S. Michael's Mount. There were in existence other records, to which Leland refers, and which he had seen, and from which he made all too scanty extracts, but these are lost for ever.
From such sources we learn that in the reign of Tewdrig, King of Cornwall, who had palaces or duns at Reyvier on the Hayle river, and at Goodern near Truro, and, if we may judge by the place-name,
** Studies in Irish Epigraphy, by R. A. S. Macalister, London, 1897.
a court at Listewder in S. Kevern, a fleet of Irish arrived in Hayle Harbour, and that he fell upon them when they landed and killed a number of them. Some took refuge on Tregonning Hill, and entrenched and maintained themselves there. In the end the Irish must have got the upper hand, for they meted out the whole of the present deaneries of Penwith, Kerrier and Carnmarth between them, and extended their foundations into Powder as well. Whereupon they elevated those of their party who had been killed byTewdrig to the position of martyrs. Had the Irish been expelled, Fingar would not have received a cult, but have been regarded as a free-booter who had met with his deserts.
The occasion of this migration is matter of conjecture, but this seems to best explain it.
The Hy Bairrche, descendants of Daire Bairrche, second son of Cathair Mor, King of Leinster and of all Ireland, had occupied the country between the Slaney and the Barrow, whilst the Hy Cinnselach, who held what is now the county of Wexford, had been growing in numbers and power, and had become straitened between the Slaney and the sea.
Some time about the middle of the fifth century, Crimthan, King of the Hy Cinnselach, invaded the Hy Bairrche territory and expelled the Hy Bairrche, although Mac Daire. the King, was his own son-in-law. There was no alternative; as chieftain, he must allot habitations and land to the men of his tribe, and that could only be done by dispossessing a neighbour. It was an obligation not to be evaded. The expelled family sought and obtained assistance, and many and furious battles were waged between them. In 480 the Hy Bairrche defeated the Hy Cinnselach at Kilosnadh. and in 485. in another battle, Eochaidh of the Hy Bairrche slew Crimthan, his own grandfather. Again ensued battles at Graine in 485, 489, and 492, in which latter Finchadh, King of the Hy Cinnselach, was slain The Kings of Munster had become involved in the contest. In 489 in a desperate fight at Kelliston in Carlow, Aengus Mac Nadfraich, King of Munster, fell fighting against the Hy Bairrche. On the death of Eochaidh, his son Diarmidh succeeded, but the strife with the Cinnselach was chronic.
Now it is precisely about this period of internecine war and of mutual expulsion of defeated rivals, 490-510, that the great influx of colonists from Leinster to West Cornwall took place, and it was from the district of the Hy Bairrche and of the Hy Cinnselach. With the limited means at our disposal, we are unable to fix the date closely, but we know that colonists arrived when Tewdrig was King in Cornwall, and his date can be approximately determined from the Life of S. Petroc. We have further a certain number of Irish Lives of the Saints of Leinster that help to fix the period. When looked into, it will be seen that the saints who settled in West Cornwall came almost entirely from Wexford and Waterford and Ossory. The reason of their coming from Ossory we will now consider. This emigration was also apparently due to political causes.
The kings of Munster had claimed from Ossory what was called the "Eric of Edersceol" since the first century. This consisted in an annual payment of three hundred cows, as many horses, the same number of swords with gold-inlaid hilts, and purple cloaks, all to be delivered up at Samhain, the pagan Winter Feast, i.e., November i, at Cashel. And the south of Ossory was especially charged with this intolerable burden. It was resisted repeatedly.
Ossory is divided by mountain ridges into three great plains: to the north is the Magh Arget-Ros, the middle is occupied by the Magh Reighna, and southernmost of all is the Magh Feimhin. Ossory itself is the Land between the Waters—the Suir and the Barrow. It was the seat of the great tribe of the Hy Connla, divided into three septs.
During the first part of the second century, a distinguished chief of the race of Connla arose, named Aengus. He disputed the right of Munster to either jurisdiction or tribute in any part of Ossory. A battle was fought and the Munster men were completely defeated. The effect of this victory was the entire emancipation of the middle and south plains, on which the Eric of Edersceol had been levied.
In or about 170, when Eochaid Lamdoit was king of Ossory, the Munster men burst into the plains, with resolve to exterminate the Hy Connla. The Ossorians, in their distress, appealed to Cucorb, king of Leinster, and he sent Lughaidh Laoghis, at, the head of a large force, to assist the Ossorians. The Munster men were defeated with great slaughter, but the kingdom of Ossory had to pay for this assistance by the cession of a large portion in the north-east, which thenceforth constituted the kingdom of Leix, under the overlordship of Leinster.
Another cession of territory took place later to the Hy Bairrche, who occupied the barony of Slieve Marghie in Queen's County. Ossory was consequently becoming contracted, and thrust more and more to the south, where most exposed to the attacks of Munster. Then Corc, king of Munster, about 370 encroached on Magh Feimhin, and established his fortress therein at Cashel. At the same time he revived the claim for the Eric of Edersceol, and to enforce it occupied
VOL. 1. D