The following sections of this BookRags Literature Study Guide is offprint from Gale's For Students Series: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Works: Introduction, Author Biography, Plot Summary, Characters, Themes, Style, Historical Context, Critical Overview, Criticism and Critical Essays, Media Adaptations, Topics for Further Study, Compare & Contrast, What Do I Read Next?, For Further Study, and Sources.
(c)1998-2002; (c)2002 by Gale. Gale is an imprint of The Gale Group, Inc., a division of Thomson Learning, Inc. Gale and Design and Thomson Learning are trademarks used herein under license.
The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction: "Social Concerns", "Thematic Overview", "Techniques", "Literary Precedents", "Key Questions", "Related Titles", "Adaptations", "Related Web Sites". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.
The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults: "About the Author", "Overview", "Setting", "Literary Qualities", "Social Sensitivity", "Topics for Discussion", "Ideas for Reports and Papers". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.
All other sections in this Literature Study Guide are owned and copyrighted by BookRags, Inc.
|Table of Contents|
|Start of eBook||1|
|A HARMONY OF THE FOUR LIVES OF SAINT CIARAN||7|
|THE FIRST LATIN LIFE OF SAINT CIARAN||10|
|II. THE ORIGIN AND BIRTH OF CIARAN: THE WIZARD’S PROPHECIES||10|
|III. HOW CIARAN RAISED THE STEED OF OENGUS FROM DEATH||10|
|IV. HOW CIARAN TURNED WATER INTO HONEY||11|
|IX. HOW CIARAN RESTORED A CALF WHICH A WOLF HAD DEVOURED||11|
|V. HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM A HOUND||12|
|X. HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM ROBBERS||12|
|XI. HOW CIARAN GAVE A GIFT OF CATTLE||12|
|XII. HOW CIARAN GAVE A GIFT OF A PLOUGH-COULTER||13|
|XIII. HOW CIARAN GAVE A GIFT OF AN OX||13|
|XIV. HOW CIARAN GAVE THE KING’S CAULDRON TO BEGGARS, AND WAS ENSLAVED||13|
|XXXIII. HOW A PROPHECY WAS FULFILLED||14|
|XV. HOW CIARAN REPROVED HIS MOTHER||14|
|XVI. THE BREAKING OF THE CARRIAGE-AXLE||15|
|XVII. HOW CIARAN WENT WITH HIS COW TO THE SCHOOL OF FINDIAN||15|
|XVIII. THE ANGELS GRIND FOR CIARAN||16|
|XIX. CIARAN AND THE KING’S DAUGHTER||16|
|XXII. THE STORY OF CIARAN’S GOSPEL||16|
|XXIII. THE BLESSING OF CIARAN’S FOOD||16|
|XXVI. HOW CIARAN FREED A WOMAN FROM SERVITUDE||17|
|XXVII. HOW CIARAN FREED ANOTHER WOMAN FROM SERVITUDE||17|
|XXXII. CIARAN IN ARAN||17|
|XXXIV. HOW CIARAN VISITED SENAN||18|
|XXXV. CIARAN IN ISEL||19|
|XXXVI. THE REMOVAL OF THE LAKE||19|
|XXXVII. CIARAN DEPARTS FROM ISEL||19|
|XXXVIII. CIARAN IN INIS AINGHIN||20|
|XXXIX. THE COMING OF OENNA||20|
|XL. HOW CIARAN RECOVERED HIS GOSPEL||20|
|XLI. HOW CIARAN WENT FROM INIS AINGIN TO CLONMACNOIS||21|
|XLII. THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH||21|
|XLIII. HOW CIARAN SENT A CLOAK TO SENAN||22|
|XLV. THE STORY OF CRITHIR||22|
|XLIV. CIARAN AND THE WINE||23|
|XLIX. THE DEATH OF CIARAN||24|
|L. THE VISIT OF COEMGEN||25|
|LI. THE EARTH OF CIARAN’S TOMB DELIVERS COLUM CILLE FROM A WHIRLPOOL||25|
|LIII. A PANEGYRIC OF CIARAN||25|
|THE SECOND LATIN LIFE OF SAINT CIARAN||26|
|III. HOW CIARAN RAISED THE STEED OF OENGUS FROM DEATH||26|
|IV. HOW CIARAN TURNED WATER INTO HONEY||27|
|XVII. HOW CIARAN WENT WITH HIS COW TO THE SCHOOL OF FINDIAN||27|
|XXVI. HOW CIARAN FREED A WOMAN FROM SERVITUDE||27|
|XXX. THE ADVENTURE OF THE ROBBERS OF LOCH ERNE||28|
|IX. HOW CIARAN RESTORED A CALF WHICH A WOLF HAD DEVOURED||29|
|V. HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM A HOUND||29|
|XXXI. HOW CIARAN FLOATED A FIREBRAND ON THE LAKE||29|
|XXXII. CIARAN IN ARAN||30|
|XXXIV. HOW CIARAN VISITED SENAN||30|
|XXXV. CIARAN IN ISEL||30|
|XXXVI. THE REMOVAL OF THE LAKE||30|
|XXXVIII. CIARAN IN INIS AINGIN||31|
|XXXIX. THE COMING OF OENNA||31|
|XLI. HOW CIARAN WENT FROM INIS AINGHIN TO CLONMACNOIS||32|
|XLIV. CIARAN AND THE WINE||32|
|XLVI. HOW AN INSULT TO CIARAN WAS AVERTED||33|
|XLVII. HOW CIARAN WAS SAVED FROM SHAME||33|
|XLVIII. HOW A MAN WAS SAVED FROM ROBBERS||33|
|XLIX. THE DEATH OF CIARAN||33|
|LI. THE EARTH OF CIARAN’S TOMB DELIVERS COLUM CILLE FROM A WHIRLPOOL||33|
|A RIME ABOUT HIM||34|
|THE THIRD LATIN LIFE OF SAINT CIARAN||35|
|III. HOW CIARAN RAISED THE STEED OF OENGUS FROM DEATH||35|
|IV. HOW CIARAN TURNED WATER INTO HONEY||36|
|V. HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM A HOUND||36|
|IX. HOW CIARAN RESTORED A CALF WHICH A WOLF HAD DEVOURED||36|
|X. HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM ROBBERS||36|
|XIV. HOW CIARAN GAVE THE KING’S CAULDRON TO BEGGARS AND WAS ENSLAVED||36|
|XXIII. THE BLESSING OF CIARAN’S FOOD||37|
|XV. HOW CIARAN REPROVED HIS MOTHER||37|
|XVI. THE BREAKING OF THE CARRIAGE-AXLE||37|
|XVII. HOW CIARAN WENT WITH HIS COW TO THE SCHOOL OF FINDIAN||37|
|XVIII. THE ANGELS GRIND FOR CIARAN||38|
|XXX. THE ADVENTURE OF THE ROBBERS OF LOCH ERNE||38|
|THE IRISH LIFE OF SAINT CIARAN||38|
|II. THE ORIGIN AND BIRTH OF CIARAN: THE WIZARD’S PROPHECIES||40|
|III. HOW CIARAN RAISED THE STEED OF OENGUS FROM DEATH||41|
|IV. HOW CIARAN TURNED WATER INTO HONEY||42|
|V. HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM A HOUND||42|
|VII. CIARAN AND THE FOX||42|
|VIII. HOW CIARAN SPOILED HIS MOTHER’S DYE||43|
|IX. HOW CIARAN RESTORED A CALF WHICH A WOLF HAD DEVOURED||43|
|X. HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM ROBBERS||43|
|XIV. HOW CIARAN GAVE THE KING’S CAULDRON TO BEGGARS AND WAS ENSLAVED||43|
|XVII. HOW CIARAN WENT WITH HIS COW TO THE SCHOOL OF FINDIAN||44|
|XVIII. THE ANGELS GRIND FOR CIARAN||44|
|XIX. CIARAN AND THE KING’S DAUGHTER||44|
|XX. HOW CIARAN HEALED THE LEPERS||45|
|XXI. CIARAN AND THE STAG||45|
|XVII. THE STORY OF CIARAN’S GOSPEL||45|
|XXIV. THE STORY OF THE MILL AND THE BAILIFF’S DAUGHTER||45|
|XXV. THE STORY OF CLUAIN||47|
|XXVIII. ANECDOTES OF CLUAIN IRAIRD||47|
|XXVI. HOW CIARAN FREED A WOMAN FROM SERVITUDE||48|
|XXVII. HOW CIARAN FREED ANOTHER WOMAN FROM SERVITUDE||48|
|XXIX. THE PARTING OF FINDIAN AND CIARAN||48|
|XXXII. CIARAN IN ARAN||49|
|XXXIII. HOW A PROPHECY WAS FULFILLED||49|
|XXXIV. HOW CIARAN VISITED SENAN||49|
|XLIII. HOW CIARAN SENT A CLOAK TO SENAN||49|
|XXXV. CIARAN IN ISEL||50|
|XXXVI. THE REMOVAL OF THE LAKE||50|
|XXXVII. CIARAN DEPARTS FROM ISEL||50|
|XXXVIII. CIARAN IN INIS AINGIN||50|
|XXXIX. THE COMING OF OENNA||50|
|XL. HOW CIARAN RECOVERED HIS GOSPEL||51|
|XLI. HOW CIARAN WENT FROM INIS AINGIN TO CLONMACNOIS||51|
|XLII. THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH||51|
|XLIV. CIARAN AND THE WINE||52|
|XLV. THE STORY OF CRITHIR||52|
|XLIX. THE DEATH OF CIARAN||53|
|L. THE VISIT OF COEMGEN||54|
|LII. THE ENVY OF THE SAINTS||54|
|LIII. A PANEGYRIC ON CIARAN||54|
|ANNOTATIONS TO THE FOREGOING LIVES||56|
|III. HOW CIARAN RAISED THE STEED OF OENGUS FROM DEATH (LA, LB, LC, VG)||65|
|IV. HOW CIARAN TURNED WATER INTO HONEY (LA, LB, LC, VG)||65|
|V. HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM A HOUND (LA, LB, LC, VG)||65|
|VII. CIARAN AND THE FOX (VG)||66|
|VIII. HOW CIARAN SPOILED HIS MOTHER’S DYE (VG)||67|
|X. HOW CIARAN WAS DELIVERED FROM ROBBERS (LA, LC, VG)||69|
|XV. HOW CIARAN REPROVED HIS MOTHER (LA, LC)||70|
|XVI. THE BREAKING OF THE CARRIAGE-AXLE (LA, LC)||71|
|XVIII. THE ANGELS GRIND FOR CIARAN (LA, LC, VG)||72|
|XIX. CIARAN AND THE KING’S DAUGHTER (LA, VG)||73|
|XX. HOW CIARAN HEALED THE LEPERS (VG)||73|
|XXI. CIARAN AND THE STAG (VG)||73|
|XXII. THE STORY OF CIARAN’S GOSPEL (LA, VG)||74|
|XXIII. THE BLESSING OF CIARAN’S FOOD (LA, LC)||75|
|XXIV. THE STORY OF THE MILL AND THE BAILIFF’S DAUGHTER (LB, VG)||75|
|XXV. THE STORY OF CLUAIN (VG)||76|
|XXVI, XXVII. HOW CIARAN FREED WOMEN FROM SERVITUDE (LA, LB, VG)||77|
|XXVIII. ANECDOTES OF CLUAIN IRAIRD (VG)||77|
|XXIX. THE PARTING OF CIARAN AND FINDIAN (VG)||78|
|XXX. THE ADVENTURES OF THE ROBBERS OF LOCH ERNE (LB, LC)||78|
|XXXI. HOW CIARAN FLOATED A FIREBRAND ON THE LAKE (LB)||79|
|XXXII. CIARAN IN ARAN (LA, LB, VG)||79|
|XXXIII. HOW A PROPHECY WAS FULFILLED (LA, VG)||80|
|XXXIV. HOW CIARAN VISITED SENAN||81|
|XXXV. CIARAN IN ISEL (LA, LB, VG)||82|
|XXXVI. THE REMOVAL OF THE LAKE (LA, LB, VG)||83|
|XXXVII. CIARAN DEPARTS FROM ISEL (LA, VG)||83|
|XXXVIII. CIARAN IN INIS AINGIN (LA, LB, VG)||84|
|XXXIX. THE COMING OF OENNA (LA, LB, VG)||84|
|XL. HOW CIARAN RECOVERED HIS GOSPEL (LA, VG)||85|
|XLI. HOW CIARAN WENT FROM INIS AINGHIN TO CLONMACNOIS (LA, LB, VG)||85|
|XLII. THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH (LA, VG)||86|
|XLIII. HOW CIARAN SENT A CLOAK TO SENAN (LA, VG)||89|
|XLIV. CIARAN AND THE WINE (LA, LB, VG)||89|
|XLV. THE STORY OF CRITHIR (LA, VG)||90|
|XLVI. HOW AN INSULT TO CIARAN WAS AVERTED (LB)||91|
|XLVII. HOW CIARAN WAS SAVED FROM SHAME (LB)||92|
|XLVIII. HOW A MAN WAS SAVED FROM ROBBERS (LB)||92|
|XLIX. THE DEATH OF CIARAN (LA, LB, VG)||92|
|L. THE VISIT OF COEMGEN (LA, VG)||93|
|LIII. THE ENVY OF THE SAINTS (VG)||97|
|LIV. THE PANEGYRICS (LA, VG)||99|
|THE METRICAL PANEGYRIC IN LB||99|
|ADDITIONAL NOTE ON CIARAN’S BIRTHPLACE||100|
|THE LATIN TEXT OF LB||102|
|METRUM DE EO SIC||109|
Of all the saints of Ireland, whose names are recorded in the native Martyrologies, probably there were none who made so deep an impression upon the minds of their fellow-countrymen as did Ciaran of Clonmacnois. He stands, perhaps, second only to Brigit of Kildare in this respect; for Patrick was a foreigner, and Colum Cille accomplished his work and exercised his influence outside the shores of Ireland.
Doubtless much of the importance of Ciaran is reflected back from the outstanding importance of his great foundation—the monastic university, as it is fair to call it, of Cluain maccu Nois (in an English setting spelt “Clonmacnois"), on the shore of the Shannon. But this cannot be the whole explanation of the esteem in which he was held; it must be at least partly due to the memory of his own character and personality.
Such a conclusion is indicated if we examine critically the Lives of this saint, translations of which are given in the present volume, and compare them with the lives of other Irish saints. In studying all these documents we must bear in mind that none of them are, in any modern sense of the word, biographies. A biography, in the proper definition of the term, gives an ordered account of the life of its subject, with dates, and endeavours to trace the influences which shaped his character and his career, and the manner in which he himself influenced his surroundings. The so-called lives of saints are properly to be regarded as homilies. They were composed to be read to assemblies of the Faithful, as sermons for the festivals of the saints with whom they deal; and their purpose was to edify the hearers by presenting catalogues of the virtues of their subjects, and, especially, of their thaumaturgic powers. Thus they do not possess the unity of ordered and well-designed biographies; they consist of disconnected anecdotes, describing how this event or that gave occasion for a miraculous display.
It follows that to the historian in search of unvarnished records of actual fact these documents are useless, without most drastic criticism. They were compiled long after the time of their subjects, from tales, doubtless at first, and probably for a considerable time, transmitted by oral tradition. It would be natural that there should be much cross-borrowing, tales told about one saint being adapted to others as well, until they became stock incidents. It would also be nothing more than natural that many elements in the Lives should be survivals from more ancient mythologies, having their roots in pre-Christian beliefs. Nevertheless, none of these writings are devoid of value as pictures of life and manners; and even in descriptions of incredible and pointless miracles precious scraps of folk-lore are often embedded. In most, if not in all, cases, the incidents recorded in the Lives are to be criticised as genuine traditions, whatever their literal historicity may be; few, if any, are conscious inventions or impostures.
In the Lives of Ciaran there are many conventional incidents of this kind, which reappear in the lives of other saints. In the Annotations in the present edition a few such parallels are quoted; though no attempt is made to give an exhaustive list, the compilation of which would occupy more time and space than its scientific value would warrant. But there are certain other incidents of a more individual type, and it is these which make the Lives of Ciaran especially remarkable. They may well be genuine reminiscences of the real life, or at least of the real character of the man himself. Thus, there are a number of coincidences, clearly undesigned (noted below, p. 104) consistently pointing to a pre-Celtic parentage for the saint. Again, the saint’s mother is represented as a strong personality, with a decided strain of “thrawnness” in her composition; while the saint himself is shown to us as distinguished by a beautiful unselfishness. This, it must be confessed, is very far from being a common character of the Irish saints, as they are represented to us by the native hagiologists; and in any case the character-drawing of the average Irish saint’s life is so rudimentary, that when we are thus enabled to detect well-defined traits, we are quite justified in accepting them as based on the tradition of the actual personality of the saint. In other words, so deep was the impression which the man made upon his contemporaries during his short life, that his memorabilia seem to be, on the whole, of a more definitely historic nature than are those of other Irish saints.
There is, however, a disturbing element which must be kept in mind in criticising the Lives of Ciaran. He was the son of a carpenter, and he was said to have died at the age of thirty-three. It is quite clear that these coincidences with the facts of the earthly parentage and death of Christ were observed by the homilists—indeed the author of the Irish Life says as much, at the end of his work. They provoked a natural and perhaps wholly unconscious desire to draw other parallels; and if we may use a convenient German technical term, there is a traceable Tendenz in this direction, as is indicated in the Annotations on later pages. It is not to be supposed that even these apparently imitative incidents are (not to mince matters) mere pious frauds; they may well have come into existence in the folk-consciousness automatically, before they received their present literary form. But such a development could hardly have centred in an unworthy subject; there must have been a well-established tradition of a Christ-likeness of character in the man, for such parallels in detail to have taken shape.
The homiletic purpose of these documents is most clearly shown in the Irish Life. This was written to be preached as a sermon on the saint’s festival ["this day to-day,” Sec. 1], at Clonmacnois ["he came to this town,” Sec. 34: “a fragment of the cask remained here till recently,” Sec. 36: “here are the relics of Ciaran,” Sec. 41. Similarly the First Latin Life, Sec. 35, calls the saint “Our most holy patron"]. The actual date of the Irish sermon is less easy to fix; the language has been modernised step by step in the process of transmission from manuscript to manuscript, but originally it may have been written about the eleventh century, though incorporating fragments of earlier material. The passage just quoted, saying that a certain relic had remained till recently, may possibly indicate that the homily had been delivered shortly after one of the many burnings and plunderings which the monastery suffered; in such a calamity the relic might have perished. The prophecy put into Ciaran’s mouth, that “there would be great persecution of his city from evil men in the end of the world” [Irish Life, Sec. 38] seems to relate to such an event: it is very suggestive that exactly the same exprestion “great persecution from evil men” (ingrem mor o droch-daoinibh) is used in the Chronicon Scotorum of certain raids on the monastery which took place in the year A.D. 1091; and that on the strength of an old prophecy there was a belief in Ireland that the world was destined to come to an end in the year 1096, as we learn from the Annals of the Four Masters under that date. It must, however, be remembered that a date determined for a single incident does not necessarily date the whole compilation containing it.
The text of the First Latin Life (here called for convenience of reference LA) is found in an early fifteenth-century MS. in Marsh’s Library, Dublin. It has been edited, without translation, by the Rev. C. Plummer in his most valuable Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae (Oxford, 1910) vol. i, pp. 200-216. The translation given in this volume has been made from Plummer’s edition, which I have collated with the original MS.
The text of the Second Latin Life (LB) is contained in two MSS. in the Bodleian Library (Rawl. B 485 and Rawl. B 505, here called R1 and R2). Of these R2 is a direct copy of R1, as has been proved by Plummer, in his description of these manuscripts. As to their date, there is no agreement; the estimate for R1 ranges from the first half of the thirteenth to the fourteenth century, R2 being necessarily somewhat later. The Life of Ciaran contained in these MSS. has been used by Plummer in editing LA, and extracts from it are printed in his footnotes. It has not, however, been previously printed in its entirety, and a transcript made by myself is therefore added here, in an Appendix.
The text of the Third Latin Life (LC) is contained in the well-known Brussels MS., called Codex Salmaticensis from its former sojourn at Salamanca. It is of the fourteenth century. This was the only continuous authority at the disposal of the compiler of the Bollandist life of our saint; he speaks of it in the most contemptuous terms. The life of Ciaran in this manuscript is a mere fragment, evidently copied from an imperfect exemplar; there seems to have been a chasm in the middle, and there is a lacuna at the end, which the scribe has endeavoured to conceal by adding the words “Finit, Amen.” The translation here given has been prepared from the edition of the Salamanca MS. by de Smedt and de Backer, cols. 155-160.
The Irish Life (here denoted VG, i.e. Vita Goedelica) was edited by Whitley Stokes from the late fifteenth-century MS. called the Book of Lismore. The numerous errors in the Lismore text may be to some extent corrected by collation with another Brussels MS., written in the seventeenth century by Micheal o Cleirigh. Stokes has indicated the more important readings of the Brussels MS. in his edition. The scribe of the Lismore Text was conscious of the defects of his copy: for in a note appended to the Life of our saint, he says, “It is not I who am responsible for the meaningless words in this Life, but the bad manuscript”—i.e. the imperfect exemplar of which he was making a transcript.
There were other Lives of the saint in existence, apparently no longer extant. Of these, one was in the hands of the hagiographer Sollerius: for in his edition of the Martyrologium of Usuardus (Antwerp, 1714, p. 523) he says, Querani, Kirani, uel Kiriani uitam MS. habemus. uariaque ad eam annotata, quae suo tempore digerentur. This promise he does not appear to have fulfilled; the Bollandist compiler, as we have just noticed, had no materials but the imperfect Salamanca Life, and was forced to fill its many gaps as best he could, by diligently collecting references to Ciaran in the lives of other saints. Another Life of the saint seems to be referred to in the Martyrology of Donegal; under the 10th May that compilation quotes a certain “Life of Ciaran of Cluain” (i.e. Clonmacnois) as the authority for a statement to the effect that “the order of Comgall [of Bangor, Co. Down] was one of the eight orders that were in Ireland.” It would be irrelevant to discuss here the meaning of this statement; its importance for us lies in the fact that the sentence is not found in any of the extant Lives, so that some other text, now unknown, must be in question.
Ciaran of Clonmacnois was not the only saint of that name. Besides his well-known namesake of Saighir (Seir-Kieran, King’s Co.), there were a few lesser stars called Ciaran, and there is danger of confusion between them. The name reappears in Cornwall, with the regular Brythonic change of Q to P, in the form Pieran or Pirran. This Pieran is wrongly identified by Skene with our saint; a single glance at the abstract of the Life of St. Pieran given by Sir T.D. Hardy will show how mistaken this identification is. A similar confusion is probably at the base of the curious statement in Adam King’s Scottish Kalendar of Saints, that Queranus was an “abot in Scotl[=a]d under king Ethus, [anno] 876” and of Camerarius’ description of him as “abbas Foilensis in Scotia."
The four documents of which translations are printed in this book relate almost, though not quite, the same series of incidents. There is a sufficient divergence between them, both in selection and in order, as well as in the minor details, to make the determination of their mutual relationship a difficult problem. We must regard all four as independent compositions, though based on a common group of sources, which, in the first instance, were doubtless disjointed memorabilia, preserved by oral tradition in Clonmacnois. These would in time gradually become fitted into the four obvious phases of the saint’s actual life—his boyhood, his schooldays, his wanderings, and his final settlement at Clonmacnois. It is not difficult to form a plausible theory as to how the systematisation took place, and also as to how the slight variants between different versions of the same story arose. The composition of hymns to the founder and patron would surely be a favourite literary exercise in Clonmacnois. In such hymns the different incidents would be told and re-told, the details varying with the knowledge and the metrical skill of the versifiers. There are excerpts from such hymns, in Irish, scattered through VG: and LB ends with a pasticcio of similar fragments in Latin. As a number of different metres are employed, both in the Irish and in the Latin extracts, there must have been at least as many independent compositions drawn upon by the compilers of the prose Lives: and it is noteworthy that there are occasionally discrepancies in detail between the verse fragments and their present prose setting. Most probably the prose Lives were based directly on the hymns; one preacher would use one hymn as his chief authority, another would use another, and thus the petty differences between them would become fixed, perhaps exaggerated as the prose writer filled in details for which the exigencies of verse allowed no scope. It is probably impossible to carry the history of the tradition further.
In order to facilitate comparison between the four documents, I have divided them into incidents, and have provided titles to each. These titles are so chosen that they may be used for every presentation of the incident, however the details may vary. The titles are numbered with Roman numerals, whilst the successive incidents within each of the Lives are numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals. The Harmony of the Four Lives, which follows this Introduction, will make cross-reference easy.
No modern biography, no edition of the ancient homiletic Lives, of Ciaran could be considered complete without a history of Clonmacnois, through which being dead he yet spake to his countrymen for a thousand years. It was the editor’s intention to include such a history in the present volume; and this part of the projected work was drafted. But as it progressed, and as the indispensable material increased in bulk, it became evident that it would be impossible to do justice to the subject within the narrow limits of a volume of the present series. A slight or superficial history of Clonmacnois would be worse than none, as it would block the way for the fuller treatment which the subject well deserves. The materials collected for this part of the work have therefore been reserved for the present: it is hoped that their publication will not be long delayed.
[Footnote 1: The name is pronounced as a dissyllable, something like Kyee-raun, with a stress on the second syllable.]
[Footnote 2: The Bollandists long ago remarked as the special characteristics of Irish Saints’ Lives, their doubtful historicity, their late date, and their continual repetition of stock incidents. (At priusquam id agam, lectorem duo uniuersim monitum uelim; primum est, quod Hibernorum sanctorum acta passim dubia sint fidei, et a scriptoribus minime accuratis ac aetate longe posterioribus conscripta; alterum est, quod in iisdem frequens occurrat rerum simillimarum narratio, quas uariis sanctis adscribunt, ita ut nescias cui tuto adscribi possint.—Acta Sanctorum, September, vol. iii, p. 372).]
[Footnote 3: Even the date of Ciaran’s death may have been manipulated, in order to make his age conform to the age of Christ. As we shall see below, traditions vary.]
[Footnote 4: The end of the world is not actually mentioned in the Annals, but the expected plague referred to was undoubtedly the apparition of the mysterious Roth Ramhach, or “oar-wheel,” an instrument of vengeance that was to herald the end of all things. For the references to this prophecy see O’Curry’s Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History (index, sub voce “Roth Ramhach"), and the present writer’s Study of the Remains and Traditions of Tara (Proceedings Royal Irish Academy, vol. xxxiv, sect. C, p. 231 ff.).]
[Footnote 5: The following corrections may be noticed. Page 201 of printed text, line 7, for Et cum read Cumque. Same page, line 24, for factum read factam (sic). Page 202, line 6, after vitulum add ilico canis famelicus iruit (sic) in uitulum. Same page, line 25, after fregit add et fracto capite effussoque cerebro canis periit. Same page, line 33, after narrabant add hoc. Same page, lines 35, 38, for vaccam read vacam. Page 203, line 35, for Angeli read Angli. Same page, line 39,
[Footnote 6: Zeitschrift fuer Celtische Philologie, vol. v, p. 429.]
[Footnote 7: Lives of Saints from the Book of Lismore, Oxford, 1890, pp. 117-134.]
[Footnote 8: Four Ancient Books of Wales, i, 124.]
[Footnote 9: Descriptive Catalogue of Materials for the History of Great Britain, vol. i, p. 102.]
[Footnote 10: Forbes. Kalendars, s. v. Queranus; Bollandist Acta.]
* * * * *
To the incidents of Ciaran’s life VG prefixes—
I. The Homiletic Introduction (VG I)
not found in any of the Latin Lives.
=A.= Ciaran was born A.D. 515. The first section of his life, his Childhood and Boyhood, may have covered the first ten or twelve years of his life—say in round numbers 515-530. Fifteen incidents of this period are recorded, which are found in the Lives as under—
LB LC VG
II. The origin and birth of Ciaran; the
wizard’s prophecies 1 1 1 2
III. How Ciaran raised the steed of Oengus
from death 2 2 2 3
IV. How Ciaran turned water into honey 3 3 3 4
V. How Ciaran was delivered from a
hound 6 9 4 5
VI. How Ciaran and his instructor conversed,
though distant from one another 4 — — 6
VII. Ciaran and the fox — — — 7 VIII. How Ciaran spoiled his mother’s
The boyhood legend probably consisted originally of the five incidents common to all, II-V, IX. It is noteworthy, however, that LB transfers V, IX, to a position after the second phase of the Life. This is possibly due to a misplaced leaf in the exemplar from which our copies of LB are derived. X-XIII, variants on the theme of XIV, are probably interpolations in LA, and VIII, a valuable fragment of folk-lore, is an interpolation in VG. VI and VII are conflations of two varieties of one incident, as is pointed out in the Annotations. These observations will show how complex is the criticism of the Ciaran tradition.
=B.= The second phase of the life is the Schooling of Ciaran at Clonard; perhaps about 530-535, still using round numbers. This part of the life is most fully told in VG; it is very fragmentary in all the Latin Lives. There are thirteen incidents—
LB LC VG
XVII. How Ciaran went with his cow to
the school of Findian 15 4 11 12
XVIII. The angels grind for Ciaran 16 — 12 13
XIX. Ciaran and the king’s daughter 17 — — 14
XX. How Ciaran healed the lepers — — — 15
XXI. Ciaran and the stag — — — 16
XXII. The story of Ciaran’s gospel 18 — — 17
XXIII. The blessing of Ciaran’s food 19 — 8 —
XXIV. The story of the mill and the
bailiff’s daughter — 6 — 18
XXV. The story of Cluain — — — 19
XXVI. How Ciaran freed a woman from
servitude 20 5 — 21
XXVII. How Ciaran freed another woman
from servitude 21 — — 22
XXVIII. Anecdotes of Clonard — — — 20
XXIX. The parting of Ciaran and Findian — — — 23
=C.= The third phase may be called the Wanderings of Ciaran. From Clonard he made his way to the monastery of Ninnedh on the island in Loch Erne now called Inismacsaint (it is to be noted that VG knows nothing of this visit). From Loch Erne he went to Aran, thence (after a visit to Saint Senan on Scattery Island) to his brother’s monastery at Isel, a place not certainly identified. After this he removes to Inis Aingin, now Hare Island in Loch Ree, which is his last halting-place before reaching his goal at Clonmacnois. There are twelve incidents. The first forms incident 13 of LC, which then breaks off; this text therefore no longer requires a special column. The wander-years end with 548, the year of the saint’s arrival at Clonmacnois.
XXX. The adventure of the robbers of Loch
Erne — 7 —
XXXI. How Ciaran floated a firebrand on the
lake — 10 —
XXXII. Ciaran in Aran 22 11 24
XXXIII. How a prophecy was fulfilled 12 — 25
XXXIV. How Ciaran visited Senan 23 12 26
XXXV. Ciaran in Isel 24 13 28
XXXVI. The removal of the lake 25 14 29
XXXVII. Ciaran departs from Isel 26 — 30 XXXVIII. Ciaran in Inis Aingin 27 15 31
XXXIX. The coming of Oenna 28 16 32
XL. How Ciaran recovered his gospel 29 — 33
XLI. How Ciaran went from Inis Aingin
to Clonmacnois 30 17 34
The difference of opinion as to the setting of incident XXXIII is to be noted. Also noteworthy is the absence of any reference to a second visit to Senan, though such is postulated in the lives of the latter saint.
=D.= The fourth phase covers the time—according to all our texts a few months, according to other authorities some years—intervening between the foundation of Clonmacnois and the death of Ciaran. The traditions of LA and VG here run along the same lines; LB is curiously diverse. There are in all twelve incidents, namely—
sp; LA LB VG
XLII. The foundation of the church 31 — 35
XLIII. How Ciaran sent a cloak to Senan 32 — 27
XLIV. Ciaran and the wine 34 18 36
XLV. The story of Crithir 33 — 37
XLVI. How an insult to Ciaran was averted — 19 —
XLVII. How Ciaran was saved from shame — 20 — XLVIII. How a man was saved from robbers — 21 —
XLIX. The death of Ciaran 35 22 38
L. The visit of Coemgen
* * * * *
Here beginneth the Life of Saint Kiaranus, Abbot and Confessor.
1. The holy abbot Kyaranus sprang from the people of the Latronenses, which are in the region of Midhe, that is, in the middle of Ireland. His father, who was a cart-wright, was called Beonnadus; now the same was a rich man; and he took him a wife by name Derercha, of whom he begat five sons and three daughters. Of these there were four priests and one deacon, who were born in this order, with these names—the first Lucennus, the second Donanus, the third that holy abbot Kyaranus, the fourth Odranus, the fifth Cronanus, who was the deacon. Also the three daughters were named Lugbeg, and Raichbe, and Pata. Lugbeg and Raichbe were two holy virgins; Pata, however, was at first married, but afterwards she was a holy widow. Now inasmuch as the wright Beonedus himself was grievously burdened by the imposts of Ainmireach King of Temoria, he, eluding the pressure of the impost, departed from his own region, that is from the coasts of Midhe, into the territories of the Conactha. There he dwelt in the plain of Aei, with the king Crimthanus; and there he begat Saint Kyaranus, whose Life this is.
Now his birth was prophesied by a wizard of the aforesaid king, who said, before all the folk, “The son who is in the womb of the wife of Beoedus the wright shall be had in honour before God and before men; as the sun shineth in heaven so shall he himself by his holiness shine in Ireland.” Afterwards Saint Kyaranus was born in the province of the Connachta, namely in the plain of Aei, in the stronghold called Raith Crimthain; and he was baptized by a certain holy deacon who was called Diarmaid in the Scotic [= Irish] tongue; but afterwards he was named Iustus, for it was fitting that a “just one” should be baptized by a “Iustus.” And Saint Ciaran was reared with his parents in the aforesaid place, and by all things the grace of God was manifested within him.
2. One day the best horse of Aengussius, son of the aforesaid King Crimhthanus, died suddenly, and he was greatly distressed at the death of his best horse. Now when in sorrow he had fallen asleep, in his dreams a shining man appeared to him, saying to him, “Sorrow not concerning thy horse, for among you there is a boykin [puerulus], Saint Kiaranus son of Beoedus the wright, who by God’s grace can quicken thy horse. Let him pour water into the mouth of the horse, with prayer, and upon its face, and forthwith it shall arise sound. And do thou bestow a gift on the boy for the quickening of thy horse.” Now when Aengus son of the king was awakened out of sleep, he told these words to his friends; and he himself came to Saint Kyaranus and led him up to the place where the horse was lying dead. When the dutiful boy Kyaranus poured water into the mouth and on the face of the horse, it forthwith rose from death and stood whole before them all. The son of the king bestowed that field, which was great and the best, upon Saint Kiaranus in perpetuity.
3. On another day the mother of Saint Kyaranus upbraided him, saying, “The sensible other boys bring honey to their parents every day, from the fields and the places where honey is found. But this our son, weak and soft as he is, bringeth us no honey.” The holy boy Kyaranus, hearing this saying of his mother chiding him, made his way to a spring hard by, and thence filled a vessel with water. When he blessed it, honey of the best was made from the water, and he gave it to his mother. But his parents, astonished at the miracle, sent that honey to the deacon Iustus, who had baptized him, that he might himself see the miracle wrought by God through the boy whom he baptized. When he had heard and seen it, he gave thanks to Christ, and prayed for the boy.
VI. HOW CIARAN AND HIS INSTRUCTOR CONVERSED, THOUGH DISTANT FROM ONE ANOTHER
4. The holy boy Kyaranus, as he kept the flocks of his parents, was wont to read the Psalms with Saint Diarmatus. But that teaching was imparted in a manner to us most wondrous. For Saint Kiaranus was keeping the flocks in the southern part of the plain of Aei, and Saint Diarmatus was dwelling in the northern part of the same plain, and the plain was of great extent between them. And thus, from afar off, they would salute each the other at ease, with words, across the spaces of the plain; and the elder would teach the boy from his cell across the plain, and the boy would read, sitting upon a rock in the field. The which rock is reverenced unto this day, as the Cross of Christ, called by the name of Kyaranus, is placed upon it. Now thus by divine favour were the holy ones wont to hear each the other, while others heard them not.
5. On a day when Saint Kyaranus was keeping the herds, a cow gave birth to a calf in his presence. Now in that hour the dutiful boy saw a wretched wasted hungry wolf a-coming towards him, and God’s servant said to him, “Go, poor wretch, and devour that calf.” Forthwith the famished hound fell upon the calf and devoured it. But when the holy herd-boy had come home with his herds, the cow, seeking her calf, was making a loud outcry; and when Derercha, mother of Saint Kyaranus, saw it, she said unto him, “Kyaranus, where is the calf of yonder cow? Restore it, although it be from sea or from land. For thou has lost it, and its mother’s heart is sore vexed.” When Saint Kyaranus heard these words, he returned to the place where the calf was devoured, and collected its bones into his breast; then returning, he laid them before the cow as she lamented. Straightway, by divine mercy, by reason of the holiness of the boy, the calf arose before them all, and stood whole upon its feet, sporting with its mother. Then those who stood by lifted up their voices in praise to God, blessing the boy.
6. As the dutiful boy Kyaranus was going out to a homestead hard by, certain worldly men, cruel and malignant, let loose a most savage hound at him, so that it should devour him. When Saint Kyaranus saw the fierce hound coming towards him, he appropriated a verse of the Psalmist, saying, “Lord, deliver not the soul that trusteth in Thee unto beasts.” Now as the hound was rushing vehemently, by divine favour it thrust its head into the ring-fastening of a calf; and tied by the ring-fastening, it struck its head against the timber to which the fastening was hanging, and thus it broke its head. Its head being broken and the brains scattered, the dog expired. When they saw this they feared greatly.
7. On another day certain robbers, coming from a foreign region, found Saint Kiaranus alone, reading beside his herds; and they thought to slay him and to reave his herds. But as they came toward him with that intent, they were smitten with blindness, and could move neither hand nor foot till they had wrought repentance, praying him for their sight. Then the dutiful shepherd, seeing them turned from their wickedness, prayed for them, and forthwith they were loosed and their sight restored (soluti sunt in lumine suo). And they returned and offered thanks, and told this to many.
8. One day a certain poor man came to Saint Kyeranus, and begged of him a cow. Then Saint Kieranus asked of his mother that a cow should be given to the poor man; but his mother would not hearken unto him. When Saint Kieranus saw this, he made the poor man accompany him out of doors with the herds, and there he gave unto him a good cow with her calf. Now the calf itself was between two kine, and both of them had a care for it; and as the dutiful boy knew that the second cow would be of no service without the calf, he gave them both, with their calf, to the poor man. For these, on the following day, four kine were gifted to Saint Kiaranus by other folk as an alms, and these he gave to his mother as she was chiding him. Then he exhorted his mother in reasonable manner, and she was thereafter in awe of him.
9. Saint Kiaranus on another day gave the coulter of his uncle Beoanus to a certain poor man, for which likewise on another day he received four coulters. For four smiths came from the steading called Cluain Cruim, with four coulters, which they delivered for an alms to Saint Kyaranus; and these the holy boy restored to him for his coulter.
10. On another day Saint Kyaranus gave the ox of the same uncle to a man who begged for it. And he said unto him, “Son, how shall I be able to plough to-day, seeing that thou hast given mine ox to another?” To him responded the holy boy, “Set thou to-day thy horse with the oxen in the plough, and to-morrow thou shalt have oxen enough.” Forthwith the horse, set under the yoke with the oxen, in place of the ox that had been given, became tame; and the whole day it ploughed properly under the yoke, like an ox. On the following day four oxen were gifted for an alms to Saint Kiaranus, and these he delivered to his uncle instead of his ox. For men who heard and saw the great signs wrought by Saint Kyaranus were wont to beg for his prayers, and to offer oblations unto him.
11. One day the father of Saint Kiaranus bore a royal vessel from the house of King Furbithus, to keep it for some days. Now the king treasured that vessel. But Saint Kiaranus delivered that vessel of the king to certain poor men who asked an alms in Christ’s name, as he had nothing else. When the king heard this, his anger was kindled mightily, and he commanded that Saint Kiaranus should be enslaved to his service. And so for this cause was blessed Kiaranus led into captivity, and was a slave in the house of King Furbithus. A task chosen for its severity was laid upon him, namely, to turn the quern-stone daily for making flour. But in wondrous wise Saint Kiaranus used to sit and read beside the quern-stone,
12. On a certain day when Saint Kieranus was in the place called Cluain Innsythe, he saw a ship floating on the river, and he saw a hut on the bank of the river. Now there was a platter woven of twigs within it, full of ears of corn, with fire underneath so that they should be dried for grinding, as was the custom of the western people, that is, of Britain and of Ireland. Saint Kyaranus said in prophecy, secretly, to his companions, “Yonder ship which is on the waters shall be burned to-day, and the hut which is on land shall be submerged.” As they disputed and wondered, he said, “Wait a little space, and ye shall see it with your eyes.” Forthwith that shiplet was raised from the water on to the land, and placed in a shed that its leaks and cracks might there be caulked. But a bonfire having been lit, the shed was consumed, and the ship in its midst was likewise consumed. But strong men, wrenching the hut out of the ground, cast it from the bank into the river, and there it was submerged, as the servant of the Lord prophesied. When they heard and saw such a prophecy of things contrary, they gave glory to Christ who giveth such a gift unto his servants.
13. On another day when Saint Kiaranus had come from the fields to his home, men came meeting him. To them he said, “Whence have ye now come?” They said, “We come now from the house of Beoedus the wright.” Said he to them, “Have ye gotten there fitting refreshment for Christ’s sake?” They said, “Nay; but we found there a hard woman who would not for hospitality give us so much as a drink.” When Saint Kyaranus heard this, he blessed them, and came swiftly to his house, and entering the house he found no one therein, for its inmates were busied with their work out of doors. Then blessed Kyaranus, moved with zeal for God, scattered all the food which he found in the house of his parents; for the milk he poured on the ground, the butter he mixed with the sheep’s
14. On another day when Saint Kyaranus was sitting in a carriage with his father, the axle of the carriage broke in two in the middle of the plain; and the father of the saint, with his attendants, was distressed. Then Saint Kyeranus blessed the axle, and it was forthwith made whole again as it had been before; and afterwards for the entire day they travelled in the carriage safely.
15. After this Saint Kyaranus wished to leave his parents and to go forth to the school of Saint Finnianus, who was a wise man abounding in all holiness; so that he might there read the Scriptures, with the other saints of Ireland who were there. He asked of his parents that a cow might be led with him to the school, for the sake of her milk to sustain him; but his mother denied it, saying, “Others who are in that school have no kine.” Then having received the licence and blessing of his parents—though his mother was grieved, for she wished to have him always with herself—Saint Kyaranus went on his way.
Coming to the cattle of his parents, he blessed a cow, and commanded her in the name of the Lord to follow him. Forthwith that cow followed him with her new-born calf; and wheresoever he would go the cow walked after him, to the city of Cluayn Irayrd, which is in the boundary of the Laginenses and Ui Neill. But the city itself lies in the territory of Ui Neill.
When Saint Kyeranus had come thither, he used to make a barrier in the pastures between the cow and her calf with his rod; and by no means did they ever dare to cross the tracks of the holy rod, nor used they cross it; but the cow would lick her calf across the track of the rod, and at the proper time they would come to their stall, with full store of milk.
That cow was of a dun colour, and was called Odar Ciarain, “Ciaran’s Dun.” Her fame endures for ever in Ireland, for she used to have the greatest store of milk, such as at this time could not be believed. Her milk was daily divided among the school, and sufficed for many. Her hide in like manner remains to this day honourably in the city of Saint Kiaranus; for through it, by the grace of God, miracles are wrought. This grace greater than all it has, as the holy ancients, the disciples of Saint Kiaranus, have delivered unto us; that it is revealed by divine inspiration that every man who shall have died upon it shall possess eternal life with Christ.
16. Now in the school of the most holy master Finnianus there were many saints of Ireland; to wit, two Saints Kiaranus, and two Saints Brendanus, Columba, and many others; and each of them on his day would grind with his own hands on the quern. But the angels of God used to grind for Saint Kiaranus, as they did for him in his captivity.
17. The daughter of the King of Temoria was conducted to Saint Finnianus that she might read the Psalms and the other Scriptures with the saint of God, and should dedicate her virginity. And when she promised of her own free will to preserve her virginity for Christ, Father Finnianus said to Saint Kiaranus, “Son, let this virgin, Christ’s handmaid, daughter of an earthly king, read with thee in the meanwhile, till such time as a cell of virgins shall be built for her.” Which duty Saint Kiaranus obediently accepted, and the virgin read with him the Psalms and other lections. Now when holy Father Finnianus was establishing that virgin and other holy virgins in a cell, the blessed fathers questioned Saint Kiaranus as to her manners and her virtue. To them Kiaranus said; “Verily, I know naught of her virtues, of manners or of body; for God hath known that never have I seen her face, nor aught of her save the lower part of her vesture, when she was coming from her parents; nor have I held any converse with her save only her reading.” For she was wont to take her refection, and to sleep, with a certain holy widow. And the virgin spake the like testimony of Saint Kiaranus, and many were confirmed in the true faith by other testimonies of them.
18. Saint Kiaranus was reading the gospel of Matthew with holy Father Finnianus, along with others. And when he had come to the place where, in the middle of the book, it is written “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, so do ye unto them,” Saint Kiaranus said to Saint Finnianus, “Father, enough for me is this half of this book which I have read, that I may fulfil it in deed; verily this one sentence is enough for me to learn.” Then one of the school said to them all, “Henceforth a fitting name for Kiaranus is ‘Leth-Matha’ (Half-Matthew).” To him the holy elder Finnianus said, “Nay; a fitting name for him is ‘Leth n-Eirenn’ (Half-Ireland); for his parish shall be extended through the middle of Ireland.” This prophecy excited much envy against Saint Kiaranus.
19. On another day, when Saint Kiaranus was alone in his cell, he came to table to take food; and wishing to partake after a blessing, he said, “Benedicite.” When he saw that no one answered “Dominus,” he rose from the table, tasting nothing that day. He did the like on the following day, still rising from the table without food. On the third day, after having thus fasted for three days, he came to table and said, “Benedicite”; and lo, a voice from Heaven said unto him, “The Lord bless thee, weary Kiaranus; now is thy prayer full-ripe. For it is enough for a man, whenever he is alone, to bless his food in the name of the Most High God, and then to partake.” So Saint Kyaranus, giving thanks, ate his bread on the third day.
20. One time he went to the King of Temoria, who was called Tuathal Mael-gharbh, in that he was harsh, so that he should set free a woman unjustly held in servitude with that king. The king released not the woman to him. Then Saint Kiaranus blessed her, and bade her go with him to her own people. So she forthwith rose out of the house of the king, and made her way between crowds of men, and none of them saw her till she came safe to her friends. Regarding this matter the king and the others marvelled greatly at the wondrous acts of God.
21. On another occasion Saint Kyaranus entered the region of a certain lord of the Connachta, that in like manner he should demand from him a certain woman who was in unjust servitude to him. As holy Ciaran was sitting there, lo, three men came with three gifts as an alms to him; namely, one gifted to him a cow, another a robe, and a third a frying-pan; and these three gifts did Ciaran straightway give to the poor who were begging of him in the presence of the lord. Now in that hour in lieu of these gifts he received others yet greater in the presence of the lord; to wit, for the frying-pan a cooking-pot of three measures, and for the one robe twelve robes, and for the one cow twelve kine, were gifted to him by others. Which things Saint Kiaranus sent to other holy men living hard by. Seeing all these things, that lord graciously gave the woman free to Saint Kiaranus, and she went forth to her own people, rejoicing and giving thanks.
22. After these things Saint Kiaranus made his way to an island by name Ara, which is in the ocean westward beyond Ireland a certain space. And that same island is ever peopled from Ireland, and in it dwell a multitude of holy men, and countless saints lie there unknown to all save only to God Omnipotent. Now for many days did Saint Kyranus dwell in hard service, under the most holy Abbot Henna, and great
23. One day when Saint Ciaran was making a journey, there met him a poor man in the way, who begged of him something in alms; and holy Ciaran gave him his cloak, and he himself went on afterwards in his under-garment only. His journey led him to the island of Cathi which is in the entrance of the ocean to the west, in the estuary of Luimnech between the territories of Kiarraighe and of Corco Baiscind: wherein was the most holy senior Senanus, who first dwelt in that island. For a venomous and most hurtful monster had alone possessed that island from ancient times, which holy Senanus, by the power of God, had driven far from thence unto a certain lake; and to-day there is a shining and holy settlement in that island, in honour of Saint Senanus. Now when Saint Kiaranus was approaching that island of Cathi, Saint Senanus foresaw in the spirit his coming and his nakedness: and he sent a ship to bear him to the island, while he himself, taking a cloak secretly in his hands, went out to meet him at the island’s harbour. Now when most blessed Senanus saw Saint Kyaranus coming to him, in an under-garment, he chid him sportively, saying, “Is it not shame that a presbyter should walk in a sole under-garment, without a cowl?” To him, Saint Kiaranus, smiling, said, “This my nakedness shall soon receive its alleviation, for there is a cloak for me under the vesture of mine elder Senanus.” And Saint Kiaranus remained for some days with Saint Senanus, they passing the time in the divine mysteries; and they made a pact and a brotherhood between them, and thereafter Saint Kiaranus with the kiss of peace went his way.
24. Now when blessed Kiaranus came from Saint Senanus, he went out to his brethren Luchennus and Odranus, who were living in a cella which is called Yseal, that is “the lowest place”; and he lived with them for a time. And his brethren made Saint Kiaranus their almoner and guest-master: but Luchennus, who was the eldest, was the abbot of that place, and Odranus was the prior. Once, when Saint Kiaranus was reading out of doors in a field facing the sun, he suddenly espied weary guests entering the guest-house; and rising quickly, he forgot his book, and left it out of doors open till the following day. As he himself was settling the guests in the house, washing their feet and diligently ministering to them, the night fell. In that very night there was a great rain, but by the favour of God the open book was found perfectly dry; for not a drop of rain had touched it, although the whole ground was wet around it. For this did Saint Kiaranus with his brethren render praises to Christ.
25. Near that place of Saint Kiaranus there was an island in a lake, on which a certain lord was dwelling in his fortress with his followers; and the noise of their uproar was hindering the prayers of the holy men in their cella. When Saint Kyeranus saw this, he went out to the shore of the lake, and prayed there to the Lord, that He would give them somewhat of relief from that island. On the following night that island, with its lake, was removed by the divine power, far away to another place, where the noise of the mob of that island could not reach the saints of God. And unto this day there is to be seen the place of the lake, where it had been before, some of it sandy, some of it marshy, as a sign of the act of power.
26. On a certain day when Ciaran was busied out of doors in a field, a poor man came to him, asking that an alms should be given him. In that hour a chariot with two horses was gifted to Saint Kiaranus by a certain lord, namely the son of Crimthannus; which horses with the chariot Saint Kiaranus gave to that poor man.
Then, since the brethren of Saint Kiaranus could not endure the greatness of his charity, for every day he was dividing their substance among the poor, they said unto him, “Brother, depart from us; we cannot now be along with thee in one place, and preserve and nourish our brethren for God, for thine excess of charity.” To whom holy Kiaranus answered: “If therefore I had remained in this place, it would not have been ‘Ysseal,’ that is, ‘lowest,’ that is, not small; but high, that is, great and honourable." With these words, holy Kiaranus gave a blessing to his brethren, and taking his book-satchels with his books on his shoulders, he went thence on his way.
When he had gone some little distance from the place, there met him in the way a stag awaiting him with utmost gentleness. Saint Kiaranus placed his book-satchels upon him, and wheresoever the stag would go, Saint Kieranus followed him. The stag came to Loch Rii which is in the east of Connachta; he stood over against Inis Angin, which is in that lake. Thereby Saint Kyaranus understood that the Lord had called him to that island, and dismissing the stag with a blessing he entered that island and dwelt there.
27. Now when the fame of his holiness was noised abroad, from far and wide and from every quarter good men came together to him, and Saint Kiaranus made them his monks. And many alms, in respect of various matters, would be given to Saint Kiaranus and to his people by the Faithful. But a certain presbyter, by name Daniel, who owned Inis Angin, inspired by the devil’s envy, set about expelling Saint Kyaranus with his followers by force from the island. But Saint Kiaranus, wishing to benefit his persecutor, sent him by faithful messengers a royal gift which had been given him in alms, namely a golden antilum, well adorned. When the presbyter saw it, at first he refused to accept it; but afterwards, on the persuasion of trustworthy men, he received it gratefully. And presbyter Daniel, filled with the grace of God, came and gifted Inis Angin which was in his possession, to God and to Saint Kiaranus for ever.
28. On another day when Saint Kiaranus was in that island Angin, he heard the voice of a man in the port wishing to enter the island; and he said to his brethren, “Go ye, my brethren, and lead me hither him who is to be your abbot after me.” So the brethren, voyaging quickly, found an unconsecrated youth in the port, whom despising they left there. Coming back, they said unto Saint Kiaranus, “We found no man there save an unconsecrated youth, who wandered as a fugitive in the woods; he it is who calleth in the port. Far removed from abbotship is his rudeness!” To these Saint Kiaranus said: “Voyage ye without delay and bring him with speed; for the Lord having revealed it to me, by his voice I have recognised that he shall be your abbot after me.” When the brethren heard this, they forthwith led him in, and Saint Kiaranus tonsured him, and he read diligently with him, and was filled from day to day with the grace of God; and after the most blessed Kiaranus, he was the holy abbot. For he is the blessed Aengus, son of Luigse.
29. The gospel-book of Saint Kieranus fell into the lake from the hand of one of the brethren, who held it carelessly when voyaging. For a long time it was therein, under the water, and was not found. But on a certain day, in summer, the kine entered the lake to refresh themselves in the waters, for the greatness of the heat; and when the kine had returned from the lake, the binding of the leather satchel containing the gospel-book caught about the hoof of a cow, and so the cow dragged the book-satchel on her hoof as she came to land. And the gospel-book was found in the rotten leather satchel, perfectly dry and clean, without any moisture, as though it had been preserved in a book-case. Saint Kiaranus with his followers were rejoiced thereat.
30. After this a certain man of Mumonia, to wit of the people of Corco Baiscind, by name Donnanus, came to Saint Ciaran as he sojourned in Inis Angin. To him one day Saint Kiaranus said, “What seekest thou, father, in these coasts?” Saint Donnanus answered, “Lord, I seek a place wherein to sojourn, where I may serve Christ in pilgrimage.” Saint Kiaranus said to him, “Sojourn, father, in this place; for I shall go to some other place, for I know that here is not my resurrection.”
Then Saint Kyaranus granted Inis Angin with its furniture to Saint Donnanus, and came to a place which is called Ard Mantain, near the river Sinna; but being unwilling to remain in that place, he said: “I will not live in this place: for here shall be great abundance of the things of this life, and earthly joy; and hardly could the souls of my disciples attain to heaven, were I to have dwelt here, for this place belongs to the men of this world.”
Thereafter Saint Kiaranus left that place, and came to a place which once was called Typrait, but now is called Cluain meic Nois. And coming to this place he said: “Here will I live: for many souls shall go forth in this place to the kingdom of God, and in this place shall be my resurrection.”
Then most blessed Kiaranus with his followers dwelt, and began to found a great monastery there. And many from all sides used to come to him, and his parish was extended over a great circuit; and the name of Saint Kiaranus was much renowned over all Ireland. And a shining and holy settlement, the name of which is Cluain meic Nois, grew up in that place in honour of Saint Kiaranus; it is in the western border of the land of Ui Neill, on the eastern bank of the river Synna, over against the province of the Connachta. Therein are the kings or the lords of Ui Neill and of the Connachta buried, along with Saint Kiaranus. For the river Synna, which is very rich in various fish, divides the regions of Niall, that is, of Midhe, and the province of the Connachta.
31. And when Saint Kiaranus would place with his own hands a corner-post in the first building of that settlement, a certain wizard said to him: “This hour is not good for beginning; for the sign of this hour is contrary to beginnings of building.” Then Saint Kiaranus himself set the post in the corner of the house, saying, “Thou wizard, against thy sign I fix this post in the ground; for I care naught for the art of wizards, but in the name of my Lord, Jesus Christ, do I all my works.” For this the wizard and his followers uttered commendation, marvelling at the faith of Saint Ciaran in his God.
32. Now when Saint Kiaranus had been in his settlement of Cluain meic Nois, an excellent cloak was gifted to him in alms by a certain man. Saint Kyaranus was minded to send it to the aforesaid holy elder Senanus, who dwelt in the island of Cathi; but he was not able immediately to find a messenger, because the way from the settlement of Saint Kiaranus of Cluain meic Nois, which is in the middle of Ireland, to the island of Cathi, situate at the entrance of the ocean, was long and rough and difficult, and crossed borders of different kingdoms. Then at the command of Saint Kiaranus, the cloak was placed on the river Synna, and was sent alone with the river, and it came dry over the waters to the island of Cathi; and no one saw it while it travelled thither. The Synna flows from the settlement of Cluain meic Nois to the estuary of Luimnech, in which the island of Cathi stands.
And Saint Senanus, filled with the spirit of prophecy, said to his brethren, “Go ye to the shore of the sea, and bring to us with honour the guest there seated, the gift of a man of God.” And the brethren, asking no questions, made their way to the sea, and found there the cloak, perfectly dry, for it was untouched by the waters. And the holy elder Senanus accepting it, gave thanks to God; and the cloak was in honourable keeping with Saint Senanus, as though it were a sacred diadem.
33. A certain boy of the company of holy Kiaranus, called Crithir of Cluain (a boy of great wit, but hurtful and wanton) fled from Saint Kiaranus to the settlement of Saigyr, in the northern border of Mumonia, that is, the land of Hele, to the other Kiaranus, the most holy aged bishop. And that boy, sojourning for some days with the holy bishop, after his devilish manner took the drink of the brethren, and poured it over the fire; extinguishing thus the consecrated fire. Now Saint Kiaranus the elder would have no other fire in his monastery save the consecrated fire, maintained without being extinguished from Easter to Easter. When Saint Kiaranus the elder heard what the boy Crithir did, it greatly displeased him, and he said, “Let him be chastened for this of God in this life.” When he heard that Saint Kiaranus the elder was angry with him, he went out from the settlement of Saigyr, and when he was gone a short space from the settlement, wolves met him and killed him; yet they did not touch his body after he was dead, after the likeness of that prophet who was killed by the lion.
Now when Saint Kiaranus the younger heard that his boy had been with Kiaranus the elder, he went to him; and on the day when the aforesaid things took place, he came to the settlement of Saigyr and was received with fitting honour by the holy bishop Kiaranus the elder. And the holy abbot Kiaranus the younger said to the holy bishop Kiaranus, “Restore to me, holy father, my disciple alive, who hath been slain while with thee.” To him Saint Keranus the elder said, “First needs must your feet be washed, but we have no fire in the monastery, to warm the water for you; and ye know that it is because your disciple quenched our sacred fire. Wherefore beseech for us consecrated fire from God.” Then the holy abbot Kieranus the younger, son of the wright, stretched his hands in prayer to God, and straightway fire from heaven came into his breast, and thence was the hearth kindled in the monastery.
But the holy bishop Kiaranus the elder prayed to God for that youth slain by wolves, and straightway he arose sound from a cruel death, with the scars of the wolf-bites visible upon him. And blessing them all, he took food and drink with the saints, and afterwards he lived many days.
Then the two Saints Kiaranus made a compact and brotherhood in heaven and in earth between their successors; and they said that should any wish to name or to beg aught for one of them, he should name them both and ask, for they would hear him.
After this the holy abbot Kiaranus the younger said to the bishop, Kiaranus the elder, “In thy place, father, shall remain honour and abundance of riches.” To him said the holy bishop, Kiaranus the elder, “Also in thy place, dearest son, shall last the strength of religion and of wisdom, unto the end of the world.” When these things were said, having received the kiss of peace and blessing of the most holy bishop, Kiaranus the elder, Saint Kiaranus the younger with his own people and with the aforesaid youth Crithir returned to his settlement of Cluain meic Nois.
34. On a certain day when the brethren of Saint Kiaranus were at work in the harvest, enduring thirst from the heat of the sun, they sent word that cold water should be brought to them. Saint Kiaranus answered them by a messenger, “Choose ye, my brethren, whether ye will drink to quench your thirst for necessity, or will endure in thirst till the evening, that through your labour to-day in thirst and in sweat there may be abundance for the brethren who are to be in this place hereafter; and you yourselves will not fail of reward from God in heaven.” The brethren answered, “We choose that there be a sufficiency for our successors, and we to have the reward of our patience and of our thirst in heaven.” So the brethren worked that day athirst, rejoicing, though the sun was hot.
But when evening was come, the brethren returned home, and Saint Kiaranus wished to satisfy them, and to refresh them charitably. And trusting in the Lord, he blessed a great vessel full of water; and immediately under his hands wine of most excellent quality appeared in the vessel. And bringing drinking-cups, he commanded the brethren to refresh their bodies well, with sobriety, rendering thanks to Christ for his gifts.
This is the Last Supper of Saint Ciaran with his brethren in his life, he himself ministering unto them; for he lived thereafter but few days. And that supper was most generous, excelling all the suppers that were made in the monastery of Saint Kiaranus, as is proved thus—
For after a long time, when Saint Columba with his followers had come to Ireland from the island of Hia, a great feast was prepared for them in the monastery of Saint Kiaranus in his settlement of Cluain; and when they had come to the religious house of Saint Kiaranus, they were received with great joy and love, and were refreshed most bounteously with that repast; and the fame of that supper went over the whole settlement and its suburbs, far and wide.
When, in the house of the holy elders, who had a little cell apart in the monastery of Saint Kiaranus, certain persons said in ignorance that never in that place had such a feast been made, nor would be in the future, one, who had been a boy when Saint Kiaranus lived there, answered: “Ye know not whereat ye wonder: for the feast which Saint Kiaranus our patron made, of water turned to wine, for his brethren athirst after harvesting, was far better than this feast. And that ye may know this, and may believe that it is true, come and perceive the odour of my finger with which I drew of that wine for the brethren. For my thumb touched the liquor through the mouth of the cup in which the wine was drawn; and lo, even yet its odour remains thereupon.” Then they all drew near, and being sated with the pleasant and sweet odour of that holy elder, they cried aloud saying, “Truly much better was that feast whose odour remains on a finger most sweet for so long a time.” And they blessed Saint Kiaranus, giving praises to God.
And in those days, in which the brethren of Saint Kiaranus were sowing their crops, there came merchants with wine of the Gauls to Saint Kiaranus, and they filled a huge vessel, the solitana of the brethren, from that wine, which Saint Kiaranus gave to his brethren with his benediction.
35. Our most holy patron Kiaranus lived but for one year in his settlement of Cluain. When he knew that the day of his death was approaching, he prophesied, deploring the subsequent evils that would come to pass in his place after him; and he said that their life would be short. Then the brethren said unto him, “What then shall we do in the time of those evils? Shall we abide here beside thy relics, or shall we go to other places?” To them Saint Kiaranus said, “Haste ye to other quiet places, and leave my relics here like the dry bones of a stag on a mountain. For it is better for you to be with my spirit in heaven than beside my bones on earth, and stumbling withal.”
Saint Kiaranus used greatly to crucify his body, and we write here an example of this. He ever had a stone pillow beneath his head, which till to-day remains in the monastery of Saint Kiaranus, and is reverenced by every one. Moreover, when he was growing weak, he would not have the stone removed from him, but commanded it to be placed to his shoulders, that he should have affliction even to the end, for the sake of an everlasting reward in heaven.
Now when the hour of his departure was approaching, he commanded that he should be carried outside, out of the house; and looking up into heaven, he said, “Hard is that way, and this needs must be.” To him the brethren said, “We know that nothing is difficult for thee, father; but we unhappy ones must greatly fear this hour.”
And being carried back into the house, he raised his hand and blessed his people and clerks; and having received the Lord’s Sacrifice, on the fifth of the ides of September he gave up the ghost, in the thirty-third year of his age. And lo, angels filled the way between heaven and earth, rejoicing to meet Saint Kiaranus.
36. And on the third night after the death of Saint Kiaranus, the most holy abbot Coemhgenus came from the province of the Lagenians to the burial of Saint Kiaranus; and Saint Kiaranus spake with Saint Coemhgenus and they exchanged their vesture, and they made a perpetual brotherhood between themselves and their followers. This is related faithfully and at length in the Life of Coemhgenus himself.
37. Saint Columba, on hearing of the death of Saint Kiaranus, said, “Blessed be God, Who hath called to Himself most holy Kiaranus from this life in his youth. For had he lived to old age, there would have been envy of many against him, for he would have had a firm hold on the parish of all Ireland.”
Saint Columba made a hymn to Saint Kiaranus; and when he set it forth in the settlement of Cluain, the successor of Saint Kiaranus said unto him, “Shining and worthy of praise is this hymn; what reward then, father, shall be rendered unto thee?” Saint Columba answered: “Give me my hands full of the earth of the grave of your holy father Kiaranus; for I wish for and desire that, more than for pure gold and precious gems.” And Saint Columba receiving earth from the grave of Saint Kiaranus, made his way to his own island of Hya.
When Saint Columba was voyaging on the sea, there arose a storm in the sea, and the ship was thrust towards the whirlpool which is in the Scotic tongue called Cori Bracayn, in which is a sea-whirlpool most dangerous, wherein if ships enter they come not out. And the whirlpool beginning to draw the ship towards itself, blessed Columba cast part of the earth of Saint Kiaranus into the sea. Most wondrous to relate, immediately the storm of the air, the movement of the waves, and the swirl of the whirlpool all ceased, till the ship had long escaped from it. Then Saint Columba, giving thanks to God, said to his followers, “Ye see, brethren, how much favour hath the earth of most blessed Kiaranus brought us.”
38. Most blessed Kiaranus living among men passed a life as of an angel, for the grace of the Holy Spirit burned in his face before the eyes of men. Who could expound his earthly converse? For he was young in age and in body, yet a most holy senior in mind and in manners, in humility, in gentleness, in charity, in daily labours, in nightly vigils, and in other divine works.
For now liveth he in rest without labour, in age without senility, in health without sorrow, in joy without grief, in peace without a foe, in wealth without poverty, in endless day without night, in the eternal kingdom without end, before the throne of Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth unto ages of ages. Amen.
Here endeth the life of Saint Ciaran, Abbot of Cluain meic Nois.
[Footnote 1: The inconsistencies in the spelling of the various proper names in this translation follow those in the original documents.]
[Footnote 2: The MS. reads lac iam... effudit. For iam we should probably read enim. A similar correction is made in Sec. 38.]
[Footnote 3: Ipsa insula semper ab Hybernia habitatur. The sense of this passage is not clear: it may be corrupt.]
[Footnote 4: Lit.: “the shadow of the aid of thy dutifulness.”]
[Footnote 5: This sentence reads very awkwardly, owing to the incorporation of two originally interlined glosses. Reference to the MS. enables us to isolate these. The sentence there runs thus: “Si ergo in isto loco mansissem non Ysseal .i. imus esset id est non paruus sed altus .i. magnus et honorabilis.” Here id est occurs three times, once in full, and twice represented by the common contraction .i., which is universally used in MSS. of Irish origin for the introduction of a gloss. If we write the sentence as below, we shall see the significance of the different ways in which the expression is written, and by expunging the glosses can make the sentence less clumsy and more intelligible
_.i. imus_ —“Si ... mansissem, non Ysseal esset, id est non paruus; sed _.i. magnus et honorabilis_ altus.”]
[Footnote 6: Correcting the vita of the MS. to via, in conformity with VG.]
* * * * *
II. THE ORIGIN AND BIRTH OF CIARAN
1. A glorious man; and an abbot in life most holy, Queranus, was born of a father Boecius, of a mother Darercha. This man drew his origin from the northern part of Ireland, that is, he was of the Aradenses by race. Now he was so illuminated by divine grace from his boyhood, that it was clearly apparent of what manner he was destined to be. For he was as a burning lamp in extraordinary charity, so as to show not only the warmth of a pious heart and devotion in relieving the necessity of men, but also an unwearied sympathy for the needs of irrational animals. And because such a lamp should not be hidden under a bushel, so from his boyhood he began to sparkle with the marvels of miracles.
2. For when the horse of the son of the king of that territory perished with a sudden death, and the young man was much grieved at its fall, there appeared to him in dreams a man of venerable and shining countenance, who forbade him to be grieved for the death of the horse, saying unto him, “Call,” said he, “the holy boy Keranus, and let him pour water into the mouth of thy horse, and sprinkle its forehead, and it shall revive. And thou shalt endow him with due reward for its resurrection.”
When the king’s son had wakened from sleep, he sent for the boy Keranus that he should come to him; who, when he made his presence known, and heard the dream throughout, according to what the angel taught him, sprinkled the horse with holy water and raised it from death. When this great miracle was seen, the king of that territory made over to Saint Keranus a fertile and spacious field in honour of Omnipotent God, in Whose Name his horse was resurrected.
3. Moreover it fell out on a certain day that the mother of Keranus himself found fault with him, for that he did not bring wild honey such as the other boys were wont to carry to their parents. When the beloved of God and men heard this, he raised his thoughts to the Boy who was subject to His parents, and blessed water, brought from a neighbouring spring, in His Name who is able to draw honey from the rock, and oil from the hardest stone; and presently that water is changed, with the help of God, into the sweetest honey, and so it is brought to his mother. This honey his parents sent to Saint Dermicius the deacon, surnamed Iustus, who baptized him.
4. Now when the rudiments of letters had been read [with him] by the saint aforesaid, he proposed to go to the blessed abbey of Cluayn Hirard for instruction. And as he wished to fulfil in deed what he had begun to conceive of in his mind, he asked a cow of his parents for his sustenance. But when his mother would not grant his petition, the Heavenly Father, Who loveth those whom He regardeth as a mother her son, did not tarry to fulfil the desire of his beloved. For a milch cow, together with her calf, followed him as though she had been driven after him by her herdsman.
When he had come to the sacred college of Saint Fynnianus, they all had no small joy at his arrival. But the cow, which had followed him, was pastured along with her calf, nor did it [the calf] attempt to touch the udders of its mother without permission. Keranus so separated and divided its pastures, that the mother would only lick the calf, and would not offer to suckle it. Now the milk of that cow was rich in such abundance that, divided daily, it would supply a sufficiency of provision for twelve men.
But the holy youth Keranus, deeply occupied with the sacred Scripture, shone in holiness and wisdom among his fellow-students as a brilliant star among the other stars. For he was filled with the fragrance of perfect charity, with moral worth, with holiness of life, and with sweetness of humility, gracious, honourable, and admirable to present and to absent.
5. One day he made his way to a king, Tuathlus by name, to intercede for the liberation of a certain bond-maid. When he besought the king fervently for her, and he rejected the prayers of the servant of God as though they were ravings, he thought out a new method of liberating her, and determined that he himself should serve the king in her place. Now when he was coming to the house in which the girl was grinding, the doors which were shut opened to him. Entering, he showed himself a second Bishop Paulinus to her. Without delay the king freed her, and further presented his vesture to the servant of God. Receiving this, he forthwith distributed it to the poor.
XXIV. THE STORY OF THE MILL AND THE BAILIFF’S DAUGHTER (abstract only)
6. It fell out one night that the eminent doctor Finnianus sent him with grain of wheat to the mill. Now a certain kingling who lived near, learning that one of the disciples of the man of God had come thither, sent him flesh and ale by a servant. When they had presented the gift of such a man, he answered, “That it may be common,” said he, “to the brethren, cast it all on the surface of the mill.” When the messenger had done this, it was all turned into wheat. When he heard this, the king gave him the steading in which he was dwelling, with all his goods, in perpetuity: but Keranus made it over to his master, for a monastery was afterwards erected there. But the bread made of that grain tasted to the brethren like flesh and ale, and so it refreshed them.
7. Now when a space of time had passed, the licence and benediction of his master having been obtained, he made his way to Saint Nynnidus who was dwelling in a wood (sic) of Loch Erny. Now when he had arrived he was received with great joy and unfeigned love. As he was daily becoming perfect in the discipline of manners and of virtue, on a certain day, as one truly obedient, he went forth to the groves hard by with brethren to cut timber. For it was a custom in that sacred college, that three monks, with an elder, always went out in prescribed order to transport timber. As the others were cutting wood, he by himself, as was his wont, was intent on prayer to God. Meanwhile certain wicked robbers, ferried over in a boat to that island, fell upon the aforesaid brethren and slew them, and bore away their heads. But Keranus, not hearing the sound of his companions hacking, was surprised, and in wonder he hurried to the place where he had left them labouring. When he saw what had been done to the brethren he heaved heavy sighs and was deeply grieved; and he followed the murderers by their track, and found them in the harbour, sweating to carry their boat in the harbour to the water, but unable to do so. For God so fastened their skiff to the land that by no means could
8. At another time when he was keeping the herds of his parents in a certain place, a cow gave birth to a calf in his presence. But a [hound], altogether wasted with leanness, came, desiring to fill [his belly] with whatso falleth from the body of the mother with the calf, and stood before the dutiful shepherd. To which he said, “Eat, poor wretch, yonder calf, for great is thy need of it.” The hound, fulfilling the commands of Queranus, devoured the calf down to the bones. But as Queranus returned with the kine to the house, that one, recalling her calf to memory, was running hither and thither, lowing; and the mother of Queranus, recognising the cause of the lowing, said with indignation to the boy, “Quiranus, restore the calf, though it be burnt with fire or drowned with water.” But he, obeying his mother’s commands, making his way to the place where the calf had been devoured, collected its bones and resuscitated the calf.
9. At a certain time, when he was passing along a road, certain men spurred by a malignant spirit incited a most savage dog to do him a hurt. But Queranus, trusting in his Lord, fortified himself with the shield of devout prayer, and said, “Deliver not to beasts the souls of them that trust in Thee, O Lord”: and soon that dog died.
10. At another time when he was left alone in that island, he heard a poor man in the harbour asking that fire be given to him. For it was now the time of cold: but he had no boat whereby to satisfy the petition of the poor man, though much he desired to do so. And because charity suffereth all things, he cast a burning firebrand into the lake, and the heat of love that sent it prevailing over the waters, it came to the poor man.
11. Now when the man of God had spent a certain time there, with the licence of Nynnidus he hastened to Saint Endeus, abbot in Ara; who was filled with no small joy at his coming. Now on a certain night he dreamed that he had seen beside the bank of the great river Synan a great leafy and fruitful tree which over-shadowed all Ireland. Which dream he related to blessed Endeus on the following day. But Endeus himself bore witness that he had seen the same vision that night, which vision Endeus interpreted: “The tree,” he said, “thou art it, who shalt be great before God and men, and honourable throughout all Ireland; because she is protected from demons and from other perils by the shadow of thy help and grace, as under the shadow of a health-giving tree. Many near and far shall the fruit of thy works advantage. Wherefore according to the decree of God who revealeth secrets, depart to the place that hath been shown thee before, and there abide, according to the grace given thee of God.” Comforted by the interpretation of this vision, in true obedience he obeyed the command of Saint Endeus his spiritual father.
12. And having set forth on the way he found in his journey a poor man, to whom, as he asked an alms of him, he made over his cloak. And when he had arrived at the island of Cathacus, blessed Senanus learnt of his arrival, the Spirit revealing it to him, and coming to meet him he said as though smiling, “Is it not shame for a presbyter to journey without a cloak?” For Senanus in the spirit knew how he had given it to a poor man. And so he came to meet him with a cloak. And Keranus said, “My elder,” said he, “beareth a cloak for me under his vesture.”
13. When he had received it and returned thanks to the giver, he came for sacred converse to the cell of his brother Luctigernnus, where also was his other brother, Odranus by name. There for some time he prolonged his sojourn, and was guest-master. Now one day when he was reading in the open air in the cemetery, guests came unexpectedly, whom he led to the guest-house, having left his book open in forgetfulness: and he washed their feet with devotion, and did the other services necessary for them, for the sake of Christ. Meanwhile, when the night darkness had fallen, there was a great rain. But He Who bedewed the fleece of Gideon, but afterwards kept it untouched by the dew, so preserved the book of holy Keranus, open though it was, from the rushing waters, that not a drop fell upon it.
14. Near to the monastery in which the man of God was then staying, there was an island, which certain worldly men inhabited, whose uproar used greatly to disturb the men of God. Whence it happened that blessed Keranus, compelled by their disquietude, made his way to the lake, and giving himself up wholly to prayer, succeeded in obtaining the removal of those who were distressing the servants of God. For when he ceased from prayer, behold, suddenly the island with the lake and the inhabitants withdrew to a remote place, so that by no means could its inhabitants disturb the friends of the Most High. For this miracle was done in His Name Who overturned Sodom on account of the sin of its inhabitants, and consumed it with fire. The traces of that lake, where it formerly was, still exist.
15. As the man of God was distributing the goods of the monastery for the use of the poor, his brethren complaining of this and coming to him inconsiderately, said, “Depart,” said they, “from us, for we cannot live together.” To whom agreeing, and bidding farewell in the Lord, he transferred himself to an island by name Angina. A monastery having been founded in this island, many hastening from all sides, attracted by the fame of his holiness, submitted to the service of God. Ordering them under strict rules, by face and by habit, by speech and by life, he showed himself as an example to them. For he was as an eagle inciting its young to fly, in respect to sublimity of contemplation; but he lived as the least of them in brotherly humility. For he was in spiritual meditations attached to the highest things; yet so much did he stoop to feeble weakness that he seemed as though he tended towards the lowliest things. He was also perfect in faith, fervent in charity, rejoicing in hope, gentle of heart, courteous of speech, patient and long-suffering, kindly in hospitality, ever diligent in works of piety, benign, gentle, peaceful, sober, and quiet. To summarise many things in one short sentence, he was garnished with the ornament of all the virtues. Expending a care zealous for these and the like matters—the care of Mary for contemplation, and of Martha for the dispensing of things temporal—he fulfilled his duty in ordered succession. Nor could the light of such and so great a lantern be hidden under a bushel: but it glittered with light, all around, wheresoever it abundantly illuminated the world with the outpoured glory of its grace.
16. He was nevertheless inspired with a spirit of prophecy, which appears from the preceding and the following examples. For on a certain day the voice of one asking for ferrying had struck on his ears. Then he said to the brethren, “I hear,” said he, “the voice of him whom God will set over you as abbot. Go, therefore, and fetch him.” So they hastened; and coming to the harbour, they found an unlettered youth. Not caring to lead him to the holy man, they returned and declared that they had found no one, save an unlettered youth who was wandering as a vagabond in the woods. But Saint Queranus said, “Lead him hither,” said he, “and despise not your future pastor.” Who being led in, by the inspiration of God and by the instruction of the holy man, took on him the habit of religion, and duly learned his letters. For he is Saint Oenius, a man of venerable life; and, as the saint prophesied beforehand, he was duly set over the brethren.
17. At length, when some time had passed, a holy man by name Dompnanus, of Mumonia by race, came to visit the man of God. When Saint Keranus enquired of him the cause of his coming, he replied that he wished to have a place in which he could serve the Lord in security. But Saint Keranus, seeking not his own, but the things of Jesus Christ, said, “Here,” said he, “dwell thou, and I with God’s guidance shall seek a place of habitation elsewhere.” Finally, the sacred community accompanying him, he made his way to the place foreshown him of God, in which, when the famous and renowned monastery which is to-day called the city of Cluayn was built, he himself illuminated the world, like the sun, with the light of famous miracles.
18. Of the multitude of these miracles we add some here. One time, when the brethren, labouring in the harvest, were oppressed with peril of thirst, they sent to holy Father Queranus that they might be refreshed by the blessing of water. To these, through the servants, he said: “Choose ye,” said he, “one of two things; either that ye be now revived with water, or that those who are to inhabit this place after you be blessed with the things of this world.” But they answering said: “We choose,” said they, “that those who come after us may abound in temporal goods, and that we may have the reward of long-suffering in heaven.” And so, rejoicing in the hope of the things to come, they abstained from drinking, though they were in great need of it.
But in the evening when they were returning home, the tender father, having compassion on the weariness of the labourers, blessed a vessel filled with water: and now renewing the holy miracle in Cana of Galilee, he changed the water into the best wine. By this wine they, fainting from thirst, were revived; and revived in faith by the manifestation of an unwonted miracle, they gave praises to God Almighty. For the taste of this miraculous wine was more grateful than was wont, and its odour scented the thumb of the wine-drawer so long as he survived.
19. One day when he was going on a way, most infamous robbers, seizing him, began to shave the head of the blessed man. But what the frowardness of man wished to efface, the divine benevolence changed to the manifestation of a mighty miracle. For in the place of the shaved hairs other hairs grew forthwith. The robbers, thrown into consternation by this miracle, were changed to the way of truth, and at length, serving in the divine army under so great a leader, they finished their life in holy conversation.
20. At another time when the good shepherd was feeding his flocks, three poor men met him. To the first of these he made over his cape, to the second his cloak, to the third his tunic. But when they were going away there arrived certain men, leaders of a worldly life. As he was ashamed to be seen of these without raiment, the Lord Who helpeth in need so surrounded him with water that except his head no part of him could they see. But after these men had passed by the water soon disappeared.
21. After this when some time had passed, certain companions of the devil were trying to slay a man who dwelt near his monastery: whom, when the blessed man prayed for him, God marvellously rescued. For when they were slaughtering the man, they were striking on a stone statue. The robbers, when at last they perceived this, being pricked in the heart, hasten to the shepherd of souls, Queranus: they humbly acknowledge their crime; and, amending their way of life, they served faithfully under the yoke of Christ until death.
22. The most glorious soldier of Christ, shining with these and many other [miracles], like the luminary which presides over the day, as he reached the setting of his natural course, approached it, seized with grievous sickness. But because he who shall have endured unto the end shall be saved, so the champion of Christ, not only strengthening himself in the battle of this conflict, but also calling on souls to conquer, caused the stone, on which, supporting his head, he was wont until then to concede a little sleep to his body, to be placed even under his shoulders; then raising his holy hand he blessed the brethren, and, fortified by reception of the viaticum of salvation, gave back his soul to heaven. For as that blessed soul departed from the body, the choirs of angels with hymns and songs received it into the glory of God.
23. Also, when the most blessed abbot of Christ, Columba, heard of the death of Saint Keranus, he composed a notable hymn about him: and he brought it down with him to the monastery of Cluayn, where, as was fitting, he was received with hospitality in honour. Now as for the hymn, the abbot who was then presiding, and the others who had heard it, lauded it with many lofty praises. But when Saint Columba was departing thence, he took away with him earth from the sacred grave of Saint Keranus, knowing in the spirit how useful this would be against future perils of the sea. For in the part of the sea which bears towards the monastery of I, there is a very great danger to those who cross, partly because of the vehemence of the currents, and partly because of the narrowness of the sea; so that ships are whirled round and driven in a circle, and thus are often sunk. For it is rightly compared to Scylla and Charybdis; I mean that by its grave and unmitigated dangerousness, evil is there the lot of sailors. When they were coming to this strait, they suddenly began to glide into it in their course: and when they looked for nothing but death, and because they were as though apt to be devoured by the horrible jaws of the abyss, then Saint Columba taking some of the aforesaid dust that had been taken from the tomb of blessed Keranus, cast it into that sea. Then there befell a thing marvellous and worthy of great wonder; for sooner than it is told, that cruel storm ceased, and accorded them a quiet passage. Truly do the just live for ever; among whom blessed Queranus reigneth, the earth or dust of whose sepulchre stilled the sea, established in the Faith the hearts of those who feared, and strengthened them to good works. Wherefore blessed Keranus liveth not only for God, to whom he is inseparably bound, but also for men, on whom in time of need he bestoweth benefits.
1. As the mother of Quiaranus sat in a noisy carriage, a wizard heard the sound and said out to his attendant lads, “See ye who is in the carriage, for it soundeth under a king.” “The wife,” say they, “of Beodus the wright sitteth here.” The wizard says: “She shall bear a king acceptable to all, whose works shall shine like Phoebus in the sky.” The soldier of Christ, Keranus, a temple of the Holy Spirit, flourished in the virtue of spiritual piety.
2. He bestowed the sucking calf of a cow on a hound; then his mother severely upbraided Queranus. He asked the devoured calf from the hound itself, and presently bearing back its bones he restored it.
3. The bald head of a royal woman had been made bare by the envy of an evil concubine; when it was signed in the name of Queranus it shone adorned with golden hair.
4. When Queranus was occupied with sacred studies, and asked time that he might engage himself therein, then the mill is moved for him by angels.
5. The gospel text had fallen into a lake, but when time passed, by the merits of Queranus, a cow brought it back sound from the abyss.
6. When as a boy he was praying the Lord, and was spending his time in prayer, fire came from above in the citadel of the pole. The dead boy descried the lights of life, and the saints glorify the mighty Lord. Sparkling fire falling from heaven is kindled and forthwith he completes his especial duty.
7. To the high and ineffable company of apostles of the heavenly Jerusalem, the lofty watch-tower, sitting on thrones shining like the sun, Queranus the holy priest, the eminent messenger of Christ, is exalted by the heavenly hands of angels, with the happy clans of holy ones made perfect; whom Thou, Christ, hast sent as a man, an apostle to the world, glorious in all the latest times.
* * * * *
II. THE ORIGIN AND BIRTH OF CIARAN: THE WIZARD’S PROPHECIES
1. The blessed and venerable abbot Queranus was born of a noble and religious stock of the Scots, of a father Beoid, that is Boeus, by name, who was a cartwright, and of a mother Darerca; of these many saints were born. This man of God was prophesied of by Saint Patrick, fifty years before his birth. Moreover when his mother, sitting in a carriage one day, passed near the house of a certain wizard, the wizard, hearing the noise of the carriage said in prophecy, “The carriage soundeth under a king.” And when his folk went in surprise to see the truth of the matter, and beheld no one but the wife of Boeus in the carriage, they said in mockery, “Lo, the wife of Beoit sitteth in the carriage.” To whom the wizard said, “Not of her do I speak, but of the son whom she hath in her womb, who shall be a mighty king; and as the sun blazeth in mid-day, so shall he with miracles shine and illumine this island.” After this, as his father was being burdened under the taxes of Anmereus, that is Anmirech, leaving his native region he departed into the territory of the Conactei; and there in the plain of Ay he begat his blessed son Queranus, who was baptized and instructed by a certain holy man, Dermicius by name. And the holy boy, in manners beyond his years, worked many wonders.
2. So when the horse of the son of the king of that territory died by accident, he saw in a vision a shining man saying to him, “The holy boy Quieranus who liveth among you, can quicken thy horse. Present him with a reward for the health of thy horse, and he shall resuscitate him.” The royal youth, awakened from sleep, went to Queranus, and prayed him on behalf of the horse. The holy boy, without delay, blessed water, and when he poured it into the mouth of the horse it was restored to its former health. And when the king saw what was done, he made over an excellent field as a reward to Saint Quieranus.
3. At another time his mother upbraided him because, though the other boys collected honey for their mothers, he used to bring her no honey. But hearkening humbly to his mother, he went to a neighbouring spring, and carrying thence a vessel full of water, he blessed it, and it was changed into excellent honey.
4. On a certain other day some men, spurred by a malignant spirit, incited a most savage dog to devour the holy man. But Keranus trusting in the Lord, and fortifying himself with the buckler of prayer, said, “Deliver not the soul that trusteth in Thee unto beasts”; and soon the dog died.
5. When at another time he was feeding the herds of his parents, as men are wont to do, a cow brought forth a calf in his presence. But there came a hound consumed with leanness, seeking to fill his belly with what fell from the body of the mother along with the calf; and moved with compassion he said unto him, “Eat, poor wretch, yonder calf, for great is thy need of it.” The hound fulfilled the commands of Keranus, and ate the calf to the bones. As Keranus returned home to the house of his parents with the herds, the cow, recalling the calf to memory, went running about lowing. The mother of Keranus, recognising the cause of its lowing, said with indignation to the boy, “Restore the calf, Keranus, even though it be burnt with fire or drowned in the sea.” But he, obeying his mother, returned to the place where the calf had been devoured, collected the bones, and carried them with him and placed them before the mother [father, MS.], asking his God with diligence to hear his prayers for the resuscitation of the calf. And God hearkened to the holy one, and resuscitated the calf in the presence of his parents.
6. At another time there came robbers to him when he was feeding the herds of his parents, wishing to slay him, so that they might the more easily reave what they would. But God had regard to their attempt from on high, and so multiplied infirmities upon them that they turned in haste to God. For they were smitten with blindness, nor could they move hand or foot, till they wrought repentance, and were loosed by the merit of Saint Keranus: recovering the light of their eyes and the vigour of their other members.
7. It happened after this that he gave a cauldron belonging to the king, as he had nothing else to give to poor folk asking of him an alms. When the king heard what had been done, he was greatly enraged, and commanded his people to bring Saint Keranus to him in bonds. When he was led to the king, he gave sentence that he should be reduced to servitude, and be set apart for grinding at the quern. But God, having regard to the humiliation of His servant, caused the mill to be moved of itself without human hand, and left Ciaran free to chant his Psalms. After a few days coppersmiths from the land of the Mumunienses brought three cooking-pots with them, and offered them to Saint Keranus. Giving thanks for these to God, he was delivered from the yoke of servitude.
8. When on a certain day he was journeying alone, and the time of partaking of food had come, seeking one to bless for him he said “Benedic.” And as no one answered, he departed, fasting. On the following day, seeking one to bless and finding him not, he went on fasting in like manner. On the third day he went forth fasting, and being weary with the journey he lay down; and when he asked a benediction as was customary, a voice came from heaven and blessed his meal, and so, eating and giving thanks, he completed his journey.
9. One time when he was coming from the fields to the house certain strangers met him; and when he had asked them whence they had come, they said, “From the house of Boetius the wright.” And when he had again asked them how they had been refreshed there, they answered, “Not only got we no food, but the woman of the house heaped insults and abuse upon us.” But he, fired with the flames of charity, went to his father’s house, and cast whatsoever of food he found there into the mud, thinking that what was not offered to Christ, and that in which the pleasure of the devil was wrought, was corrupt and unclean and should not be eaten of any.
10. At another time when with his father he was sitting in a carriage, the axle of the carriage broke in two; but yet for the whole day they continued their journey safely, without any mishap.
11. After these things, having heard the renown of the holiness and sound doctrine of Saint Finnianus of Cluayn Hyrart, he desired to hasten to him as to a living fountain, and asked of his mother a cow, to yield him the food necessary to sustain life. When his mother refused his request, he went to the kine of his mother, trusting in his God, and blessed one of them in the name of God; and the cow, by the
12. At that time there were twelve very holy and reverend men reading in that school, and each of them on his day ground at the quern with his own hand, as was customary. But in the day of Saint Keranus the angels of God used to turn the quern for him.
13. At another time, when blessed Keranus had been in an island situated in Loch Eirne, in the school of a holy man; and it was a custom with the saints that three men should go out with an elder to bring in timber; it was the lot of Saint Keranus to go to the forest with three monks to cut timber. And when he was praying apart and the others were cutting wood, robbers came and slew those three monks, and cut off and carried away their heads with them. Saint Keranus, not hearing the sound of those who were hacking and hewing timber, returned from the place of prayer and found his three companions slain and decapitated. But the man of God, though first he grieved sorely over this deed, yet, recovering his power from Him Who deserteth not His own in their necessity, hastened after the murderers, and found them sweating to drag a little boat down to the water. But it was wondrously contrived that the skiff should weigh most heavily, like a ship, and with this their bodily strength wholly failed them. Then they turned themselves to the holy man, and begging pardon of him, they obtained it in mercy. And when as a price for their restored strength he obtained the heads of his companions from the robbers, he ran with them to the place where the bodies of the martyrs were lying, placed each of them respectively at the junction with its body, and restored them to life from death in the Name of the Holy Trinity. And as a sign of this unwonted miracle, so long as they lived there remained a blood-marked circle round their necks, that thereby the Faithful should be strengthened in the Faith and the infidels confuted. It endeth; Amen.
[Footnote 1: More humano: but is this an error for in quodam loco?]
* * * * *
I. THE HOMILETIC INTRODUCTION
1. Omnia quaecumque uultis ut faciant homines uobis, ita et uos faciatis illis, haec est enim lex et prophetae: “Every good thing that ye wish to be done unto you by men, let it be likewise that ye do to them, for that is Law and Prophecy.”
Now He Who prohibiteth every evil, Who proclaimeth every good, Who reconcileth God and man, Jesus Christ Son of the Living God, the Saviour of the whole world, He it is Who spake these words; to teach His apostles and His disciples and the whole Church concerning the covenant of charity; that men should do of good and of charity to their neighbour as much as they would do unto themselves. To that end saith Jesus, Omnia quaecumque uultis. Now Matthew son of Alphaeus, the eminent sage of the Hebrews, one of the four who expounded the Gospel of the Lord, he it is who wrote these words in the heart of his Gospel, saying after his Master Jesus, Omnia quaecumque.
Si ergo uos, cum sitis mali, nostis bona data dare filiis uestris, quanto magis Pater uester celestis dabit bona petentibus Se: That is, “If ye being men [sic] give good gifts to your children, much more shall the Heavenly Father give good to His children who ask Him.” It is after these words that Jesus spake this counsel, Omnia quaecumque, etc. For Law and Prophecy command us to give love to God and to the neighbour. Finis enim precepti caritas est, quia caritas propria et specialis uirtus est Christianorum. Nam caeterae uirtutes bonis et malis possunt esse communes; caritatem autem habere nisi perfecti non possunt. Vnde Iesus ait, “In hoc cognoscent omnes quod discipuli Mei estis, si dilexeritis inuicem." “For the roof and summit of divine doctrine is charity, because charity is the especial virtue of the Christians. For the other virtues may belong to good and to evil men alike; but none hath charity save good men only. Wherefore Jesus saith, ’Hereby shall all men recognise that ye are of My folk, if each of you loveth his fellow as I have loved you.’" Et iterum dixit Iesus: Hoc est preceptum meum ut diligatis inuicem sicut dilexi uos. “And thus said Jesus further: ’This is my counsel to you, that each of you love his fellow as I have loved you.’”
Many of the children of life, apostles and disciples of the Lord, have thenceforward fulfilled with zeal and with piety the counsel that Jesus gave them as to fulfilling charity; as he fulfilled and loved charity especially beyond all virtues, to wit the noble glorious apostle, the father confessor, the spark-flashing, the man through whom the west of the world shone with signs and wonders, with virtues and with good deeds, Sanctus Ciaranus sacerdos et apostolus Dei, the archpresbyter and apostle Saint Ciaran, son of the wright. Now he was son of the Wright Who formed heaven and earth with all that in them is, according to his heavenly genealogy; and son of the wright who used to frame carriages and all other handiworks beside, according to his earthly genealogy.
The date which the Faithful honour as the feast-day of this noble one is the fifth of the ides of September according to the day of the solar month, and this day to-day according to the day of the week.
Accordingly I shall relate a short memoir of the signs and wonders of that devout one, for a delight of soul to the Faithful; and of his earthly generation, and of his mode of life, and of the perfection which he gave to his victorious course in the earth. A man held greatly in honour of the Lord was this man. A man for whom God reserved his monastery, fifty years before his birth; a man whom Christ accounteth in the order of apostles in this world, as Colum Cille said—
Quem Tu Christe apostolum mundo misisti hominem.
A lamp was he, shining with the light of wisdom and doctrine, as Colum Cille said—
Lucerna huius insulae lucens luce mirabili.
A man who established a cathedral from which was drawn the effectiveness of rule, and wisdom, and doctrine, for all the churches of Ireland, as the same man of learning said—
Custodiantur regmina adcessione
edita Diuulgata per omnia
that is, “Let the rules and doctrines and customs which have been received from the master, from Ciaran, be kept by the elders of these monasteries; thus, these are the rules and customs that have been distributed and received of all the monasteries of saints of Ireland.” For it is from her [Clonmacnois] that are carried rules and precepts throughout Ireland.
He is a man whom the Lord accounteth of the order of chief prophets in this world, as the same prophet said—
Propheta qui nouissimus fuerit praesagminibus,
for it was by reason of his nobility and his reverence before the Lord that he was foretold of prophets long before his birth, as Isaac was foretold, and John the Baptist, and Jesus, which is something yet nobler. First Patrick son of Calpurn prophesied of him in Cruachan Aigli, after the tree had closed around his relics in the place where that settlement is now. Brigit prophesied of him when she saw the fire and the angel, fifty years before Ciaran, in the place where the Crosses of Brigit are to-day. Becc mac De prophesied, saying there—
Son of the wright
with choruses, with choirs,
In comely cloak,
with chariots, with chants.
Colum Cille prophesied in Ard Abla to Aed son of Brandub (or of Brenainn).
2. Now this is the genealogy of Ciaran—
Ciaran, son of Lairne, son of Bresal, son of Beoit " Cuiltre " Dega " Olchan " Gluinech " Reo-soirche, son of Dichu " Coirpre " Reo-doirche " Corc " Lug " Tigernmas " Cuindiu " Meidle " Follach " Cuinnid " Dub " Eithrial " Fiac " Lugna " Irel the prophet, son of Mael-Catrach, son of Feidlimid " Eremon " Laire " Echu " Mil of Spain.
Beoit son of Olchan of the Latharna of Mag Molt of the Ulaid was earthly father of Ciaran. Darerca daughter of Ercan son of Buachall was his mother, as Ciaran said—
Mother mine, a woman good,
she Darerca hight;
Father, of Molt’s Latharna
he was Beoit the wright.
Of the Ciarraige of Irluachra was his mother, that is, more especially, of the Glasraige. Glas the Poet was her grandfather. Now this was the cause of the coming together of those twain. When Beoit went to visit his brethren who were in the territory of Cenel Fiachrach, and when he saw the maiden Darerca before him, he asked for her of her [friends and her] parents, so that she was given him to wife. Thereafter she bore five sons to him, and this is the order in which they were born: Lucoll her firstborn, Donnan the second, Ciaran the third, Odran the fourth, Cronan the fifth—he was a deacon, but the other four sons were archpresbyters. Furthermore she bore three daughters to him; two of them were virgins, to wit Lugbec and Rathbeo; Pata was the third daughter, and she was a pious widow. These are the graveyards wherein are the relics of those saints; Lucholl and Odran in Isel Chiarain, Donnan and Ciaran in Cluain maccu Nois, Cronan the deacon and Beoit and the three daughters in Tech meic in tSaeir.
Now there was an impious king in the land of Ui Neill at that time, Ainmire son of Colgan his name. He impressed the tribelands and the septs under a grievous tax. So Beoit went, a-fleeing from that king, into the land of the Connachta, to Cremthann son of Lugaid son of Dallan King of Ireland, to Raith Cremthainn in Mag Ai. The day on which Ciaran was conceived was the sixth of the calends of June, and he was born on the sixth of the calends of March.
The birth of Ciaran was prophesied by Lugbrann the wizard of the aforesaid king. The wizard dixit—
Oengus’ steed he made alive,
while he yet in cradle rested;
God this marvel did contrive,
by Ciaran, in swathing vested.
One day when the wizard heard the sound of the carriage [he spake thus: “See, lads,” said he, “who is in the carriage]—for here is the sound of a carriage that bears a king.” When the lads went out they saw no one save Beoit and Darerca in the carriage. When the lads mocked the wizard, thus spake he: “The child who is in the womb of the woman,” said he, “shall be a great king: as the sun shineth among the stars of heaven, so shall he shine, in signs and wonders that cannot be related, upon the earth.”
Thereafter was Saint Ciaran born, in Mag Ai at Raith Cremthainn. He was baptized by deacon Iustus, for it was fitting that the true one should be baptized by a True One.
3. A certain day the horse of Oengus son of Cremthann died, and he had great sadness because of the death of his horse. Now when Oengus slumbered, an angel of God appeared to him in a dream, and thus he spake with him: “Ciaran son of the wright shall come, and shall raise thy horse for thee.” And this was fulfilled, for Ciaran came at the word of the angel, and blessed water, and it was put over the horse, and the horse arose from death forthwith. Then Oengus gifted a great land to God and to Ciaran in return for the raising of the horse; Tir-na Gabrai is the name of the land.
4. A certain day his mother upbraided him. “The little village lads,” said she, “bring with them honey out from the combs to their folks, but thou bringest it never to us.” When Ciaran heard that, he went to a certain spring, and he fills his vessel from it, and blesses it: so that it became choice honey, and he gives that honey to his mother; so she was thankful. That is the honey which was given to deacon Uis (= Iustus) as a fee for baptizing him.
5. A certain day evil men incited a savage hound against Ciaran, to tear him. When Ciaran saw the hound, he sang this verse: Ne tradas bestiis animam confitentem tibi. And when he said this the hound fell forthwith and did not rise again.
VI. HOW CIARAN AND HIS INSTRUCTOR CONVERSED THOUGH DISTANT FROM ONE ANOTHER
6. This was the labour that his parents used to lay upon him, namely, herding, after the likeness of David son of Jesse, and of Jacob, and of the elders thenceforth, for God knew that he would be a wise shepherd of great flocks, that is, the flocks of the Faithful. Thereafter a marvellous thing took place at Raith Cremthainn in Mag Ai: he was keeping the flocks of [his parents at Raith Cremthainn, and there was dwelling] his tutor, deacon Uis, at Fidharta, and there was a long space between them: yet he used to hear what his tutor was saying as though they were side by side.
7. Then there came a fox to Ciaran from out the wood, and behaved tamely with him. It would often visit him, so that he bade it do him a service, namely, to carry his book of Psalms between him and his teacher, deacon Uis. For when he would say in Fidharta, “Say this in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” Ciaran would hear in Raith Cremthainn, from that on to the end of the lesson; and the fox would be awaiting the lesson obediently till its writing on wax was completed, and thereafter he would carry it with him to Ciaran.
Once on a time his natural treacherousness broke forth in the fox, and he began to eat the book: for he was greedy for the leather that was bound around the book outside. While he was eating the book, there came Oengus son of Cremthann with kernes and with hounds, so that they chased him, and he found no sanctuary till he came under the cloak of Ciaran. The name of God and Ciaran’s were magnified by the rescue of the book from the fox and by the rescue of the fox from the hounds. The book is what is now called the “Tablet of Ciaran.”
Most consonant with these things is it for evil men who are near to the Church, and who profit by the advantages of the Church—communion, and baptism, and food, and teaching—and withal stay not from persecuting the Church, until there come upon themselves the persecution of some king, or mortality, or a disease unknown: and then they needs must flee under the protection of the Church, as the fox went under the cloak of Ciaran!
8. A certain day the mother of Ciaran was making blue dye, and she had reached the point of putting the garments therein. Then said his mother to him, “Get thee out, Ciaran.” For they thought it unbecoming that males should be in the house when garments were being dyed. “May there be a dun stripe upon them!” said Ciaran. Of all the garments that were put into the dye, there was not one that had not a dun stripe upon it. The dye is prepared again, and his mother said, “Go out, Ciaran, this time, and now, Ciaran, let there be no dun stripe.” Then he said—
White my mother’s dye let be!
When in my hand it’s gone,
Be it white as bone!
When boiling it is stirred,
Be it white as curd!
Accordingly every garment that was placed therein was of a uniform whiteness. For the third time is the dye made. “Ciaran,” said his mother, “hurt me not the dye now, but let it receive a blessing from thee.” When Ciaran blessed the dye, never was dye made so good, before or since; for though all the garments of Cenel Fiachrach (sic) were placed in its iarcain, it would turn them blue; and at the last it turned blue the dogs and the cats and the trees that came in contact with it.
9. Once he was tending kine. A miserable wolf came to him. Now this was a habitual expression with him, “Mercy on us.” [He said to the wolf in compassion] “Rise and devour the calf and break or eat not its bones.” The wolf went and did so. When the cow lowed a-seeking the calf, his mother spake thus to him: “Tell me, Ciaran, where is the calf of this cow? Let the calf be restored by thee, whatsoever death it has died.” Ciaran went to the place where the wolf had devoured the calf, and collected the bones of the calf, and brought them before the cow, and the calf arose and stood up. Ut dixit—
One day when, assiduously
Ciaran the kine was havening,
He a calf for charity
Gave to a wolf ravening.
10. A certain day there came robbers from Ui Failge to slay people [in the land] of Cenel Fiachach, and they found Saint Ciaran a-reading with his herds; and they went forward to slay him. But they were smitten with blindness, and could stir neither foot nor hand, till they wrought repentance, and were loosed by the word of God and of Ciaran.
11. Another time his father sent him to present a cauldron to the king, even to Furban. There met him poor men on the way, and [Ciaran] gifts the king’s cauldron to them. So he was put in bonds then, and slavery was imposed on him at the king’s hands; and this was the labour put upon him, to grind at the quern. Then great marvels came to pass, for when he went to grind at the quern, it would turn of itself, and did so continually. They were the angels of the Lord who used to grind for his sake. Not long thereafter there came smiths from the lands of Muma, with three cauldrons for Ciaran as an alms, and thus was Ciaran delivered from servitude to the king.
12. Now after those things Ciaran thought it time to go a-schooling to Findian of Cluain Iraird, to learn wisdom. He begged a cow of his mother and of his father, to take it with him to serve him. His mother said that she would not give it him. He blessed one of the kine, to wit the Dun Cow of Ciaran, as she was called thenceforward, and she went with her calf after Ciaran thence to Cluain Iraird. Afterwards he drew a line with his staff between them, for between them there was no fence, and the cow used to lick the calf and neither of them transgressed the mark. Now the milk of that cow used to be divided between the twelve bishops with their folk and their guests, and it was sufficient for them; ut dixit,
Ciaran’s Dun was wont to feed,
three times fifty men in all;
Guests and sick folk in their need,
in soller and in dining-hall.
The hide of the Dun is in Clonmacnois, and whatsoever soul parteth from its body from that hide [hath no portion in hell, and] dwelleth in eternal life.
13. Now there were the twelve bishops of Ireland in the school of Findian in Cluain Iraird, ut dixit,
Two Findians, holy Colums two,
Ciaran, Cainnech, Comgall fair;
Two Brenainns, Ruadan bright of hue,
Ninned, Mo-Bi, Mac Natfraeich there.
This was their rule, that every bishop should grind at the quern on his day. But angels used to grind at the quern for Ciaran’s sake on the day that was his.
14. The daughter of the King of Cualu was brought once upon a time to Findian to read her Psalms, after offering her virginity to God. Findian committed the maiden to Ciaran, so that it was with him that she used to read her Psalms. Now Ciaran saw naught of the body of the maiden, so long as they were together, save her feet only. As is verified in the stanza—
A maid, rich in stateliness
with Ciaran there was reading;
Of her form or shapeliness,
he was all unheeding.
15. There came then twelve lepers to Findian for their healing. Findian sent them to Ciaran. Ciaran welcomed them, and went with them westward from the cell, and tears a sod from the ground, so that a stream of pure water breaks forth from thence. He poured three waves of the water over each of them, so that they were healed forthwith.
16. Further, into that school there used to come a stag to Ciaran, and he would place his book on the horns of the stag. One day there Ciaran heard the bell. He arose suddenly at the sound of the bell, but still swifter was the arising of the stag, and it went off, with his book on its horns. Though that day and the following night were wet, and though the book was open, not a letter in it was moistened. The cleric arose on the morrow, and the stag came to him with his book uninjured.
17. Now into that school there came Ninned the Squinting, from the lochs of Erne, to read with Findian; and he had no book. “Seek a book,” said Findian. Ninned went a-searching round the school, and did not obtain a book from any of them. “Hast thou gone to the gentle youth on the north side of the lawn?” said Findian. “I shall go now,” said Ninned. Now when Ninned reached him, Ciaran was going over the central text of the book of Matthew: Omnia quaecumque uultis ut faciant homines uobis, ita et uos faciatis illis. “I have come for the loan of a book,” said Ninned. “Mercy on us,” said Ciaran, “for that do I read this, and this is what the text saith to me, that everything that I would that men should do to me, I should do to all. Take thou the book,” said Ciaran. On the morrow his companions asked of him, at the time of the lesson, where his book was. “He gave it to me,” said Ninned. “Let ‘Ciaran Half-Matthew’ be his name,” said one of the school. “Nay,” said Findian, “but Ciaran Half-Ireland; for his shall be half of Ireland, and ours the other half." As Findian said—
Holy Ciaran zealously under Findian studying pored; Half his book he left unread, half of Ireland his reward.
From this was the well-known saying Non legam Marcum quousque compleueram Mattheum carried to Rome, to Alexander.
18. Now it came to pass that there was scarcity of corn and sustenance in that school, so that it was necessary for a strong man of them in turn to protect the sack of grain that was being carried to the mill.
It happened that Ciaran, in his turn, was carrying a sack of oats to the mill. As he was opening the sack, he said, “O Lord,” said he, “I would that this were fine wheat, so that it were a great and a kindly and a pleasant satisfaction to the elders.” And so it came to pass: the angel of God took the mill in his hands, and he [Ciaran] was rendering his Psalms in purity of heart and mind, and the oats which were being put in were choice wheat as they were coming out.
Now the daughter of the bailiff of the mill came, amorous for Ciaran; and she gave her love to him, for fairer was he in form than any other of his time. “Most hard for thee is that," said Ciaran. “Is it not these things to which thou shouldest give heed—the passing of the world, and the Day of Judgment, and the pains of Hell to shun them, and the rewards of Heaven to earn them?” When the maiden went home, she tells that tale to her father and her mother. They came and offered the maiden to Ciaran. “If she sacrifice her virginity to God,” said Ciaran, “and if she serve Him, I will be in union with her.” Then the maiden offered her virginity to God and to Ciaran, and her folk offered their perpetual service and perpetual subjecthood to Ciaran from that onward.
When they went to their house, a portion was sent to Ciaran by them, to wit, three wheaten cakes, with their meed of suet and flesh, and a vessel full of ale. When the servants left it, and received a blessing, he said, “Mercy on us,” said he, “it is not right for us to eat of this, with exclusion of the other brethren.” Thereafter he cast all the food, after shredding it fine, upon the mill, and he cast the ale likewise, so that all was turned to fine flour.
When Ciaran perceived the servant spying on him at the roof-ridge, he spake a word against him, saying, “May the crane,” said he, “take thine eye out of thy head!" And so it came to pass; for a pet crane plucked his eye out of his head, so that it was on his cheek as he was going home. The bailiff came straightway with the servant, and they did obeisance to Ciaran, and he offered the mill with all its land to Ciaran for the healing of the lad. Ciaran laid his palm on the eye and put it in its place, and he made the sign of the cross upon it so that it became sound.
When he finished the grinding of the corn, four full sacks of consecrated wheat were there, by the grace of God and of Ciaran. When he reached his house with the wheat he made cakes for the elders. Now these cakes were the best ever given to them; for from the time when the mystic manna was received yonder by the sons of Israel, there was not received the like of that food. For in this wise was it, with the taste of every food of excellence, [both bread and flesh, and of every excellent drink] both wine and mead; so that it filled and healed all of them. For every man in sickness who was in the whole city, whosoever ate any of it was whole forthwith.
The elders did not observe the nocturn that night until prime on the morrow.
When Findian asked of Ciaran regarding the miracle that had taken place, Ciaran related from beginning to [end] how the mill and the land with its implements, or its men, had been offered to him as a gift; “and there for thee, Findian, is all that land,” said Ciaran. Then did Findian give his blessing fervently to Ciaran; ut dixit Findian—
Ciaran my little heart,
whom for holiness I love,
Princely lands shall be thy part,
favour, dearest, from above.
Ciaran, famous all around!
wealth and wisdom on thee pour!
So may, in thy Church renowned,
knowledge grow yet more and more.
Now this blessing was given fervently to Ciaran through his great love and spiritual exaltation. So that there he left half of the charity, and the nobility, and the wisdom, among the men of Ireland to Ciaran and his monastery. Moreover Ciaran left wealth to him and to his monastery, so that thence is the wealth of Findian.
That corn sufficed for the congregation of Findian for forty days with their nights; and a third part of it was stored up for sick folk, for it would heal every malady, and neither mouse nor worm dared to destroy it. [It endured a long time] until it turned at last to clay. And every disease for which it was given would be healed.
19. One day when Ciaran was collecting a band of reapers, there met him a youth named Cluain. “Help us at the reaping to-morrow,” said Ciaran. “I will,” said Cluain. But when Cluain went home he said to his folk, “Should one come from Ciaran for me,” said he, “say that I am sick.” When this was told to the lad who went to summon Cluain, he reported it to Ciaran. When Ciaran heard it he laughed, and he understood that Cluain was practising deception, for he was a prophet of God in truth. Now when the folk of Cluain went to awake him, thus they found him, without life. Sorely did his folk bewail him, and there came the people of the neighbourhood to ask them the cause of their weeping. “Cluain,” said they, “went to his bed in health, and now he is dead; and Ciaran hath slain him with his word, for that he went not to reap for him.” All those people go to Ciaran to intercede with him for the raising again of the dead: “we shall all,” said they, “reap for thee, and we shall give our labour and our service to thee and to God for ever, if thou raise the dead for us.” Then said Ciaran to his servant: “Rise,” said he, “and take my staff with thee to the dead, and make the sign of the cross with the staff on his breast, and speak this quatrain—
Cluain did say
He would reap with me today;
Living, by a dread disease,
Dead within his house he lay.”
Then Cluain arose forthwith and went with speed to Ciaran. “A blessing on thee, holy Ciaran,” said he, “good is what thou hast done for me; for I am grateful to have come from the many pains of hell. Now know we the profit of obedience, and the unprofit of disobedience, and we know in what great honour the Lord and the folk of Heaven hold thee.” Then he did obeisance to Ciaran, and gave him labour.
20. (a) Certain of the clerks asked of Findian which of them would lead the prayer when Findian should be no longer here. “Yonder youth [Ciaran] is he,” said Findian. “Thou givest the abbacy to him above us all,” said Brenainn. “It hath been given, it is given, it shall be given,” said Findian. All the saints except Colum Cille were envious because of this.
(b) Then certain of them asked which of the saints should have the greatest reward in heaven. “Mercy on us,” said Ciaran, “that will be made known in our habitations on earth.” Then Brenainn of Birra made a prophecy of him: “We shall take two habitations,” said Brenainn, “on two streams between chief cities, and the difference that shall be between the two streams shall be the difference between the size of the cities.”
(c) When it was time for Ciaran to depart from Cluain Iraird, after learning letters and wisdom, he left the Dun Cow with Saint Ninned; but he said that her hide should come to him afterwards, and Ciaran said further, “Though many be succoured by her milk, yet there shall be more to whom her hide will give succour.” And he said, “Every soul that parteth from its body from the hide of the Dun Cow shall not be pained in hell.”
(d) Findian saw a vision of him [Ciaran] and of Colum Cille, namely, two moons in the air with the colour of gold upon them. One of them went north-east over the sea, [and the other] over the middle of Ireland. That was Colum Cille, with the glory of his nobility and his good birth, and Ciaran with the glory of his charity and his mercy.
21. Thereafter Ciaran went to parley with the King of Ireland, Tuathal Moel-garb, to ask him for a slave-girl that he had. Ciaran put his hand on the quern for charity, and he promised that he would serve in the place of the girl. Then Tuathal gifted the girl to God and to Ciaran, and further he gave him his kingly apparel, and Ciaran gave it forthwith to poor folk.
22. One time Ciaran went to ask another slave-girl of King Furbaide. Then one man gifted him a cow as an alms, another gifted him a cloak, and another a kettle. Forthwith on the same day he gave them all to poor folk; and God gifted to Ciaran three gifts yet better, a cauldron instead of the kettle, twelve robes instead of the one robe, twelve kine instead of the one cow. When the king saw that, he gave him the slave-girl.
23. When the time came for Ciaran to bid farewell to his teacher, he offers to put his monastery at his service. “Nay,” said Ciaran, “sever not thy monastery for any save for God alone, Who hath given thee favour beyond us all.” ["The monastery I give thee,” said Findian.] Ciaran weeps, for he thought it noble of his teacher to offer him his monastery. “Well, then, let there be unity between us henceforth,” said Findian, “and let him who breaketh that unity have no part in earth or in heaven.” “Be it so,” said Ciaran. Then Ciaran went his way; and Colum Cille uttered this testimony of him—
A wondrous youth from us departs,
Ciaran, craftsman’s son;
Of greed, of pride, reviling, lust,
satire, he hath none.
24. Thereafter Ciaran went to Aran to hold converse with Enda, and Enda and Ciaran saw one and the same vision—a great fruitful tree beside a river in the middle of Ireland, a-sheltering the island of Ireland, and its fruit was going over the sea that was around the island outside, and the birds of the air were coming and taking of the fruit. Ciaran went and told the vision to Enda. Said Enda, “That great tree which thou hast seen is thyself; for thou art great before God and man, and Ireland shall be full of thine honour. This island shall be protected under the shadow of thy grace, and many shall be satisfied by the grace of thy fasting and of thy prayer. Rise therefore at the word of God, and go to the shore of the stream, and found a church there."
25. Once when he was in Aran a-drying corn in the kiln, and Lonan the Left-handed with him (one who ever was contradictious of Ciaran) they saw a ship foundering in their sight. “Methinks,” said Lonan, “yonder ship shall be drowned to-day and this kiln shall be burned with the greatness of the draught.” “Nay,” said Ciaran, “yonder ship shall be burned, and this kiln with its corn shall be drowned." And this was fulfilled; for the crew of the ship escaped, and the ship was cast on shore close to the kiln. The fire seized the kiln, and the ship is burned. A blast of wind struck the kiln and its corn into the sea, so that it was drowned, according to the word of Ciaran.
26. When Ciaran left Aran a poor man met him on the way. Ciaran gives him his linen cloak, and goes to Inis Cathaig to salute Senan. That he was in one mantle only was revealed to Senan, and he went to meet him, with a linen cloak under his armpit. And he said to Ciaran, “Is it not shame,” said he, “for a priest to travel without a cowl?” “Mercy on us,” said Ciaran, “God will have pity [on my nakedness]; there is a cloak for me under the covering of mine elder.”
27. When Ciaran arrived at Cluain maccu Nois he wished to send another cloak to Senan. The cloak was laid upon the stream of the Shannon, and it travelled without being wetted to the harbour of Inis Cathaig. Said Senan to his monks, “Rise and go to the sea, and ye shall find there a guest, which bring with you, with honour and dignity.” When the monks went out they found the cloak on the sea, dry, and they brought it with them to Senan, and offered an offering of thanks to the Lord. That is now called “Senan’s cloak.”
28. Thereafter he went to his brethren to Isel, and Cobthach son of Brecan gave Isel to God and to Ciaran; and he lived there with his brethren. One day when he was doing his lesson outside in the field, he went to attend upon his guests, and left his book open till morning under the rain; and not a damp drop fell upon the book.
Once Ciaran was sowing seed in Isel. A poor man came to him. Ciaran gives him a handful of the grain into his breast, and the grain was forthwith turned into gold. A chariot with its horses was gifted to Ciaran by Oengus son of Cremthann. Ciaran gave it to the poor man in exchange for the gold, and the gold turned into grain, and the field was sown with it.
29. Moreover there was a lake near Isel, and country-folk and despicable people used to occupy the island that was upon it. The noise and uproar of those worthless people used to cause disturbance for the clerics. Ciaran prayed to the Lord that the island should be removed from its place, and that was done. The place where it was in the lake is still to be seen as a memorial of that miracle.
30. As the brethren could not suffer the almsgiving of Ciaran, so great was it, and as they were envious of him, they said unto him, “Rise and depart from us,” said they, “for we cannot be in the same place.” Said Ciaran, “Had I been here,” said he, “though this spot be lowly (Isel) in situation, it would have been high in glory and in honour.” Then he said—
Although lowly, it were high,
Had not censure come me nigh;
Had I not been censured so,
It were high though it be low.
Then Ciaran put his books upon a wild stag; afterwards he accompanied the wild stag wheresoever it would go. The deer went forward to Inis Aingin. He went into the island and dwelt there.
31. Then his brethren came to him from every side. There was a certain archpresbyter in the island, Daniel his name. Of the British was he, and the devil incited him to be jealous of Ciaran. A royal cup with three birds of gold was given him by Ciaran as a token of forgiveness. The presbyter marvelled thereat, and repented, and did obeisance to Ciaran, and gave the island to him.
32. Once Ciaran was in Inis Aingin and he heard a cry in the port. He said to the brethren, “Rise and go for your future abbot.” When they reached the harbour they found no man save a weak unconsecrated youth. They tell that to Ciaran. “For all that, go again for him; it is clear to me from his voice that it is he who shall be abbot after me.” Thereafter the youth was brought into the island to Ciaran, and Ciaran tonsured him, and he read with him. That was Enna maccu Laigsi, a holy man, held in honour of the Lord; and it is he who was abbot after Ciaran.
33. It happened that the gospel of Ciaran fell into the lake from the hand of a heedless brother, and it was a long time in the lake. Upon a day in the time of summer the kine went into the water, so that the strap of the gospel attached itself to the hoof of one of the kine, and she brought it dry [from below] to haven. Thence is “Port of the Gospel” in Inis Aingin. When the gospel was opened it was in this wise—white and clean, dry, without the loss of a letter, through the grace of Ciaran.
34. A certain man of Corco Baiscind came to Ciaran, Donnan his name, brother’s son of Senan mac Gerginn; and he had the same mother as Senan. “What wouldest thou, or wherefore comest thou?” said Ciaran. “Seeking a place wherein to abide and to serve God.” Ciaran left Inis Aingin to Donnan. Donnan said, “Since thou hast a charity towards me, leave me somewhat of thy tokens and of thy treasures.” Ciaran leaves him his gospel—that which was recovered from the lake—and his bell, and his bearer Mael Odran. Three years and three months was Ciaran in Inis Aingin.
He came thereafter to Ard Manntain, close to the Shannon. When he saw the beauty of that place, thus he spake: “If we dwell here,” said he, “we shall have much of the wealth of the world, and there shall be few souls going to heaven from hence.”
Then he came to this town; Ard Tiprat was its name at that time. “Here will we stay, for there shall be many souls going to heaven from hence, and God and man shall visit this place for ever.”
On the eighth of the calends of February Ciaran settled in Cluain, the tenth day of the moon, a Saturday. Eight men went with him—Ciaran, Oengus, Mac Nisse, Cael-Cholum, Mo-Beoc, Mo-Lioc, Lugna maccu Moga Laim, Colman mac Nuin. Wondrous was that monastery, set up by Ciaran in Cluain with his eight men after coming from the waves of the water, as Noah son of Lamech took the world with his eight after coming from the waves of the Flood.
35. Then Ciaran set up the first post in Cluain, and Diarmait mac Cerrbheil along with him. Said Ciaran to Diarmait when they were planting the post, “Warrior, suffer my hand to be over thy hand, and thou shalt be over the men of Ireland in high-kingship.” “I permit it,” said Diarmait, “only give me a token thereof.” “I will,” said Ciaran; “though thou art solitary to-day, thou shalt be King of Ireland this time to-morrow.” That was verified; for Tuathal Moel-garb King of Ireland was slain that night, and Diarmait took the kingship of Ireland on the morrow, and he bestowed a hundred churches on Ciaran. Wherefore to prove that, it was said—
I’ll speak both choice and truly,
although thou now art lonely,
Thou shalt rule Ireland duly,
after one’s day’s space only.
The chosen Tuathal’s slaughter,
a crying without glory.
Thence is it said thereafter,
“That deed was of Mael-Moire.”
Without a court or slaughter,
great Diarmait Uisnech lifted;
A hundred fanes thereafter,
to God and Ciaran gifted.
Then was the post made fast; and Ciaran said in fixing it, “Be this,” said he, “in the eye of Tren.” Tren was a youth who was in the fortress of Cluain Ichtar, and who had adventured arrogance against him. Forthwith his one eye burst in his head, at the word of Ciaran.
36. One day the brethren were sore athirst, while they were reaping in Cluain. They send a messenger to the cleric, that water be brought to them in the field. Then Ciaran said, “If to-day they would endure thirst, it would procure great riches of the world for the brethren who would come after them.” “Truly,” said the brethren, “we prefer to exercise patience, whereby profit will be secured for ourselves, and advantage to the brethren who follow us; rather than to have satisfaction of our thirst to-day.”
A cask full of wine was brought from the land of the Franks to the steading, to Ciaran, in reward for their patience; and a fragment of that cask remained here till recently.
When the evening was come, Ciaran blessed a vessel full of water, and it was changed to choice wine, and was divided among the monks; so that there was no feast that excelled that feast. For the folk of Colum Cille came from I, after a long time, to this city. A feast was prepared for them, and it was noised abroad through the whole city that never before or since was there a feast its equal. Then an aged man who was in the house of the elders said, “I know,” said he, “a feast that was better than this feast. Better was the feast that Ciaran made for his monks when they were sore athirst, so that he changed water into wine for them. That it be no story without proof for you,” said the elder, “it was myself who divided that wine, and my thumb would go over the edge of the cup into the wine. Come and perceive now the savour of my thumb, which then was dipped into the wine.” They came and were all satisfied with the savour of that finger. And they said, “Better,” said they, “than any feast was that feast of which the savour remains after a long time on a finger. A blessing,” said they, “on Ciaran and a blessing on the Lord Who allotted every good thing to him.”
37. Crichid [sic] of Cluain, a servant of Ciaran, went to Saigir and stayed there a long time. The devil tempted him to quench the sacred fire which the monks had in the kitchen. Said Ciaran of Saigir, that he would not eat food till there should come guests who would bring him fire. Crichid then went from them a short distance outside the city, and wolves slew him, but did not injure his body. When Ciaran the wright’s son heard of the death of his attendant, he went to Ciaran of Saigir to seek for him. When he arrived, Ciaran of Saigir said, “First of all ye need water for your feet; but we have no fire to heat water for you. Let you as guests give us fire, for God hath decreed this for you.” Then Ciaran the wright’s son raised his hands to heaven, and made fervent prayer. When the prayer was finished, there came fire from heaven, and rested on his breast. He protected his breast from the fire, and carried it with him to the monastery. He cast from him the fire on to the floor, and it did not hurt so much as the fur of the robe of white linen which he was wearing.
Then he revived his servant who had died before that, and he ate food with them. The two Ciarans then made a covenant together. “The wealth of the world,” said Ciaran son of the wright, “be in great Saigir.” “Knowledge and dignity incorruptible be in Cluain maccu Nois,” said Ciaran of Saigir.
38. The soul of Ciaran was not more than seven months in this town before he went to heaven, on the ninth day of September. When Ciaran knew that the day of his death was drawing nigh, he made a prophecy with great sorrow. He said that great would be the persecution of his city from evil men towards the end of the world. “What then shall we do in the time of that crime?” said the monks; “is it by thy relics we shall stay, or shall we go elsewhere?” “Rise,” said Ciaran, “and leave my relics as the bones of a deer are left in the sun. For it is better for you to live with me in heaven than to stay here with my relics.”
When the time of his death was near to Saint Ciaran in the Little Church, in the thirty-third year of his age, on the fifth of the ides of September as regards the solar month, on Saturday as regards the day of the week, on the eighteenth day as regards the moon, he said, “Let me be carried out to the Little Height,” said he. And when he looked at heaven, and the height of air above his head, he said, “Awful is this road upward.” “Not for thee is it awful,” said the monks. “Truly, I know not,” said he, “any of the commandments of God which I have transgressed: yet even David son of Jesse, and Paul the apostle, dreaded this way.”
Then the stone pillow was taken from him, to ease him. “Nay,” said he, “put it under my shoulder. Qui enim perseuerauerit usque in finem, hic saluus erit.” Then angels filled the space between heaven and earth to receive his soul.
He was brought afterward into the Little Church, and he raised his hand and blessed his folk, and said to the brethren to shut the church upon him till Coemgen should come from Glenn da Locha.
39. When Coemgen came after three days, he received no full courtesy at first from the clerics, as they were in great sadness after their head. Said Coemgen to them, “Let a doleful countenance be upon you continually!” said he. Then fear took hold of the elders, and they did the will of Coemgen, and opened the Little Church to him. The spirit of Ciaran went at once to heaven, and he returned again into his body to converse with Coemgen, and welcomed him. From one canonical hour to the next they were there in converse, and making a covenant. Thereafter Ciaran blessed Coemgen, and Coemgen blessed water and made a communion with Ciaran. And Ciaran gave his bell to Coemgen as a sign of their league and as a fee for their communion. That is what is now called the Boban of Coemgen.
40. The saints of Ireland were envious of Ciaran for his excellence, and they put their trust in the King of Heaven that his life might be shortened. So great was their envy against him that even his comrade Colum Cille said, “Blessed be God,” said he, “Who hath taken Saint Ciaran. For had he lived to old age, there would not have been the place of two chariot-horses found in Ireland that would not have been his.”
41. Here then is Ciaran with the eight men whom I have mentioned, and many thousands of saints besides. Here are the relics of Paul and Peter, which Benen and Cumlach left in the hollow tree here. Here are the relics of the blind boy, the disciple of Peca. Here is the shrine of the guest Peca, whom a certain devout man saw borne by angels to the burial of Ciaran. There were three wonders here that night: the guest-house being without fire, without guest, without prayer, for Peca was sufficient of fire, and guest, and prayer.
There is not one to relate completely what God wrought of signs and wonders for this holy Ciaran; for they are more than can be told or mentioned. For after the coming of Christ in the flesh there was not one born greater in almsgiving and mercy, greater in labour and fasting and prayer, greater in humility and fervour of good-will, greater in courtesy and mildness, greater in care for the Church of God, greater in daily labour and in nightly vigil.
He it is who never put tasty food or heady drink into his body, from the time when he embraced the religious life. He it is who never drank milk or ale, till a third of it was water. He it is who never ate bread, till a third part of sand was mixed with it. He it is who never slept save with his side on the bare ground. Beneath his head was never aught save a stone for a pillow. Next his skin never came flaxen or woollen stuff.
A man with choice voluntary full offerings to the Lord, like Abel son of Adam. A man with zealous entreaties to God, like Enoch son of Jared. A steersman full-sufficient for the ark of the Church among the waves of the world, like Noah son of Lamech. A true pilgrim with strength of faith and belief, like Abraham son of Terah. A man loving, gentle, forgiving of heart, like Moses son of Amram. A man patient and steadfast in enduring suffering and trouble, like suffering Job. A psalmist full-tuneful, full-delightful to God, like David son of Jesse. A dwelling of true wisdom and knowledge like Solomon son of David. A rock immovable whereon is founded the Church, like Peter the apostle. A chief universal teacher and a chosen vessel for proclaiming truth, like Paul the apostle. A man full of the grace of the Holy Spirit and of chastity, like John the breast-fosterling.
A man full of likeness in many ways to Jesus Christ the Head of all things. For this man made wine of water for his folk and his guests in this city, as Jesus made choice wine of water at the feast of Cana of Galilee. This man is called “son of the wright,” as Christ is called “Son of the wright” in the Gospel (hic est Filius fabri, that is, of Joseph). Thirty-three years in the age of this man, as there are thirty-three years in the age of Christ. This man arose after three days in his bed in Cluain to converse with and to comfort Coemgen, as Christ arose after three days from the grave in Jerusalem, to comfort and strengthen His mother and His disciples.
So for these good things, and for many others, is his soul among the folk of heaven. His remains and relics are here with honour and renown, with daily wonders and miracles. And though great is his honour just now in this manner, greater shall be his honour in the holy incorruptible union of his body and his soul in the great assembly of Judgment, when Saint Ciaran shall be judge of the fruit of his labour along with Christ Whom he served. So shall he be in the great assembly, in the unity of holy fathers and prophets, in the unity of apostles and disciples of the Saviour Jesus Christ, in the unity of the nine grades of angels that have transgressed not, in the unity of the Godhead and Manhood of the Son of God, in the unity nobler than every other unity, the Unity of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I beseech the mercy of the Lofty Omnipotent God, by the intercession of Saint Ciaran, that we may reach that unity. May we dwell there, in saecula saeculorum!
[Footnote 1: Following the reading cordus in the Leabhar Breac text of the Homily from which this section is an extract, instead of the unintelligible comhlud of the MSS. of the Life.]
[Footnote 2: This Latin extract in the Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 3: In this paragraph the less corrupt Brussels text is followed. In the original the Latin passages, here printed consecutively, are interspersed sentence by sentence with the Irish translation here rendered into English.]
[Footnote 4: This is the apparent sense of the passage: the MSS. are here corrupt.]
[Footnote 5: Only the first two words of this extract in the Lismore MS. The Brussels MS. erroneously repeats reg[i]mina after Diuulgata.]
[Footnote 6: The last two words in the Brussels MS. only, which also adds “of the Elements” after “Lord,” two lines further down.]
[Footnote 7: Following the Brussels MS.: the Lismore text is here again corrupt.]
[Footnote 8: The bracketed words in the Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 9: The bracketed words in the Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 10: The bracketed words represent the sense of a passage that has evidently dropped out of the MSS.]
[Footnote 11: Sic MSS.: we should read “Iustus.”]
[Footnote 12: The Lismore text is slightly imperfect in this paragraph: it is completed with the aid of the Brussels MS.]
[Footnote 13: This represents the sense of a passage that must have dropped out.]
[Footnote 14: Ut dixit and the stanza following in the Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 15: Bracketed words in the Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 16: In Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 17: Emending the dia fhoglaim of the text ("as he was learning”) to dia fhognam.]
[Footnote 18: These words in the Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 19: “Apostle” in the Brussels MS.]
[Footnote 20: From “as is verified” to the end of the stanza in the Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 21: The Lismore MS. is here illegible: the rendering follows the Brussels MS.]
[Footnote 22: The Lismore MS. is here illegible: the translation follows the Brussels MS.]
[Footnote 23: The Brussels MS. adds “and may it be on thy cheek as thou goest to thy house.”]
[Footnote 24: Bracketed words represent the sense of a passage evidently lost from the MSS.]
[Footnote 25: Literally “intoxication.”]
[Footnote 26: In Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 27: The bracketed words in the Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 28: The MSS. read “Findian.”]
[Footnote 29: These words in the Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 30: In this incident again it is necessary to follow the Brussels MS. in places, as the Lismore MS. is corrupt and unintelligible.]
[Footnote 31: Literally “’tis a drowning that shall drown this kiln.”]
[Footnote 32: These words in the Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 33: In Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 34: This name in the Brussels MS. only.]
[Footnote 35: Here the Brussels MS. is corrupt.]
[Footnote 36: Sic MSS. We should read “came from heaven,”]
* * * * *
I. THE HOMILETIC INTRODUCTION (VG)
The three Latin lives plunge in medias res at the beginning; but VG prefixes an introduction borrowed from a Homily on Charity. The Irish text of this homily, with the original Latin, will be found printed from the fifteenth-century MS. called Leabhar Breac ("The speckled book”) in Atkinson’s Passions and Homilies (Dublin 1887). The text announced by the preacher is clearly suggested by incident XXII. It has already been shown in the Introduction, that this Life, with its homiletic preface, was a sermon written to be preached or read on the festival of the saint (9th September) at Clonmacnois.
The keynote of the Irish homily is struck in this first section. It is the work of some scholar of Clonmacnois, with a warm enthusiasm for the dignity of his alma mater. The sermon is as much a eulogy of Clonmacnois as of Ciaran. In the preacher’s view, Clonmacnois is the chief and central church of Ireland, and the source of all ecclesiastical discipline in the country. Its founder excelled his fellow-saints as the sun excels the stars (Sec. 2). His pre-eminence was recognised by angels, who relieved him of labour when his turn came (Sec. 13): and on several occasions Findian showed a like favouritism (Sec.Sec. 18, 20, a, d, 23). Clonmacnois was superior to the rival house at Birr (Sec. 20 b); and possessed in the hide of the Dun Cow an infallible passport to heaven (Sec. 20 c). The vision of the tree seen by Enda and by Ciaran prophesied the pre-eminence of Clonmacnois (Sec. 24). The other saints were envious of his renown and of the glory of his monastery (Sec. 40).
The Hymn of Colum Cille.—Following the usual practice of Irish prose literary composition, the homilist intersperses his work throughout with verse extracts, appealed to as the authority for the various statements which he has occasion to make. In the present section he draws upon a hymn made by Colum Cille in honour of Ciaran. To this hymn, and to its surviving fragments, we shall return in commenting upon incident LI, where the composition of the hymn is alluded to.
The Ante-natal Prophecies.—Patrick is said also to have prophesied the advent of Senan (LL, 1845) and of Alban (CS, 505); and Becc mac De that of Brenainn (LL, 3343). But the parallels drawn between the Life of Ciaran and that of Christ have made such prophecies especially appropriate in the present case.
The prophecy of Saint Patrick took place under the following circumstances (VTP, p. 84 ff.). The leper whom, in accordance with a custom frequent in early Irish monasticism, Patrick is said to have maintained—partly for charity and partly for self-abasement—departed from Patrick when the latter was on the holy mountain of Cruachan Aigli (Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo). He made his way to the then empty site of Clonmacnois, and sat in the split trunk of a hollow elm tree.
It is quite clear that this curious story has reached us in a fragmentary and expurgated form, and that if we had the whole narrative before us it would afford us an indication that Clonmacnois was the site of an earlier, Pagan, sanctuary. It will most probably be found to be an invariable rule that the early Christian establishments in Ireland occupy the sites of Pagan sanctuaries; the monastery having been founded to re-consecrate the holy place to the True Faith. The hollow elm was doubtless a sacred tree; the well which miraculously burst forth was a sacred well: the buried leper may have been a foundation sacrifice, like Oran on Iona. The old pre-Christian name of the site is suggestive—Ard Tiprat, “the high place of the [holy] well.” By no stretch of language can the site of Clonmacnois be called physically high; as in the stanza quoted in VG 30, the word Ard must be used in the sense of distinguished, eminent, or sacred.
Of the prophecy attributed to Brigit there appears to be no record in any of her numerous Lives: nor can I identify with certainty the story of “the fire and the angel.” There were “Crosses of Brigit” at Armagh; but as there were probably many other crosses throughout the country dedicated to this popular saint we cannot infer that Armagh was the scene of the prophecy.
Becc mac De was chief soothsayer to King Diarmait mac Cerrbeil. Very little is certainly known of him; most of the traditions relating to him consist of tales of his remarkable gift of foretelling the future—tales similar to those related of the Covenanter Alexander Peden in Scotland, or of the seventeenth-century Mayo peasant Red Brian Carabine. He died in or about the year A.D. 555 (the annalists waver between 552 and 557); and the Annals of Clonmacnois tell us that he began to prophesy in 550. As Ciaran is said to have died in 548, the statement that Becc mac De foretold his coming is anachronistic. The prophecy here attributed to him does not appear in the list of prognostications attributed to him (given in the MS. Harleian 5280, British Museum, edited in Zeitschrift fuer Celtische Philologie, ix, 169), or in Leabhar Breac, p. 260, where some further particulars about him are given.
I have ventured to emend the passage regarding Becc mac De slightly, restoring the verse form which the prophecy seems to have had originally. As it appears in the Lismore Lives printed text it is given in prose; an insignificant transposition of the words, and the taking of the word andsin out of the inverted commas is all that is necessary. In the rendering in the text an attempt is made to reproduce to some extent the elaboration of alliteration, but the end-rhymes and the vowel-assonances cannot be imitated without sacrificing the sense. The metre resembles that known as mibhasc (four-syllable and six-syllable lines alternating, but with trisyllabic rhyme in the short lines).
The person to whom Colum Cille uttered his prophecy was Aed mac Brenainn, Prince of Tethba (Teffia), the region comprising various baronies in the modern Co. Westmeath and part of Co. Longford. This Aed gave Dermag (Durrow) to Colum Cille a few years before the latter’s departure for Scotland. There is, however, no record of the prophecy in the lives of Colum Cille; probably his visit to Clonmacnois from Durrow is in the writer’s mind. Ard Abla, identified by O’Donovan with Lissardowlin, Co. Longford, was in the territory of Tethba. The Lismore scribe has written the name of Aed’s father incorrectly (Brandub); the correction ("or Brenainn”) is a marginal note.
II. THE ORIGIN AND BIRTH OF CIARAN: THE WIZARD’S PROPHECIES (LA, LB, LC, VG)
The Pedigree (VG).—The pedigree in VG traces Ciaran’s descent from Tigernmas, fabled to have reigned in Tara 3580-3657 Anno Mundi (1620-1543 B.C.). Through Tigernmas the line is traced to Mil of Spain, the eponymous ancestor of the “Milesians,” or Celtic-speaking inhabitants of Ireland.
There is another pedigree, totally different, which connects the saint, not with the Tara kings, but with those of the Ulaid or Ulster folk, through the dethroned Fergus who figures so prominently in the epic tale Tain Bo Cualnge. This pedigree appears in the Book of Leinster (facsimile, pp. 348, 349) and Leabhar Breac (facsimile, p. 16), the Bodleian MS. Rawlinson B 506, p. 154 d, and in the MS. in Marsh’s Library containing LA, at the foot of the column where LA begins; with an added note stating that Ciaran was “of the true Ultonains of Emain”: its authenticity is adopted by Keating (I.T.S. edition, vol. iii, p. 48). Correcting one copy with another this genealogy runs as follows—
Ciaran son of Coscrach son of Aislithe son of Beodan " Mesinsuad " Modruad " Bolcan " Mesinsulad " Follomain " Linned " Erce " Deoda " Corc " Erc (or Oscar) " Eochaid " Daig " Mechon " Corc " Cunneda " Nechtan " Fergus " Cass " Aed Corb " Ros " Froech " Aed Gnoe " Rudraige
Thus both genealogies claim a royal descent for the saint. This is an instance of a widespread policy, of which many traces are to be found in the old Irish Genealogies. The whole country was divided into territories of different clans, under which were subordinate and tributary septs. The latter bore the chief burden of taxation; and they were for the greater part composed of descendants of the aboriginal pre-Celtic tribes, who had been reduced to vassalage on the coming of the Celtic-speaking invaders (about the third or fourth century B.C.). When a tributary sept became strong enough to resist the pressure of these imposts, exemption was claimed by a sort of legal fiction, by which they were genealogically affiliated to the ruling sept. This practice led to the fabrication of spurious links, and even of whole pedigrees.
In point of fact several indications show that Ciaran belonged to a tributary sept, and was of pre-Celtic blood. These tributary septs were distinguished from their Celtic conquerors by social organisation, racial character, and probably still to some extent by religion and language. They had much the same position as the perioeci in ancient Sparta. The following are the evidences of his pre-Celtic nationality—
(a) The tribal names of his parents (Latharna, Glasraige). There are two forms of tribal names in ancient Ireland; those consisting of two words, and those consisting of one. The first are in such formulae as “tribe of NN,” “seed of NN” or the like—NN being the name of a more or less legendary ancestor. The second are either simple names which cannot be analysed, or else are derived from an ancestral name by adding the suffix _-rige_ or _-raige_. As a rule the names consisting of one word only are fundamentally pre-Celtic, or denote pre-Celtic septs, though in many cases they have been fitted with Celticising genealogies.
(b) The names of Ciaran himself and his brothers, and of one of his sisters. Donnan, Ciaran, Odran, Cronan are all diminutives founded upon colours—the little brown, black, grey, and tawny one. These indicate that the family was dark complexioned, which would also accord with a pre-Celtic origin. The Celts were fair, their predecessors dark. One of the sisters was called Pata, with an initial P. This is impossible in a Gaelic name.
(c) The subordinate position of Ciaran’s father, and his liability to taxation. In the Book of Leinster and, in part, in Leabhar Breac, after the genealogy, we read “He [i.e. Ciaran] was of one of the seven clans of the Latharna of Molt. His father was originally in slavery in Britain; he went thereafter to Ireland to Cenel Conaill [north of Co. Donegal], and after that to Connacht to avoid a heavy tax, so that Ciaran was born at Raith Cremthainn in Mag Ai.” LA describes Ciaran’s father as “a rich man,” and certainly the family seems to have been comfortably provided with cattle, the chief wealth of their time. In reference to his father’s trade Ciaran is regularly called mac in tsair, “son of the wright.” The Rabelaisian extravaganza called Imtheacht na Tromdhaimhe ("The Adventures of the Burdensome Company”) introduces Ciaran as himself practising smith’s craft; but no importance can be attached to so irresponsible a production. Analogous in this respect are the references to our saint in The Adventures of Leithin, which also introduces Ciaran and his monks; but as Dr. Hyde points out in his edition, these are merely a kind of framework for the legend, and the story, though in itself extremely curious and interesting, tells us nothing about either Ciaran or Clonmacnois.
(d) The fact, specially mentioned in LA, that Ciaran was reared by his parents, not put out to fosterage as would have been done had he been of gentle birth.
(e) The pre-eminent position of Ciaran’s mother in the home. The pre-Celtic tribesmen of Ireland, like their Pictish kinsmen in Scotland, were organised on the system of mother-right, in which property and descent and kinship are all traced through the maternal side of the ancestry. Throughout the Lives, Beoit is a cypher: the house and its contents and appurtenances are almost invariably treated as Darerca’s property. Matriarchate usually implies exogamy, a man choosing his wife from a sept differing from his own; and the children are related to the mother’s, not the father’s kin. The male responsible for the education of the child is not so much the father as the maternal uncle. The law of exogamy was strictly followed in the case before us. Beoit comes from north-east Ulster; Darerca belonged to a family which drew its origin from the south-east of the present county Kerry, though she seems to have settled in Cenel Fiachach at the time when Beoit met her. Incidents VIII
It is possible that the prominence of the mother in the household, and Ciaran’s birth away from his ancestral home as the result of a taxation, are specially emphasised because they offer obvious parallels with the Gospel story. The character of Darerca is, however, by no means idealised, as we might have expected it to be, had this been the chief purpose of the narrator.
The Parents of Ciaran, their Names and Origins.—The name of Ciaran’s father is variously Latinised in the Latin Lives. The Irish lives call him Beoit, a name analysed in the Book of Leinster, p. 349, into Beo-n-Aed, which would mean something like “Living Fire.” The _-n-_ is inserted, according to a law of Old Irish accidence, because aed, “fire,” is a neuter word. Thus arises the Latin form Beonnadus. By metathesis the name further becomes transformed to Beodan or Beoan. The Latharna were the people who dwelt around the site of the modern town of Larne, which preserves their name; Mag Molt ("the plain of wethers”) is probably the plain surrounding the town. The Aradenses, to whom LB ascribes the origin of Beoit, were the people known in Irish record as Dal n-Araide, the pre-Celtic people of the region now called Antrim.
Dar-erca, “daughter of brightness” or “of the sky,” was a common female name in ancient Ireland. The Glasraige to whom she belonged was a tribe with divisions scattered in various parts of Ireland. Irluachra was south-east Kerry with adjoining parts of Cork and Limerick. Of her poet grandfather Glas nothing is known.
It would perhaps be too far-fetched to see a hint at a mythological element in the traditions of Ciaran in the signification of his parents’ names. Indeed, considering the Tendenz of the Ciaran Lives, it is remarkable that there is no supernormal element in the account of the birth of this particular saint; supernatural births are almost a commonplace in Irish saints’ lives as a rule.
The saint’s own name is regularly spelt with an initial K or Q in the Latin texts, doubtless because Latin c was pronounced as s before e and i in mediaeval Ireland.
The Annals of Clonmacnois preserves for us a totally different tradition of the origin and upbringing of the saint. Modernising the haphazard spelling and punctuation of the seventeenth-century English translation (the original Irish of this valuable book is lost), we may note what it tells us. “His father’s name was Beoit, a Connacht man (sic) and a carpenter. His mother Darerca, of the issue of Corc mac Fergusa mic Roig of the Clanna Rudraige. He in his childhood lived with his father and mother in ‘Templevickinloyhe’ [wherever that may have been] in Cenel Fiachach; until a thief of the country of Ui Failge stole the one cow they had, which, being found, he forsook together with his father and mother the said place of the stealth [= theft], fearing of further inconvenience.” Here note: (1) that Darerca is given the ancestry attributed in the Book of Leinster pedigree to Beoit, thus hinting at an originally matrilinear form of the official pedigree: (2) that the settlement of the family in Cenel Fiachach, i.e. the place of Darerca’s dwelling, is definitely stated; (3) that the migration of the family does not take place till after Ciaran’s birth; (4) that a totally different reason is assigned for the migration; (5) that incident X of the Lives is directly referred to; (6) that we hear nothing in this passage about the rest of the numerous family of Beoit; and (7) that the family is poor, having but one cow.
Cenel Fiachach (the clan of Fiachu) occupied a territory covering parts of the present counties of Westmeath and King’s Co. VG erroneously writes this Cenel Fiachrach, which occupied a territory of the modern Co. Sligo. See further, p. 171.
The Princes.—Unfortunately Ainmire mac Colgain, lord of Ui Neill, and Cremthann, a chieftain of Connacht, are not otherwise known; we cannot therefore test the chronological truth of this part of the story. Ainmire reappears as an oppressor in the life of Aed (VSH, ii, 295). LA anachronistically confuses this Ainmire with Ainmire mac Setna, King of Tara, A.D. 564-566.
It is noteworthy that VG calls Cremthann “King of Ireland.” This is in accordance with the fact that the dynasty which united Ireland under the suzerainty of the King of Tara was of Connacht origin.
The Wizard’s Prophecy.—The phrase “the noise of a chariot under a king” is a stock formula in this connexion; compare, with Stokes, Vita Sancti Aedui in Rees’ Lives of Cambro-British Saints, p. 233 (also VSH, ii, 295). With the incident compare the story of the druid rising to welcome the parents of Saint Senan, and when ridiculed for thus showing honour to peasants explaining that it was to their unborn child that he was paying honour (LL, 1875). Observe that in both tales the druid is mocked. This touch doubtless belongs to the Christian chronicler, taking the opportunity of putting the minister of the rival creed in an invidious position.
Deacon Iustus, according to VTP (p. 104) and Tirechan’s Collections regarding Saint Patrick (edited in VTP, see pp. 305, 318) was consecrated by Saint Patrick, who left with him his ritual book and his office of baptism, in Fidarta (Fuerty, Co. Roscommon). It was in his old age that he baptized Ciaran, out of Patrick’s book—he was, indeed, according to the documents quoted, no less than 140 years of age. The glossators of the Martyrology of Oengus (Henry Bradshaw Society edition, p. 128) confuse him with Euthymius, the deacon, martyred at Alexandria. The play on words ("it were fitting that the just one should be baptized by a Just One”) is lost in the Irish version, whence Plummer (VSH, i, p. xlix) infers that this document is a translation from a Latin original: but the fact proves nothing more than that the author of VG borrowed this particular incident, as he borrowed his preface, from a Latin writing. All these Lives are patchworks, and their component elements are of very different origins and dates.
The date of Ciaran’s birth was 25 February, A.D. 515. The Annals of Ulster says 511, or “according to another book,” 516. The Annals of Clonmacnois has the correct date, 515.
The Geographical Names in this Incident.—Temoria (LA) is Tara (Irish Teamair), Co. Meath, the site of the dwelling of the Kings of Ireland. Midhe (LA) means the province of Meath; LA is, however, in error in placing the Latronenses therein. The Connachta are the people who give their name to the province of Connacht. Mag Ai, variously spelt, is the central plain of Co. Roscommon; Raith Cremthainn ("the fort of Cremthann”) was somewhere upon it, presumably near the royal establishment of Rathcroghan, but the exact site is unknown. Isel Chiarain (VG), a place reappearing later in the Life, is unknown, but doubtless it was close to Clonmacnois. Cluain maccu Nois, the “Meadow of the Descendants of Nos,” now Clonmacnois, stands on the right bank of the Shannon about twelve miles below Athlone. Extensive remains of the monastery founded by Ciaran are still to be seen there. As for Tech meic in tSaeir, “the house of the wright’s son,” we might have inferred that this place was also somewhere near or in Clonmacnois; but a note among the glosses of the Martyrology of Oengus (under 9th September) says that it was “in the house of the son of the wright” that Ciaran was brought up. It is therefore to be identified with the mysterious place corruptly spelt “Templevickinloyhe” (church of the son of the ——?) in the extract from the Annals of Clonmacnois printed above.
The Verses in this Section of VG.—The epigram on Ciaran’s parents is found in many MSS. The rendering here given expresses the sense and reproduces the rhythm of the stanza, but does not attempt to copy the metre in every detail. This is known as cro cummaisc etir casbairdne ocus lethrannaigecht, and consists of seven-syllable lines with trisyllabic rhymes, alternating with five-syllable lines having monosyllabic rhymes. Literally translated the sense would run, “Darerca my mother / she was not a bad woman // Beoit the wright my father / of the Latharna of Molt.”
The second stanza is misplaced, and should properly have been inserted in the following paragraph. Its metre is ae freslige—seven-syllable lines in a quatrain, rhyming abab: a being trisyllabic, b dissyllabic rhymes. The stanza is obscure and probably corrupt; so far as it can be rendered at all, the literal translation is: “He healed the steed of Oengus / when he was in a swathe, in a cradle // there was given ... / from God this miracle to Ciaran.”
The Four Versions.—This incident is told in all four lives, and it is instructive to note the differences of detail which they display. In LA Oengus goes to fetch Ciaran, after consulting with his friends. In LB he sends for him. In LC he goes to him, and in VG Ciaran comes without being fetched. The stanza interpolated in the preceding section of VG introduces us to another variant of the tradition, in which Ciaran was a swaddled infant when the miracle was wrought. In LB the incident is given a homiletic turn, by being told to illustrate the saint’s care for animals.
Parallels.—A similar but not identical miracle is attributed to Saint Patrick (VTP, 228; LL, 565). Here the saint resuscitates horses with holy water; but in this case the saint’s own curse had originally caused the horses’ deaths, because they grazed in his churchyard. Saint Lasrian also restored a horse to life (CS, 796).
Tir na Gabrai ("the land of the horse”) is unknown, though it presumably was near Raith Cremthainn. The story was probably told to account for the name of the field. It has been noticed that the Latin Lives are less rich in details as to names of places and people than the Irish Life. This is an indication of a later tradition, when the recollection of names had become vague, or, rather, when names which had been of interest to their contemporaries had ceased to rouse such feelings.
One of the numerous imitations of the story of the
Miracle of Cana.
Compare incident XLIV. An identical story is told of Saint Patrick
(LL, 108). Note the variety of reasons given for sending the honey to
Parallels.—The same story is told of Saint Patrick, in Colgan’s Tertia Vita, cap. xxxi, Septima Vita, I, cap. xlvii. Patrick likewise quoted the verse Ne tradas bestiis animus confitentes tibi (Ps. lxiv, [Vulgate lxiii] 19).
The Fate of the Hound.—This varies in the different versions. In the Patrick story just quoted it was struck immovable, as a stone. In LA it thrusts its head in circo uituli, which I have rendered conjecturally as the context seems to require, but I can find no information as to the exact nature of this adjunct to the cattle-stall. Du Cange gives arcus sellae equestris as one of the meanings of circus.
LB and LC, which have many points of affinity, are in this incident almost word for word identical. They agree in saying that the men setting on the hound were spurred (uexati) by an evil spirit. The misplacing of this incident in LB is probably due to a transposition of the leaves of the exemplar from which it was copied.
VI. HOW CIARAN AND HIS INSTRUCTOR CONVERSED, THOUGH DISTANT FROM ONE ANOTHER (LA, VG)
Topography of the Story.—Assuming that Raith Cremthainn was somewhere near Rathcroghan, the distance between this and Fuerty would be about fourteen miles. There is no indication on the Ordnance map of any rock that can be identified with the cross-bearing stone on which Ciaran used to sit, though it clearly was a landmark well known to the author of LA. (Pace LA, Rathcroghan is north of Fuerty.)
Parallels.—The closest parallel is the story of Brigit, who heard a Mass that was being celebrated in Rome, though unable to hear a popular tumult close by (TT, 539). Something resembling the action of a wireless telephone is contemplated, the voices being inaudible to persons between the speakers. Thus the tales of saints with preternaturally loud voices are not quite in point. Colum Cille was heard to read his Psalms a mile and half away (LL, 828); Brenainn also was heard at a long distance (LL, 3419). The burlesque Vision of MacConglinne parodies such voices (ed. Meyer, pp. 12, 13).
Parallels.—There are endless tales of how saints pressed wild animals into their service; indeed the first monastic establishment of Ciaran’s elder namesake, Ciaran of Saigir, consisted of wild animals only: a boar, a badger, a wolf, and a stag (VSH, i, 219; Silua Gadelica, i, p. 1 ff.). Moling also kept a number of wild and tame animals round his monastery—among them a fox, which, as in the tale before us, attempted to eat a book (VSH, ii, 201); otherwise, however, the stories differ. Aed rescued a stag from hunters, and used its horns as a book-rest (VSH, ii, 296); Coemgen similarly rescued a boar (VSH, i, 244). So, in Wales, Saint Brynach caused stags to draw his carriage, and committed his cow to the charge of a wolf (Cambro-British Saints, pp. 10, 296). Saint Illtyd tamed a stag which he had rescued from hunters (ibid., pp. 164, 473).
Herding of Cattle.—There is abundant evidence from the Lives of the saints that the herding of the cattle while pasturing was an important duty of the children of the household. There was no little risk in this, owing to the prevalence of wolves.
Reading the Psalms.—The Psalms seem to have been the first subject of instruction given to young students; LB, 4, indicates that Ciaran’s lessons with Iustus did not go beyond the mere rudiments of learning. There is in the National Museum, Dublin, a tablet-book containing six leaves of wax-covered wood, on which are traced a number of the Psalms in the Vulgate version; this was most likely a lesson-book such as is here described. The story evidently grew up around an actual specimen, that bore injuries, explained as being the tooth-marks of the fox.
Versions of the Tale.—It would appear that this story was originally an account of how Ciaran and his distant tutor could communicate, quite independent of incident VI. It has become awkwardly combined with VI into a conflate narrative, as is shown by the silence about the fox in LA. According to the one story, they used their supernatural “wireless telephone.” According to the other, the fox trotted back and forth with the book. In the conflate version, it would appear that Iustus dictated Psalms to Ciaran by “telephone,” Ciaran then wrote them on his tablets, and the fox waited till he was finished and then carried them for correction to Iustus. (As is observed in the footnote in loc, p. 73, we must read “Iustus” for “Ciaran” in the passage describing the proceedings of the fox).
The Homiletic Pendant.—The unexpected homiletic turn given to this story in VG may perhaps find its explanation in facts now lost to us; the passage reads like a side-thrust at some actual person or persons. It may possibly refer to the act of sacrilege committed by Toirdelbach o Briain, in 1073, who carried away from Clonmacnois the head of Conchobar o Maeil-Shechlainn; but being attacked by a mysterious disease—imparted to him, it was said, by a mouse which issued from the head and ran up under his garment—he was obliged to return it, with two gold rings by way of compensation. He did not recover from the disease, however, but died in 1086 (Annals of Four Masters).
I have found no parallel to this most remarkable story. It displays the following noteworthy points—
1. It belongs to the Ciaran-tradition which places the home of the family in Cenel Fiachach.
2. It preserves what has every appearance of being an authentic tradition of a prohibition against the presence of males, even of tender years, when dyeing was being carried on.
3. Most likely the saint’s curse—indeed, the whole association of the tale with Ciaran—is a late importation into the story: it was probably originally a [Pagan] tale, told as a warning of what would happen if males were allowed to be present at the mystery. The different colours which the garments assumed are perhaps not without significance; Sullivan, in his introduction to O’Curry’s Manners and Customs (i, p. 405), says “the two failures ... are simply the failures which result from imperfect fermentation and over-fermentation of the woad-vat.”
4. There is an intentionally droll touch given to the end of the Maerchen.
5. The independence of parental control which the youthful Ciaran displays will not escape notice.
The Stanza.—This is written in a peculiar metre; two seven-syllable lines, with trisyllabic rhymes, followed by two rhyming couplets of five-syllable lines with monosyllabic rhymes.
Iarcain is a word of uncertain meaning: it probably denotes the waste stuff left behind in the vat.
IX. HOW CIARAN RESTORED A CALF WHICH A WOLF HAD DEVOURED (LA, LB, LC, VG)
Parallels.—Practically the same story is told of Abban (VSH, i, 24; CS, 508) and of Colman (CS, 828). A similar story is told of Saint Patrick (LL, 91), but it is not quite identical, inasmuch as here the wolf voluntarily restored a sheep which it had carried off. Something like this, however, is indicated in the Latin verse rendering of the story (No. 2 of the Latin verse fragments at the end of LB). More nearly parallel is the tale of Brigit (LL, 1250; CS, 19) who gave bacon which she was cooking to a hungry dog; it was miraculously replaced. A converse of this miracle is to be found in the Life of Ailbe, who first restored two horses killed by lions, and then miraculously provided a hundred horses for the lions to devour (CS, 239). Aed gave eight wethers to as many starving wolves, and they were miraculously restored to save him from the indignation of his maternal aunt (VSH, ii, 296). It is obvious, but hypercritical, to complain that in these artless tales the kindness shown to the beasts is illogically one-sided!
The Process of Resuscitation.—The important point in the tale, though the versions do not all recognise this, is the collection of the bones of the calf. VG preserves the essential command to the wolf not to break these. Colum Cille reconstituted an ox from its bones (LL, 1055). Coemgen gave away to wayfarers the dinner prepared for the monastic harvestmen, and when the latter naturally protested, he collected the bones and re-clothed them with flesh, at the same time turning water to wine (VSH, i, 238). Aed performed a similar miracle in the nunnery at Clonmacnois, replacing Ciaran’s dinner which he himself had eaten (VSH, i, 39). There is here no mention of the bones, but very likely this has become lost in the process of transmission. By all these tales we are reminded of the boar Saehrimnir, on whose flesh the blessed ones in Valhalla feast daily—sodden every evening and reconstituted from its bones every morning. In a Breton folk-tale, La princesse Troiol, the hero has been burnt by the wiles of his enemy, but his sorceress fiancee seeks among the ashes till at last she finds a tiny splinter of bone. With this she is able to restore her betrothed; without it she would have been powerless.
Very probably the practice of “secondary interment” of human bones, which we find so far back as the later stages of the Palaeolithic age, is based upon the same belief; that if the bones are preserved, their owner has a chance of a fresh lease of life.
There is a curious variant of the story in the Life of Coemgen. Here the cow is driven home, and Coemgen, called upon to soothe its lamentations, fetches, not the bones of the eaten calf, but the culprit wolf, which comes and plays the part of the calf to the satisfaction of all concerned (VSH, i, 239). It is evident that in this case there is another element of belief indicated: the personality of the calf has passed into the wolf which has devoured it—in fact, the wolf is the calf re-incarnate.
Resurrection of Beasts.—Calling dead animals back to life is a not infrequent incident in the lives of Irish saints. We have already seen Ciaran resuscitating a horse. Mo-Chua restored twelve stags (VSH, ii, 188); but perhaps the most remarkable feat was that of Moling, who, having watched a wren eating a fly, and a kestrel eating the wren, revived first the wren and then the fly (VSH, ii, 200). Saint Brynach’s cow having been slain by a tyrannical king, was restored to life by the saint (Cambro-British Saints, pp. 11, 297).
The Stanza in VG.—The metre is ae freslige. The rendering in the text is close to the literal sense.
The Ejaculation “Mercy on us"—or, more literally, “mercy come to us.” The sentence recording this habitual ejaculation, in VG, breaks so awkwardly into the sense of the passage in which it is found, that it must be regarded as a marginal gloss which has become incorporated with the text. It has dislodged a sentence that must have legitimately belonged to the text, restored in the foregoing translation by conjecture. Probably the lost sentence, like the intrusive one, ended with the word trocuire, “mercy,” which, indeed, may have suggested the interpolation; this might easily have caused the scribe’s eye to wander. An habitual expletive is also attributed to St. Patrick (modebroth, apparently “My God of Judgment!").
Here, again, the versions in LB and LC are very closely akin.
Parallels.—Robbers were smitten with blindness (cf. Genesis xix. II) by Darerca (CS, 179) and restored on repentance. The same fate befell a man who endeavoured to drive Findian from a place where he had settled (CS, 198). Robbers who attempted to attack Cainnech (CS, 364, 389; VSH, i, 153), Colman (VSH, i, 264), and Flannan (CS, 669), were struck motionless. The story before us is a conflation of the two types of incident, blindness and paralysis being accumulated on the robbers. The same accumulation befell a swineherd who attempted to slay Saint Cadoc (Cambro-British Saints, pp. 31, 321).
Note that this incident, like No. VIII, belongs to the Cenel Fiachach tradition. We have already seen that it was known to the compiler of the Annals of Clonmacnois, though he ignores the miraculous element.
XI.-XIII. HOW CIARAN GAVE CERTAIN GIFTS (LA): XIV. HOW CIARAN GAVE THE KING’S CAULDRON TO BEGGARS AND WAS ENSLAVED (LA, LC, VG)
These four incidents may be considered together: they are all variants of one formula.
Parallels.—Brigit took “of her father’s wealth and property, whatsoever her hands would find, ... to give to the poor and needy” (LL, 1308). A story is told in the Life of Aed which is evidently a combination of our incidents XII and XIII: to the effect that when ploughing he made a gift of one of his oxen and of the coulter, and continued to plough without either (VSH, i, 36).
The angels grinding for Ciaran reappear in incident XVIII: this is a frequent type of favour shown to saints. Angels ground for Colum Cille at Clonard (LL, 850), swept out a hearth for Patrick (LL, 121), and harvested for Ailbe (CS, 241).
Beoit an Uncle.—This is an important link between incidents XII and XIII in LA. Its bearing upon the question of the origin of Ciaran’s family has already been noticed.
The Oxen ploughing.—Incident XIII would be meaningless if we did not understand from it that at the time of the formation of the story it was not customary to use horses in the plough. This is an illustration of the way in which these documents, unhistorical though they may be in the main, yet throw occasional sidelights, which may be accepted as authentic, on ancient life.
King Furbith.—I have not succeeded in tracing this personage, who reappears in incident XXVII. But the story of his cauldron is found in the Life of Ciaran of Saigir (CS, 815), in a rather different form—to the effect that he deposited his considerable wealth for safe-keeping with Ciaran, who was already abbot of Clonmacnois. Ciaran promptly distributed it to the poor. Furbith was human enough to be annoyed at this breach of trust, and ordered Ciaran to be summoned before him in bonds. This done, he addressed him “insultingly,” as the hagiographer puts it, in these words: “Good abbot, if thou wilt be loosed from bonds, thou must needs bring me seven white-headed red hornless kine: and if thou canst not find them, thou shalt pay a penalty for my treasures which thou hast squandered.” Ciaran undertook to provide the required cattle, “not to escape these thy bonds, which are a merit unto me, but to set forth the glory of my God”; and therefore he was set free to obtain them. Another variant of these stories—a common type, in which the saint gives away the property of other people in alms, but has his own face miraculously saved—is illustrated by the tale of Coemgen, who, when a boy was pasturing sheep. He gave four of them to beggars, but when the sheep were led home at night the number was found complete “so that the servant of Christ should not incur trouble on account of his exceeding charity” (VSH, i, 235).
The site of Cluain Cruim (LA) is unknown (perhaps Clooncrim, Co. Roscommon). The Desi (VG), or Dessi, were a semi-nomadic pre-Celtic people once established in the barony of Deece, Co. Meath, but afterwards in the baronies of Decies in Waterford: both these baronies still bear their name. A branch of them settled in Wales. Evidently the donors of the cauldrons which purchased the freedom of the saint were of the Decies; they are said to have been Munster folk (the name of the province is variously spelled).
I have found no parallel to this story; it contains no miraculous element, and may quite possibly be at least founded on fact. Its chief importance is the prominence given to the materfamilias.
Unlike LA, LC seems to imply that the injury to the axle was not repaired. This would be parallel to the story of Aed, who, when his carriage met with a similar mishap, was able to continue his journey on one wheel only (CS, 336; VSH, i, 36).
XVII. HOW CIARAN WENT WITH HIS COW TO THE SCHOOL OF FINDIAN (LA, LB, LC, VG)
The blessing of the Cow.—In this story we again note the prominence of the materfamilias: it is she who in most of the versions withholds the desired boon. Note how LB endeavours to tone down the disobedience of the saint by making the cow follow him of her own accord, or, rather, upon a direct divine command. The Annals of Clonmacnois presents the story in a similar form: “He earnestly entreated his parents that they would please to give him the cow [which had been stolen and recovered; ante, p. 108], that he might go to school to Clonard to Bishop Finnan, where Saint Colum Cille ... and divers others were at school: which his parents denied: whereupon he resolved to go thither as poor as he was, without any maintenance in the world. The cow followed him thither with her calf; and being more given to the cause of his learning than to the keeping of the cows, having none to keep the calf from the cow, [he] did but draw a strick of his bat between the calf and cow. The cow could not thenceforth come no nearer [sic] the calf than to the strick, nor the calf to the cow, so as there needed no servant to keep them one from another but the strick.” A totally different version of the story of the cow is recorded in the glosses to the Martyrology of Oengus (9th September). Here Ciaran applied to his father, who, so far from refusing his request, bade him go through the herd and take whatever beast would follow him. “The Dun Cow of Ciaran” yielded to the test. Further, the same cow followed him when he left Clonard, instead of remaining with Ninned as in the Lives before us.
Note how the author of LA has been unable to keep a very human touch out of his arid record: matri displicebat, uolebat enim eum secum semper habere. This is our last glimpse of poor Darerca, and it does much to soften the rather lurid limelight in which our homilists place her.
The Division of Kine and Calves.—This miracle is one of the most threadbare commonplaces of Irish hagiographical literature; it is most frequently, as here, performed by drawing a line on the ground between the animals with the saint’s wonder-working staff. It is attributed, inter alia, to Senan (LL, 1958), Fintan (CS, 229), Ailbe (with swine, CS, 240), and Finan (CS, 305).
A miraculous abundance of milk was also given by kine belonging to Brigit (CS, 44) and to Samthann (VSH, ii, 255).
The Hide of the Cow.—Plummer quotes other illustrations of such mechanical passports to the Land of the Blessed (VSH, i, p. xciii). The main purpose of this whole incident is doubtless to explain the origin of a precious relic, preserved at Clonmacnois. Its history is involved in some doubt: it is complicated by the fact that there exists a well-known manuscript, now preserved in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, written at Clonmacnois about A.D. 1100, and called the Book of the Dun Cow, from the animal of whose hide the vellum is said to have been made. But whether this book has any connexion with the Dun Cow of Ciaran may be considered doubtful. For down to the comparatively late date at which our homilies were put together, the hide of Ciaran’s Dun was evidently preserved as a hide, on or under which a dying man could lie: therefore it cannot have been made into a book. Yet Imtheacht na Tromdhaimhe (p. 124 of the printed text) tells us, for what it may be worth, that Ciaran wrote the great epic tale called Tain Bo Cualnge upon the hide of the Dun Cow. There is actually a copy of this tale in the existing book; but the book was written not long after the time when our homilists were describing the relic as an unbroken hide. Either there were two dun cows, or the name of the Manuscript has arisen from a misunderstanding.
The stanza in VG is another example of ae freslige metre. The literal translation is “Fifty over a hundred complete / the Dun of Ciaran used to feed, // guests and lepers / people of the refectory and of the parlour.”
The School of Findian.—Findian was born in the fifth century. He went to Tours for study, and afterwards to Britain; he then felt a desire to continue his studies in Rome, but an angel bade him return to Ireland and there continue the work begun by Patrick. After spending some time with Brigit at Kildare, and establishing various religious houses, he settled at Cluain Iraird, in the territory of Ui Neill: now called Clonard, in Co. Meath. His establishment there became the chief centre of instruction in Ireland in the early part of the sixth century. He died in 549, at an advanced age: indeed, he is traditionally said to have lived 140 years. Nothing now remains of the monastery, though there were some ruins a hundred years ago.
The angels grinding have already been seen in incident XIV.
The Stanza in VG.—This is in the metre known as rannaigecht mor, seven syllables with monosyllabic rhymes, usually abab. The translation adequately expresses the sense and, approximately, the metre. The number of saints enumerated is thirteen, not twelve, but the master, Findian of Clonard, is not counted in the reckoning. The names, the principal monasteries, and the obits of these saints are as follows—
Findian of Cluain Iraird (Clonard, Co.
Meath), 12 December 548.
Findian of Mag-bile (Moville, Co. Donegal), 12 September 579.
Colum Cille of I Choluim Cille (Iona), 9 June 592.
Colum of Inis Cealtra (Holy Island, Loch Derg), 13 December 549.
Ciaran of Cluain maccu Nois (Clonmacnois), 9 September 548.
Cainnech of Achad Bo (Aghaboe, Queen’s Co.), 11 October 598.
Comgall of Beannchor (Bangor, Co. Down), 10 May 552.
Brenainn of Birra (Birr, King’s Co.), 29 November 571.
Brenainn of Cluain Fearta (Clonfert, King’s Co.), 16 May 576.
Ruadan of Lothra (Lorrha, Co. Tipperary), 15 April 584.
Ninned of Inis Muighe Saimh (Inismacsaint in Loch Erne),
18 January 5..(?).
Mo-Bi of Glas Naoidhean (Glasnevin, Co. Dublin) 12 October 544.
Mo-Laise mac Nad-Fraeich of Daimhinis (Devenish, Loch Erne),
12 September 563.
Parallels.—Maignenn never would look on a woman, “lest he should see her guardian devil” (Silua Gadelica, i, 37). The story has some affinity with the curious Maerchen of the Mill and the Bailiff’s Daughter (incident XXIV). Cuimmin of Connor, in his poem on the characters of the different Irish saints, spoke thus of Ciaran, doubtless in reference to this incident: “Holy Ciaran of Clonmacnois loved humility that he did not abandon rashly; he never spoke a word that was untrue, he never looked at a woman from the time when he was born.”
The Stanza in VG.—Metre ae freslige. Literally thus: “With Ciaran read / a girl who was stately with treasures // and he saw not / her form or her shape or her make.”
In LA the father of the maiden is king in Tara: in VG he is king of Cualu, the strip of territory between the mountains and the sea from Dublin southward to Arklow.
Leprosy, or at least a severe cutaneous disease so called, was common in ancient Ireland; and there are numerous stories, some of them extremely disagreeable, that tell how the saints associated with its victims as an act of self-abasement. We have already seen how Patrick was said to have kept a leper. Brigit also healed lepers by washing (LL, 1620), and Ruadan cleansed lepers with the water of a spring that he opened miraculously (VSH, ii, 249). Contrariwise, Munnu never washed except at Easter after contracting leprosy (VSH, ii, 237). The miraculous opening of a spring is a common incident in Irish hagiography; we have already seen an example, in the annotations to incident I.
Whitley Stokes points out (LL, note ad loc.) that the “three waves” poured over the lepers are suggested by the triple immersion in baptism.
Parallels.—We have already noted the use of wild animals by Irish saints. Findian yoked stags to draw wood (LL, 2552). Patrick kept a tame stag (TT, p. 28, cap. lxxxii, etc.). In incident XXXVII, Ciaran is again served by a stag. Cainnech, like Ciaran, made a book-rest of the horns of a stag (CS, 383), and books which Colum Cille had lost were restored to him by a stag (TT, Quinta Vita, p. 407). In the life of Saint Cadoc we read an incident which combines docile stags drawing timber and a forgotten book untouched by rain (Cambro-British Saints, pp. 38, 329).
For Ciaran’s prompt obedience to the summoning sound of the bell, compare what is told of Cainnech, who happened to be summoned by the head of the monastic school when he was writing, and left the letter O, which at the moment he was tracing, unfinished, to obey the call (VSH, i, 153).
There is a parallel in incident XXXVI for the book unwet by rain. Books written by Colum Cille could not be injured by water (LL, 956). It is perhaps hardly necessary to infer with Plummer (VSH, i, p. cxxxviii) that this was a myth of solar origin.
This striking anecdote is unique, and probably founded on an authentic incident. The two versions before us differ in some respects, as a comparison will show. The story is told in another form in the Quinta Vita Columbae (TT, p. 403) to the effect that “Once Saint Kieranus, whom they call the Son of the Wright, on being asked, promised Columba that as he was writing a book of the Holy Gospels, he would write out the middle part of the book. Columba, in gratitude to him, said, ’And I,’ said he, ’on behalf of God, promise and foretell that the middle regions of Ireland shall take their name from thee, and shall bring their taxes or tribute to thy monastery.’” The same version appears in O’Donnell’s Life of Colum Cille (printed text, p. 128). Yet another version appears in the glosses to the Martyrology of Oengus (9th September), according to which Colum Cille wished to write a gospel-book, but no one except Ciaran had an exemplar from which to make the copy. Colum Cille went to Ciaran’s cell and asked for the loan of the book; Ciaran, who was preparing his lesson, and had just come to the words Omnia quaecumque, etc., presented him with it. “Thine be half of Ireland!” said Colum Cille. It is worth passing notice that the verse in question, here treated as the central verse of the gospel, is not one-fifth of the way through the book. Had the original narrator of the tale a copy with misplaced or missing leaves?
The Stanza in VG.—This is apparently slightly corrupt, but the metre is evidently meant to be ae freslige. It probably belongs to one poem with the previous stanzas in the same metre: its first line echoes the stanza in incident XIX. Literally, “With Findian read / Ciaran the pious, with diligence // he had half a book without reading / half of Ireland his thereafter.”
The Saying of Alexander.—I regret to have to acknowledge that I have been unable to get on the track of any explanation of this appendix to the incident, as related in VG. It is probably a marginal gloss taken into the text. The “Alexander” is presumably one of the popes of that name, and if so, must be Alexander II (1061-1073), as the first Pope Alexander is too early, and the remaining six are too late. I have, however, searched all the writings bearing his name without discovering anything like this saying, nor can I trace it with the aid of the numerous indexes in Migne’s Patrologia.
I cannot find any authority for the ritual indicated by this curious story, in which the blessing of a second person is necessary before food can be consumed. There is a Jewish formula described by Lightfoot, in which, when several take their meals together, one says Let us bless, and the rest answer Amen. But it is not clear why a response should have been required by a person eating alone.
The full details of this narrative have evidently been offensive to the author of LB, who has heroically bowdlerised it. It is obviously an independent Maerchen, which has become incorporated in the traditions of Ciaran.
The Famine.—Famines are frequently recorded in the Irish Annals: and it is noteworthy that they were usually accompanied by an epidemic of raids on monasteries. The wealth of the country was largely concentrated in these establishments, so that they presented a strong temptation to a starving community. The beginning of the story is thus quite true to nature and to history, though I have found no record of a famine at the time when we may suppose Ciaran to have been at Clonard.
Transformation of Oats to Wheat, and of other Food to Flour.—Such transformations are common in the saints’ Lives. We read of swine turned to sheep (CS, 879), snow to curds (LL, 127), sweat to gold (TT, 398) flesh to bread (CS, 368). The later peculiarities of the food—bread or some other commonplace material having the taste of more recondite dainties, and possessing curative properties—are not infrequently met with in folk-lore. Saint Illtyd placed fish and water before a king, who found therein the taste of bread and salt, wine and mead, in addition to their proper savours (Cambro-British Saints, pp. 165, 474).
The Resistance of the Saint to amorous Advances.—The reader may be referred to Whitley Stokes’s note ad loc., in LL. We may recall the well-known story of Coemgen (Kevin) at Glendaloch: though it must be added that the version of the tale popularised by Moore, in which the saint pushed his importunate pursuer into the lake and drowned her, has no ancient authority. On the rather delicate subject of the arrangement made between Ciaran and the maiden’s family, consult the article Subintroductae in Smith and Cheetham’s Dictionary of Christian Antiquities. This feature of the story is enough to show its unhistorical character, at least so far as Ciaran is concerned: for Ciaran did not belong to the Primus Ordo of Irish saints, who mulierum administrationem et consortia non respuebant, quia super petram Christum fundati ventum temptationis non timebant, but to the Secundus Ordo, who mulierum consortia et administrationes fugiebant, atque a monasteriis suis eas excludebant (CS, 161, 162). The description of Ciaran as transcending his contemporaries in beauty is probably suggested by Ps. xlv, 2, and is another illustration of the Tendenz already referred to.
The Eavesdropper and the Crane.—This incident reappears in the Life of Flannan (CS, 647). Wonder-workers do not like to be spied upon by unauthorised persons. This is especially true in the Fairy mythology surviving to modern times. Compare a tale in the Life of Aed (VSH, ii, 308). A quantity of wood had been cut for building a church, but there was no available labour. Angels undertook the work of transportation on condition that no one should spy upon them. One man, however, played the inevitable “Peeping Tom,” and the work ceased immediately. The reader may be referred for further instances to the essay on “Fairy Births and Human Midwives” in E.S. Hartland’s Science of Fairy Tales.
There is a touch of intentional drollery at the end of the story where the brethren are shown as having so thoroughly enjoyed the feast miraculously provided for them that their observance of the canonical hours was disjointed. For other instances of intoxication as resulting from saints’ miracles see VSH, i, p. ci.
The Stanzas in VG.—These are in ae freslige metre, so that they are probably another fragment of the poem already met with. The translation in the text reproduces the sense with sufficient literalness.
On the whole the impression which this unusually long and very confused incident makes on the reader is that originally it was an anti-Christian narrative concocted in a Pagan circle, which has somehow become superficially Christianised.
One of the numerous tales told of the danger of crossing the will of a saint. It is possibly suggested by Matt, xxi, 28; but it may also be a pre-Christian folk-tale adapted to the new Faith by substituting a saint for a druid. On the cursing propensities of Irish saints see Plummer, VSH, i, pp. cxxxv, clxxiii. A curse said to have been pronounced by Ciaran on one family remained effective down to the year 1151, where it is recorded by the Annals of the Four Masters (vol. ii, p. 1096). Another curse of the same saint, and its fulfilment, is narrated in Keating’s History (Irish Texts Society’s edn., iii, 52 ff.), and at greater length in the life of the victim, Cellach (Silua Gadelica, no. iv).
Note that Ciaran sends a messenger with his rod to revive Cluain. This is probably imitated from Elisha sending Gehazi similarly equipped to raise the Shunammite’s son (2 Kings iv, 29).
Cluain’s thanks at being delivered from the pains of hell may be contrasted with the protest of the monk resurrected by Colman (VSH, i, 260, 265) at being recalled from the joys of heaven—an aspect of resurrection stories frequently overlooked by the narrators.
The Stanza in VG.—The metre is rannaigecht gairit dialtach (a line of three syllables followed by three of seven, with monosyllabic rhymes aaba). The literal rendering is “Cluain agreed to come / to me to-day for reaping // for an oppressive disease / caused him living in his house to be dead.”
Tuathal Moel-garb ("the bald-rough”) was king in Tara A.D. 528-538. We have already met with Furbith in incident XIV.
Interceding for captives, with or without miracle, was one of the most frequent actions attributed to Irish saints: as for instance Brigit (LL, 1520) and Fintan (CS, 300). Doors opened of their own accord to Colum Cille (CS, 850). Paulinus of Nola gave himself as a captive in exchange for a widow’s son at the time of the invasion of Alaric in A.D. 410 (see Smith’s Dictionary of Christian Biography, vol. iv, p. 239, col. ii, and references there). This explains the allusion in LB. The woman passing through her enemies is perhaps suggested by Luke iv, 30. The prisoner Fallamain, rescued by Saint Samthann, also passed unscathed through a crowd of jailers (VSH, ii, 255; compare ibid., p. 259); his chains opened of their own accord, like the doors in incident XXVI. Compare Acts xii, 7 ff.
These four petits conies, found in VG only, are clearly designed to set forth the superiority of Clonmacnois above its rival establishments.
(a) This story tells how Findian ranked Ciaran above all the notable saints and scholars of his time, and how they had to acknowledge his pre-eminence by their very jealousy. Colum Cille is the only saint whom the homilist will allow to approach his hero.
(b) This is a thrust at the monastery of Birr. It says, in effect, “Clonmacnois is situated on the great river Shannon, Birr on the insignificant Brosna; and the relative importance of the two establishments is to be estimated by the size of their respective rivers—even Brenainn, the founder of Birr, said this himself!” There was a contest between the people of Clonmacnois and those of Birr at a place now unknown, Moin Coise Bla (the bog at the foot of Bla) in the year 756, according to the Annals of Clonmacnois and of Tigernach. The circumstances which led to this event are not on record; but it is not far-fetched to see an echo of it in the story before us. This would give us an approximate date for the construction of the story, though the compilation in which it is now embedded is considerably later.
(c) This story further exalts Clonmacnois as the place containing a valuable relic that ensures eternal happiness in the hereafter. Of this relic we have already spoken.
(d) Again exalts Clonmacnois by relating a dream in which the founder is put on a level with the great Colum Cille. This vision is related also in the Lives of the latter saint (see, for instance, LL, 852). An analogous vision, not related in the Lives of Ciaran, is that of the three heavenly chairs, seen by Saint Baithin. He saw a chair of gold, a chair of silver, and a chair of crystal before the Lord. As interpreted by Colum Cille, the first was the seat destined for Ciaran, on account of the nobility and firmness of his faith; the silver chair was for Baithin, on account of the firmness and brightness and rigour of his faith; and the third was for Colum Cille himself, on account of the brightness and purity—and brittleness—of his faith.
Compare with this narrative the parting of Senan and Notal (LL, 2031). The metre of the stanza is cummasc etir rannaigecht mor ocus leth-rannaigecht (seven-syllable and five-syllable lines alternately, with monosyllabic rhymes abab). The translation is literal.
LA and VG know nothing of the visit to Loch Erne of which this is the chief incident. Ninned here appears as an abbot, which is scarcely consistent with his previous appearance as a junior fellow-student of Ciaran. There is, however, a possible hint at this tradition in the statement in VG that when Ciaran departed from Clonard he left the Dun Cow with Ninned. Ninned’s island, as we learn from an entry in the Martyrology of Donegal (18th January) was Inis Muighe Samh, now spelt Inismacsaint, in Loch Erne. The reading in both MSS. of LB, silua for insula, evidently rests on a false interpretation of a word or a contraction in the exemplar from which R1 was copied. This seems to have been hard to read at the incident before us. Later on there is a word, which the sense shows us must have been potentes. The scribe of R1 could not read it, and left a blank, which he afterwards tentatively filled in with the meaningless word fatentes—a word which his copyist, the scribe of R2, emended by guesswork into fac(i)entes.
Parallels.—There are several cases of the restoration to life of persons who had been decapitated. Coemgen restored two women who had been thus treated (VSH, i, 239). The famous Welsh holy well of Saint Winefred in Flintshire is associated with a similar miracle (see Rees’ Cambro-British Saints, pp. 17, 304). The story of the three murdered monks is also told of Saint Aed (VSH, i, 38), but there the blood-mark round their necks is absent. Ciaran seems to have been less expert than some of his brethren in replacing severed heads on decapitated bodies; for according to a tale preserved in the Book of Lismore, there was a certain lord of the region of Ui Maine (the region west of the Shannon), who was called Coirpre the Crooked, for the following reason: he was an evil man who did great mischief to every one, in consequence of which he was murdered and beheaded. But Ciaran had shriven him, and in order to deliver his soul from demons he restored him to life, replacing his head—so clumsily, however, that it was ever afterwards crooked.
A certain man called Ambacuc, having perjured himself on the hand of Ciaran, his head fell off. He was taken to Clonmacnois, and not only lived there headless for seven years, but became the father of a family!
The Harbour of the Island.—It must be remembered, in reading this and other island stories, that as a rule “the harbour of the island” is not, as might be expected, the landing-stage on the island itself, but the port on the mainland from which ships depart to visit the island. Thus Portraine, a place on the coast north of Dublin, is properly Port Rachrann, the Port of Rachra—the port from which voyagers sailed to Rachra, the island now called by its Norse name Lambay.
Parallels.—I have not found an exact parallel, but the story belongs to the same family as that related of Coemgen, who kindled a fire with the drops of water that fell from his fingers after washing his hands (CS, 839).
The Aran Islands.—The marvellous isles of Aran, still a museum of all periods of ancient Irish history, with their immense prehistoric forts and their strange little oratories, were from an early date chosen as the site of Christian communities. Enda ruled over a community at the southern end of the Great Island; the church still survives, in ruin, and bears his name. Ciaran must have remained long enough in Aran to make a permanent impression there, for one of the ancient churches—much later than his time, however—is dedicated under his invocation. The reference to saints “known to God only” reminds us of the dedications to saints “whose names the Lord knows” in Greek on the font of the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem, and in Armenian on a mosaic pavement at Jerusalem.
Prophecy by Vision.—This is not an infrequent incident in the saints’ Lives. It often appears at the beginning of a Life, the saint’s mother having a dream interpreted by some one, whom she consults, as indicative of the future greatness and holiness of her unborn son. I have not hit upon another case in these documents of the same dream appearing to two persons at once.
Ciaran’s visit to Enda is described at length in the Vita Endei (VSH, ii, 71-2). We are there told that he was seven years in Aran, serving faithfully in the monastic threshing-barn, so that in the chaff-heaps it would have been impossible to discover a single grain; and that the walls of his threshing-barn were still standing in Aran when the hagiographer wrote. He then saw the vision of the tree, which, however, we are not told was seen by Enda also. Enda interpreted the vision as in the texts before us, and bade him go forth to fulfil the divine will. Ciaran then went to found Clonmacnois. He besought Enda before he departed that he (Enda) should accept him and his parochia under his protection: but Enda answered, “God hath not ordained it so for thee, that thou shouldst in this narrow island be under my authority. But because of thy wondrous humility and thy perfect charity, Christ thy Lord giveth thee a half of Ireland as thine inheritance.” Here there is another version of the claim of Clonmacnois to legislate ecclesiastically for half of the island. They then erected a cross as a token of their fraternal bond, putting a curse upon whomsoever should make a breach in their agreement. In a Life of Saint Enda, quoted by the Bollandists (September, vol. iii, p. 376 C), it is further averred that Enda saw in a vision all the angels that haunted Aran departing in the company of Ciaran as he went on his way. Distressed at this desertion of his heavenly ministrants, he fasted and prayed; but an angel appeared to him and comforted him, saying that the angels were permitted to accompany Ciaran on account of his holiness, but that they would return again to Aran.
The versions of this incident differ considerably both in detail and in the setting of the incident.
“Cluain Innsythe,” where LA sets the story, is unknown. There is no river in Aran, where VG places the incident; in this version, therefore, the ship is placed on the sea.
Lonan the Left-handed.—Nothing further is recorded of this person, so far as I know. The parenthesis describing how he “was ever contradictious of Ciaran” is probably a gloss; so far as the incident goes, the contradictiousness is the other way.
Note the interesting sidelights upon the practice of artificially drying grain in LA. There are some technical terms in the Latin of this incident in the LA version. Thus, the word here translated “hut” is zabulum; this I presume is another way of spelling stabulum, for the meanings given in Du Cange to zabulum or similar words are here quite unsuitable. The word which I have rendered “platter” is rota, and the word translated “shed” is canaba.
Senan.—This is an extremely interesting personality. His island, Inis Cathaigh (now corrupted to “Scattery”) is said to derive its name from Cathach, a monster (mentioned in LA) which had formerly inhabited it, and which Senan had slain or charmed away. There are obvious pagan elements in the legends of this saint, and there can be little doubt that the unknown hermit who founded the monastery, of which the remains are still to be seen, has entered into the inheritance of the legends of an ancient deity, most likely worshipped on the island. This deity was probably the god of the Shannon river: and the name of the saint is clearly reminiscent of the name of the river. In their present form the two names are not philologically compatible: the name of the saint may be explained as an arbitrary modification, designed to differentiate the Christian saint from the pagan river-god. That pagan names should survive (modified or otherwise) in ancient holy places re-consecrated to Christianity is only natural.
There may be some foundation in fact for apparently supernatural knowledge such as Senan displays in this incident of the personality of a coming guest. In reading documents such as this, we are not infrequently tempted to suspect that we have before us the record of actual manifestations of the even yet imperfectly understood phenomena of hypnotism, telepathy, “second sight,” and similar psychical abnormalities.
The story of the cloak is told again in the Life of Senan (LL, 2388). From the version there contained, we learn that Ciaran gave his cloak to lepers. There is another version of the visit of Ciaran to Senan in the metrical Life of the latter saint (CS, 750). According to this story, Ciaran was not travelling alone, but with his disciples; and they had no means of transport to the island except an oarless boat woven of osiers. Trusting themselves to this doubtful craft (as Cybi voyaged in a skinless coracle, Cambro-British Saints, pp. 186, 499), they were ferried over in safety, no water finding its way into the boat. Then follows the episode of the cloak, omitting, however, Senan’s jest of carrying it secretly. A glossator has added in LA the marginal note “Priests formerly wore cowls.” There are slight discrepancies between the versions as to the precise garment given by Ciaran and restored by Senan.
Another episode connecting Ciaran and Senan is narrated in the metrical Life of Senan (though the passage is absent from the CS copy; it will be found in the Bollandist edition, March, vol. ii, p. 766). Briefly, this tale is to the effect that Ciaran and Brenainn went to Senan for confession. They were received with fitting honour, but the steward of Inis Cathaigh told his superior that he had no provision to set before the guests. “The Lord will provide,” answered Senan; and in point of fact,
The Geographical Names.—Besides “the island of Cathi” (Inis Cathaigh, Scattery) LA refers to “Luim-nich” (Limerick), Kiarraighi (properly Ciarraige, [North] Kerry), and Corco Baiscind (the southern barony of Co. Clare), now spelt “Corcovaskin.”
Cobthach son of Brecan.—This person, who is said in VG to have made over Isel to Ciaran, was probably a local chieftain; but he has escaped the notice of the Annalists. In any case the statement that he made over Isel to Ciaran is so obviously incongruous with the sense of the passage, that it can be safely rejected as an interpolation. Its purpose is to claim for Clonmacnois the possession of the land called Isel, the site of which is no longer known, though it cannot have been far from Clonmacnois. Conn of the Poor, the great and charitable benefactor of Clonmacnois in the early years of the eleventh century, established an almshouse at Isel; and some fifty-six years later, in the year 1087, his son Cormac, then abbot, purchased Isel in perpetuity from the king of Meath.
Parallels.—We have already (incident XXI) seen an example of the rescue of a book from rain; compare also incident XLI. The garment of Finan (CS, 316) and of Cainnech (CS, 371) were preserved from rain, and snow did not injure a book belonging to Abban (CS, 530). The forgetfulness attributed to the saint with regard to his precious volume is a regular feature of this type of incident: it is no doubt meant to honour him, as indicating that the fulfilment of his monastic duties were yet more precious in his eyes. Moling forgot his book when reading by the sea-shore, and though the tide arose and covered it, it remained uninjured (VSH, ii, 191). There are numerous illustrations of the paramount need of attending to guests scattered through the saints’ Lives.
The story of the grain cast into the breast of a poor man has come down to us in confusion: it is not clear why the chariot is introduced at all. Probably we have a conflation of two incidents. In the one (which is the version followed by LA, for which see Sec. 26 of that document) Ciaran gave to a pauper a chariot and horses which the prince Oengus son of Cremthann had given him: as that prince belongs to the boyhood stories, it is probable that this incident should be transferred to that section of the Life. In the other incident, which may belong to the Isel period, Ciaran flings grain into the breast of the poor man, where it turns into gold: and we may suppose that the pointless re-transformation of the gold to grain did not take place. A similar tale is told of Saint Aed (VSH, ii, 308). The weird story of the jester who stopped the funeral of Guaire, king of Connacht, famous for his abounding liberality, and demanded a gift of the dead man, is of the same type; we are told that the dead king scooped up some earth with his hand, and flung it into the jester’s lap, where it became pure gold.
The island in the lake was probably a crannog, or artificial fortified island, such as are common on the lakes of Ireland. Fundamentally the story is an evident aetiological myth, intended to account for the existence of some curious swampy hollow. In its present form it is obviously suggested by Matt, xvii, 20. Note that VG does not seem to contemplate the wholesale removal of the lake.
Parallels are not wanting. Findian dried up a lake by prayer (CS, 192); and houses were shifted from the west side to the east side of a flood for the convenience of Colum Cille (LL, 858). Saint Cainnech, finding the excessive singing of birds on a certain island to be an interruption to his devotions, compelled them to keep silence (CS, 376; VSH, i, 161).
Parallels.—The nuns of Brigit made a similar complaint against the excessive charity of their abbess (LL, 1598). For the stag compare incident XXI; also the tale of how Brenainn was on one occasion guided by a hound (CS, 116). Ruadan, having given in alms his chariot-horses to lepers, found two stags to take their place (CS, 328).
The Stanza in VG.—The metre is one of the numerous forms of debide, seven-syllable lines with echo-rhymes in which the rhyme-syllable is stressed in the first line, unstressed in the second (as men, taken). The stanza before us is in debide scailte, where the two couplets of the stanza are not linked by any form of sound assonance. The literal translation is: “Although it be low it would have been high / had not the murmuring come // the murmuring, had it not come / it would have been high though it be low.”
The Geographical Names in LA.—Loch Rii (properly Loch Rib) is Loch Ree on the Shannon, above Athlone. The island called Inis Aingin has now the name of Hare Island; it is at the south end of the lake near the outlet of the river. There are some scanty remains of a monastic establishment to be seen upon it.
The Presbyter Daniel.—For the presence here of a Welsh or British priest, see the remarks in Plummer, VSH, i, p. cxxiv. But it is probable that in the original form of the story the presbyter Daniel was a fictitious ecclesiastic, perhaps the Evil One disguised. We may compare the two false bishops that came to expel Colum Cille from Iona (LL, 1007). Biblical names were sometimes used in the early Irish Church, though native names were preferred. There is actually the monument of a person called Daniel at Clonmacnois; it is a slab, bearing an engraved cross and inscription, probably of the ninth or tenth century.
The Gift.—This is said in VG to have been a cup adorned with birds. Such forms of decoration seem to have been common, and are sometimes referred to in Irish romances, though few, if any, examples that may be compared with the descriptions have come down to us. In LA a word antilum is used, which does not appear to occur anywhere else, and is unknown to our lexicographers. It is possibly a corruption for an(n)ulum, “a ring.” Naturally this tale of the gift must be a later accretion to the story, if it had the origin just suggested.
Note, in the long eulogy of the saint which the author of LB gives us here, that the writer has not hesitated to introduce reminiscences of Phil, ii, 7, 8, thus hinting at the general Tendenz of the Lives of Saint Ciaran. The rest of the eulogy is a free paraphrase of Rom. xii, 9 ff. There is extant a metrical “Monastic Rule” attributed to Saint Ciaran, which was edited by the late Prof. Strachan in Eriu (The journal of the Dublin “School of Irish Learning”) vol. ii, p. 227. The subject-matter of this composition is a series of regulations on morality and mortification of the flesh, but the language is so obscure, and the text of the single MS. which alone contains it is so corrupt, that even the pre-eminent Celtist who edited the poem would not venture on a translation.
Parallels.—As Ciaran recognised Oenna by his voice, so Colman picked out by his voice one of a number of soldiers destined for a religious life (VSH, i, 261). With the incident of the consecration, as successor, of an unprepossessing intruder, compare the tale of Findian consecrating for the same purpose a raider whom he caught hiding in the furnace-chamber of his kiln (LL, 2628 ff.; CS, 198). The version in LB conveys the impression that Oenna’s learning was imparted to him miraculously, as Oengus the Culdee inspired an idle boy with a miraculous knowledge of his neglected lesson.
The story of Oenna is told rather differently in the glosses to the Martyrology of Oengus (Bradshaw edn., pp. 48 ff.). Oenna with two companions was going for military service to the King of Connacht. They came to the embarking-place, not of Inis Aingin, but the larger Inis Clothrann (now sometimes called Quaker Island), where there are extensive ancient monastic remains. Ciaran was at the time in Inis Clothrann. He summoned Oenna to him, and asked him whither he was faring. “To the King of Connacht,” answered Oenna. “Were it not better rather to contract with the King of Heaven and earth?” asked Ciaran. “It were better,” said Oenna, “if it be right to do so.” “It is right,” answered Ciaran. Then Oenna was tonsured and began his studies. Here the miraculous insight which recognised in the warrior youth the future abbot is ignored. The tract De Arreis tells us of the penance which Ciaran imposed upon Oenna: briefly stated it was as follows. He was to remain three days and three nights in a darkened room, not breaking his fast save with three sips of water each day. Every day he was to sing the whole Psalter, standing, without a staff to support him, making a genuflexion at the end of each Psalm, reciting Beati after each fifty, and Hymnum dicat after every Beati in cross-vigil (i.e., standing upright with his arms stretched out sideways horizontally). He was not to lie down but only to sit, was to observe the canonical hours, and was to meditate on the Passion of Christ and upon his own sins.
The author of LA betrays his Irish personality by a phrase which he uses of Oenna. Ciaran bids his followers to fetch materiam abbatis uestri—“the makings of your abbot.” This is a regular idiom for an heir-apparent, and it shows that if the writer be not actually translating from an Irish document, he is at least thinking in Irish as he writes in Latin.
There is another story of a gospel recovered from a lake, but without any mention of a cow as the agent for its rescue (CS, 556). The tale may be founded on fact. The “Port of the Gospel” is now forgotten.
Books preserved as relics (e.g. the gospels belonging to a sainted founder) were kept in metal shrines, and valuable books which were in use were hung in satchels of leather on the walls of the library or scriptorium. Two specimens of such satchels still remain.
Parallels.—As Ciaran gave up his monastery to Donnan, in like manner Munnu surrendered his settlement to the virgin Emer (CS, 495). The list of equipments delivered by Ciaran to Donnan introduces us to the “human beast of burden,” Mael-Odran, a servile functionary occasionally met with in Irish literature. A well-known incident of St. Adamnan introduces him travelling “with his mother on his back” (see Reeves, Vita Columbae, p. 179). As to the bell, it may be worth noting that my friend Mr. Walter Campbell, formerly of Athlone, has informed me that an ancient bronze ecclesiastical bell, found on the lake shore opposite Hare Island, was long preserved, and used as a domestic bell, in the cottage of a man named Quigley. The owner believed that it was the bell of St. Ciaran, possibly that mentioned in VG: this is not impossible, though hardly likely, as a bell of such antiquity would most probably be of iron, and rendered useless by corrosion. Unfortunately, the bell in question is no longer forthcoming: it disappeared one day from Quigley’s house, stolen, he believed, by a tourist who chanced to pass by.
Note Donnan’s relationship to Senan as set forth in VG. He was brother’s-son of Senan, but had the same mother as Senan. Clearly this indicates a menage such as that indicated by Caesar as existing among the wilder tribes of Britain; a polyandry in which the husbands were father and sons (De Bello Gallico, V, xiv). These people were probably pre-Celtic, and this strengthens the arguments already put forward for a pre-Celtic origin for the Protagonist of our narrative.
On the subject of the burial of the chieftains of Ui Neill and the Connachta at Clonmacnois, see Plummer, i, p. cx. Neill is the genitive of Niall.
Ard Manntain is now unknown.
The chronological indications contained in VG are sufficiently close to accuracy to show that they have been calculated, though the computor has made a miscount of a year. The eighth of the calends of February (25th January) in A.D. 548 was actually a Saturday, but it was two days before new moon. The same day in A.D. 549 was the tenth day of the moon, but it fell on a Monday.
Of the companions of Ciaran, Oengus (properly Oenna) succeeded him as abbot, dying in A.D. 569; Mac Nisse, who was an Ultonian, followed him, and died 13 June 584 (aliter 587). The others, however, do not appear to have found a place in the martyrologies. Mo-Beoc is a different person from the famous Mo-Beog of Loch Derg in Co. Donegal.
The two versions are independent. But though there are no wizards or druids in the VG version, they appear in another story connecting Diarmait with the foundation of Clonmacnois. This is to the effect that Diarmait was at a place on the Shannon near Clonmacnois, called Snam da En, and saw the glow of the first camp-fire lighted on the site of the future monastery by Ciaran and his followers. The druids who were with Diarmait told him that unless that fire were forthwith quenched, it would never be put out. “It shall be quenched immediately,” said Diarmait; so with hostile purpose he advanced on Clonmacnois, but instead of doing what he proposed, he suffered himself to be pressed into the service of the builders, as the story in VG narrates. The tale in LA is interesting, as showing (1) the existence of a calendar of seasons lucky and unlucky for various enterprises, and (2) a spirit of kindly tolerance on the part of the pagan wizard.
The wiles of wizards were exposed by various saints, e.g. by Aed and by Cainnech. These tales are curious; the wizard in each case appeared to pass through a tree, but the saint opened the eyes of the spectators, so that they saw him actually passing round it (CS, 353, 368; VSH, i, 156). This reads like the exposure of hypnotically induced hallucinations.
Diarmait mac Cerrbeil, or more properly mac Fergusa Cerrbeil, was grandson of Conall Cremthainne, son of Niall Noi-giallach, the ancestor of the royal line of Ui Neill. The reigning king, Tuathal Moel-Garb, of whom we have already heard, was grandson of Coirpre, another son of Niall. As a possible rival for the kingship, Tuathal had driven him into banishment. Mael-Moire, or Mael-Morda, who murdered Tuathal, was Diarmait’s foster-brother. When Diarmait was installed on the throne, he summoned the convention of Uisnech—one of the places where from time immemorial religious Pan-Iernean assemblies, resembling in character the Pan-Hellenic Olympic gatherings, had been held. How Diarmait afterwards offended Ciaran, was cursed by him, and met his death in consequence of that curse, may be read in the tale printed in Silua Gadelica, No. vi, from which we have just quoted the version of the story of setting up of the corner-post.
There are chronological discrepancies, difficult if not impossible to reconcile, between the annalist’s dates for Diarmait and those for Ciaran. The Annals of Ulster places the death of Tuathal in 543, the accession of Diarmait in 544, and the death of Ciaran in 548, seven years after founding Clonmacnois. Some MSS. of these Annals, however, omit the reference to the seven years, and place the accession of Diarmait in 548, evidently to reconcile the stories. According to the Annals of the Four Masters, Tuathal was slain in 538, Diarmait succeeded in 539, and Ciaran died in 548. The Annals of Clonmacnois is more consonant with the chronology of the Life of Ciaran. It tells the tale so picturesquely that we transcribe it here, as before modernising the spelling—
“535. Tuathal Moel-Garb began his reign, and reigned eleven years.... He caused Diarmait mac Cerrbeil to live in exile and in desert places, because he claimed to have right to the crown....
“547. King Tuathal having proclaimed throughout the whole kingdom the banishment of Diarmait mac Cerrbeil, as before is specified, with a great reward to him that would bring him his heart, the said Diarmait for fear of his life lived in the deserts of Clonmacnois, then called Ard Tiprat: and meeting with the abbot Saint Ciaran, in the place where the church of Clonmacnois now stands, who was but newly come thither to live or dwell from Inis Aingin, and having no house or place to reside or dwell in, the said Diarmait gave him his assistance to make a house there, and in thrusting down in the earth one of the pieces of the timber or wattles of the house, the said Diarmait took Saint Ciaran’s hand and did put it over his own head or hand in sign of reverence to the saint: whereupon the saint humbly besought God of His great goodness that by that time to-morrow ensuing that [sic] the hands of Diarmait might have superiority over all Ireland. Which fell out as the saint requested, for Mael-Moire o hArgata, foster-brother of Diarmait, seeing in what perplexity the nobleman was in [sic], besought him that he might be pleased to lend him his black horse, and that he would make his repair to Greallach da Phuill, where he heard King Tuathal to have a meeting with some of his nobles; and there would present him with a whelp’s heart on a spear’s head, instead of Diarmait’s heart, and so by that means get access to the king, whom he would kill out of hand and by the help and swiftness of the horse save his own life whether they would or no. Diarmait, listing to the words of his foster-brother was amongst two extremities, loath to refuse him and far more loath to lend it him, fearing he should miscarry and be killed, but between both, he granted him his request; whereupon he prepared himself, and went as he was resolved, mounted on the said black horse, a heart besprinkled with blood on his spear, to the place where he heard the king to be; the king and his people seeing him come in that manner, supposed that it was Diarmait’s heart that was to be presented by the man that rode in post-haste; the whole multitude gave him way to that king, and when he came within reach to the king as though to tender him the heart, he gave the king such a deadly blow of his spear that the king instantly fell down dead in the midst of his people, whereupon the man was beset on all sides and at last taken and killed, so as speedy news came to Diarmait, who incontinently went to Tara, and there was crowned king as Saint Ciaran prayed and prophesied before.... Diarmait was not above seven months king, when Saint Ciaran died in Clonmacnois, where he dwelt therein but seven months before, in the thirty-third year of his age, on the 9th of September.”
The Stanzas in VG.—The metre is ae freslige. Literally: “I shall speak witness truly / though single is thy numerous train // thou shalt be a king pleasant, dignified / of Ireland this time to-morrow /// The slaying of chosen Tuathal / Moel-Garb, it was a crying without glory // thence is the choice saying / ‘it was the deed of Moel-Moire’ /// Without rout and without slaughter / he took Uisnech, it was not after an assembly // Diarmait the eminent gave / a hundred churches to God and to Ciaran.”
The Episode of Tren (VG).—This story illustrates a belief in sympathetic magic. What Tren had done to deserve this punishment is unknown, nor is the site of Cluain Iochtar identified. Possibly he had endeavoured to prevent Ciaran from founding his church; compare the story of Findian and Baeth (LL, 2624). Patrick had a dispute with a certain Trian, but the details of the story are different (TT, p. 45, ch. lxxx, etc.). It is difficult for us to put ourselves into the position of people who thought to honour their saint by telling a story about him which we should consider not only silly but immoral. But such an attempt must be tried if we are to understand anything of ancient writings, in whatever language and from whatever countries they may come down to us. Even when we read so modern and so universal an author as Shakspere we must for the moment imagine ourselves sixteenth-century Elizabethans; the more we succeed in doing so, the better do we understand what we read. So, in criticising a story like this, we must rid ourselves of all our twentieth-century prejudices, and accept it in the simple faith of those to whom it was intended to be told.
On one of the great carved crosses still to be seen in Clonmacnois—that erected in memory of Flann King of Ireland (ob. 914)—there is a panel representing an ecclesiastic and a layman holding an upright post between them. It has been plausibly conjectured that this represents the erection of the corner-post of the church, as described in our text.
The “Cloak of Senan” must have been an actual relic preserved on Inis Cathaig; tradition said that it had been floated on the river to the saint of the island, though there were various opinions as to which saint had done the miracle; it is attributed to Brigit daughter of Cu Cathrach (LL, 2399) and to Diarmait (CS, 753). For parallels to the automatic transfer of objects by water, see Plummer, VSH, i, p. clxxxvi, note 2.
The choice laid before the monks is curious, and hardly consonant with the usual spirit of abjuring the world; it may be aetiological, designed to explain, and perhaps to excuse, the opulence and temporal importance of Clonmacnois at the time when it was written. A similar but not identical story appears in the life of Munnu (VSH, ii, 227).
It is quite obvious that the story as we have it is a conflation of two versions of the anecdote. In the one version the wine was brought by Frankish merchants and acquired by purchase; in the other it was provided by miracle. The composite story appears in LA and VG; LB knows the miraculous version only.
That Frankish merchants should have sailed up the Shannon and delivered a cargo of wine at a settlement in the heart of Ireland in the middle of the sixth century, is no mere extravagance. The subject of ancient Irish trade has been very fully investigated by the late Prof. Zimmer, and he has brought a large number of facts together which show that such an episode is a quite credible fragment of history.
The second version, though LB calls it miraculum insolitum, is one of the commonplaces of hagiography. Water was turned to wine by a host of saints, such as Colum Cille (LL, 839), Fursa (CS, 111), Findian (CS, 205), Lugaid (CS, 283), Aed (CS, 339), and others needless to specify. Fintan (CS, 404), and Munnu (CS, 503), blessed a cup in such wise that one of their followers, while appearing, in self-abnegation, to drink nothing but water for thirty years, was in reality enjoying the best wine! Saint Brynach drew wine from a brook and fishes from its stones (Cambro-British Saints, pp. 12, 298), Brigit (LL, 1241) and Colman Elo (CS, 441) turned water into ale; the former (LL, 1368) as well as Lugaid (CS, 269, 280) and Fintan (CS, 404) turned water into milk.
I have not found any exact parallel to the incident of the scented thumb.
There is a cognate tale in the Life of Colman, in which monks, thirsty with labour, expressed a doubt as to the reality of the heavenly reward, whereupon their eyes were opened to see a vision of the joys of the after-life (VSH, i, 265).
The Tendenz of the biographies of Ciaran is clearly marked in the hint at a parallel between the last supper of Ciaran and the Last Passover of Our Lord.
On the consecrated Paschal fire, see Frazer, Balder the Beautiful, vol. i, p. 120 ff.
Parallels.—Coemgen carried fire in his bosom (CS, 837, VSH, i, 236). Cadoc also carried fire in his cloak without injury (Cambro-British Saints, pp. 30, 319). Elsewhere we hear of flames which do not consume, as in the burning bush of Moses, and probably in imitation of it (Exod. iii, 2). Thus the magic fire that delivered Samthann from a forced marriage appeared to ignite a whole town, which, however, suffered no injury (VSH, ii, 253). The fall of fire from heaven in answer to prayer is most likely imitated from 1 Kings xviii, 38.
The verse extracts at the end of LB (which see) contain a form of this story incompatible with the prose narratives.
The boy slain but not torn by wolves is, of course, imitated from the Prophet whose story is told in 1 Kings xiii, which is directly quoted in LA.
The mutual blessings of the two saints may be compared with the prophecy said to have been uttered by Ciaran of Saints Cronan and Molan who visited him at Clonmacnois (CS, 542). The one (Cronan) took away with him the remains of his repast for distribution to the poor, the other left them behind in the monastery; whereupon Ciaran said that the monastery of the one should be rich in wealth and in charity, that of the other should always maintain the rule (of poverty). Such tales as this, of compacts between saints, are probably based on mutual arrangements of one kind or another between the monasteries which claimed the saints as founders; we have already seen leagues established between Clonard and Aran on one side and Clonmacnois on the other, expressed as leagues made by Ciaran with Findian and Enda respectively. Contrariwise, we read of the disagreement of saints when their monasteries were at feud with one another. Ciaran was not always so successful in making treaties with his ecclesiastical brethren. Thus, he is said to have made overtures to Colman mac Luachain of Lann (now Lynn, Co. Westmeath)—a remarkable feat in itself, as Colman died about a century after his time—but not only did Colman refuse, but he sent a swarm of demons in the shape of wasps to repel Ciaran and his followers, who were journeying towards him. Ciaran then made a more moderate offer, which Colman again refused. Lann was in the territory of the Delbna, who, although friendly to Clonmacnois in the middle of the eleventh century, plundered it towards its close (Chronicon Scotorum, 1058, 1090; Annals of Four Masters, 1060).
The chronology of Ciaran the Elder is entirely uncertain. He is said to have been one of the pre-Patrician saints, in which case he could hardly have been a contemporary of Ciaran the Younger, unless we believe in the portentous length of life with which the hagiographers credit him (over three centuries, according to the Martyrology of Donegal, though others are content with a more moderate estimate).
The story of Crithir is told again in the Lives of Ciaran the Elder (see Silua Gadelica, vol. i, p. 14, and corresponding translation). The culprit is there called Crithid, and the version adds that the event took place in a time of snow.
The Geographical Names in LA.—Saigyr, properly Saigir, is now Seir-Kieran in King’s Co. Hele, properly Eile, was a region comprising the baronies of Clonlisk and Ballybrit in King’s Co., and Eliogarty and Ikerrin in Tipperary.
For parallels to this story see Plummer, VSH, i, p. clxxxvii, note. Compare also the third of the metrical fragments with which LB closes. It is clear that the purpose of the robbers was to efface the tonsure of the saint; very likely ecclesiastics were on occasion subjected to such rough treatment during the period of transition between Paganism and Christianity.
Contemporary representations (e.g. on the sculptured crosses) show that at this time two garments were normally worn, a lene or inner tunic, and a bratt or mantle. These, with the addition of a cape, something like a university hood, which could be thrown over the head, made up the complete equipment, and if all these were given to beggars the owner would be left completely destitute. So, in the story of the Battle of Carn Conaill, as narrated in the Book of the Dun Cow, Guaire, king of Connacht, of whom we have already heard, on one occasion would, if permitted, have divested himself of all clothing to satisfy importunate beggars. The device of the water-covering is remarkable.
This story, summarily and rather obscurely told in the text before us, is related more clearly in the Life of Brenainn (VSH, i, 101). The saint, seeing a man hard pressed by his enemies, bade him take up his position beside a standing stone; he then transformed the victim into the stone, and the stone into the victim. The assailants, thus deceived, cut off the head of the stone, and departed in triumph: the saint then reversed the transformation, leaving the man to go his way in peace. An analogous story is that of Cadoc, who turned raided cattle into bundles of fern, and transformed them back to cattle when the raiders had retired discomfited (Cambro-British Saints, pp. 49, 342).
This impressive story, which is as remote as possible in style from the ordinary stock incident, is probably authentic. The chronological indications in VG are quite wrong: the 9th of September A.D. 548 was a Wednesday, and was the twentieth day of the moon. They are, however, so far accurate for the year 556, that 9th September in that year was Saturday, and was the nineteenth day of the moon. As the observation of new moon, if not astronomically calculated, is often wrong by a day, owing to the faint crescent not being seen at its very first appearance, this is sufficiently close to allow us to enquire legitimately whether 556 may not have been the true date of Ciaran’s death.
The Bollandists cite from the Life of Saint Cellach a tale to the effect that Cellach was son of Eogan Bel King of Connacht, and was a monk at Clonmacnois; but on the death of his father he secretly absconded, in order to secure the kingdom for himself. Becoming convinced of the sinfulness of this proceeding, he returned and submitted to Ciaran once more, who received him fraternally after he had spent a year in penance. As the Bollandists point out, this story (quite independently of its historical authenticity) reveals a tradition
With Ciaran’s indifference as to the fate of his relics, contrast the dying injunction of Cuthbert to his monks, that they should dig up his bones and transport them whithersoever they should go.
The Little Church intended by the author is presumably the small chapel, of which the ruins still remain at Clonmacnois, called Saint Ciaran’s chapel. It is a century or two later than Ciaran’s time, but may very probably stand on the site of Ciaran’s wooden church. Hard by is the end of a raised causeway leading to the Nunnery; this may be the “Little Height” referred to.
Coemgen’s petulance at the preoccupation of the bereaved monks (VG) is in keeping with other traditions of that peppery saint. The resurrection of Ciaran after three days is another touch in imitation of the Gospel story: it is, however, also told of Saint Darerca, who appeared to her nuns three days after her death (CS, 185).
The story before us is thus related in the Life of Coemgen: “At another time most blessed Coemgenus made his way to visit most holy Kyaranus the abbot, who founded his settlement Cluayn meic Noys, which is in the western border of the territory of Meath, on the bank of the river Synna over against the province of the Connachta. But Saint Cyaranus on the third day before Saint Coemgenus arrived, passed from this world to Christ. His body was laid in a church on a bier, till Saint Coemgenus and other saints should come to bury him. And Saint Coemgenus coming late to the monastery of Saint Chyaranus, he entered the church in which was the holy body and commanded all the brethren to go forth, wishing to spend that night alone beside the sacred body. And when all the brethren had gone out, Saint Coemgenus carefully closed the door of the church, and remained there alone till the following day; but some of the brethren were watching till morning before the doors of the church. And as Saint Coemgenus prayed there, the most blessed soul of Saint Chiaranus returned to his body, and he rose and began to speak in health-giving words to Saint Coemgenus. The brethren remaining outside heard the voice of each of them clearly.
In this story we see as before the explanation of a treaty between Clonmacnois and Glendaloch.
The Annals of Clonmacnois narrates the story of the death of Ciaran and the visit of Coemgen, with an interesting additional miracle. “Dying, he desired his monks that they would bury his body in the Little Church of Clonmacnois, and stop the door thereof with stones, and let nobody have access thereunto until his companion Coemgen had come; which they accordingly did. But Saint Coemgen dwelling at Glendaloch in Leinster then, it was revealed to him of the death of his dear and loving companion Saint Ciaran, whereupon he came suddenly to Clonmacnois: and finding the monks and servants of Saint Ciaran in their sorrowful and sad dumps after the death of their said lord and master, he asked them of the cause of their sadness. They were so heartless for grief as they gave no answer; and at last, fearing he would grow angry, they told him Saint Ciaran was dead and buried, and ordered or ordained the place of his burial should be kept without access until his coming. The stones being taken out of the door, Saint Coemgen entered, to whom Saint Ciaran appeared: and [they] remained conversing together for twenty-four hours, as is very confidently laid down in the Life of Saint Ciaran; and afterwards Saint Coemgen departed to the place of his own abiding, [and] left Saint Ciaran buried in the said Little Church of Clonmacnois. But king Diarmait most of all men grieved for his death, insomuch that he grew deaf, and could not hear the causes of his subjects, by reason of the heaviness and troublesomeness of his brains. Saint Colum Cille being then banished into Scotland, king Diarmait made his repair to him, to the end [that] he might work some means by miracles for the recovery of his health and hearing: and withal told Saint Colum Cille how he assembled all the physicians of Ireland, and that they could not help him. Then said Saint Colum: ’Mine advice unto you is to make your repair to Clonmacnois, to the place where your ghostly father and friend Saint Ciaran is buried: and there to put a little of the earth of his grave or of himself in your ears,
The bell, called the boban of Coemgen, reappears much later in history as a relic on which oaths were taken (Annals of Clonmacnois, anno 1139; Four Masters, anno 1143). It was doubtless a relic preserved at Glendaloch, in which the people of Clonmacnois rightly or wrongly claimed a part-proprietorship. The name is obscure: it means, according to O’Davoren’s Glossary, a calf or little cow: and Plummer (VSH, i, p. clxxvii) suggests that this name may be an allusion to its small size. But why “calf”? Is it an allusion to the original use of the type of bells used for ecclesiastical purposes in Ireland, as cow-bells?
Angels were seen by Saint Colman to fill the space between heaven and earth to receive the soul of Pope Gregory (VSH, i, 264).
LI. THE EARTH OF CIARAN’S TOMB DELIVERS COLUM CILLE FROM A WHIRLPOOL (LA, LB)
This is perhaps an imitation of the tale of the Empress Helena, who, when returning after her discovery of the True Cross, was delivered from a storm by casting one of the Nails into the sea. Colum Cille was saved from the whirlpool of Coire Bhreacain (Corrievreckan, between Jura and Scarba) on another (?) occasion, by reciting a hymn to Brigit (LL, 1706).
The Visit of Colum Cille to Clonmacnois.—This took place during the rule of Ailithir, the fourth abbot of Clonmacnois (A.D. 589-595). It is described in Adamnan’s Vita Columbae, where we read of the honour paid to the distinguished visitor, and how he was greeted with hymns and praises, while a canopy was borne over him on his way to the church, to protect him from inconvenient crowding. A humble boy, a useless servitor in the monastery, came behind
The Hymn of Colum Cille.—This composition has not been preserved in its entirety. Fragments of it are introduced into the Homiletic Introduction of VG, which are enough to identify it with a short hymn to be found in the Irish Liber Hymnorum, and published by Bernard and Atkinson in their edition of that compilation. It is as follows—
Alto et ineffabile apostolorum coeti celestis Hierosolimae sublimioris speculi sedente tribunalibus solis modo micantibus Quiaranus sanctus sacerdos insignis nuntius
inaltatus est manibus angelorum celestibus consummatis felicibus sanctitatum generibus quem tu Christe apostolum mundo misisti hominem gloriosum in omnibus nouissimis temporibus
rogamus Deum altissimum per sanctorum memoriam sancti Patrici episcopi Ciarani prespeteri Columbaeque auxilia nos deffendat egregia ut per illorum merita possideamus premia
Obviously the third stanza, with its reference to Colum Cille himself, is a later addition, so that only the first two stanzas belong to the original hymn. The sixth line, quem tu Christe, is quoted in the section of VG referred to; but the three other excerpts, lucerna..., custodiantur..., propheta..., do not appear in the text before us: nor do the surviving stanzas justify the extravagant praise said to have been heaped on the composition at Clonmacnois—though no doubt a composition by Colum Cille, had it only the artless simplicity of a nursery jingle, would have been sure of an appreciative audience. However, the text seems to indicate something much more elaborate, and probably the original composition was an acrostic, like Colum Cille’s great Altus Prosator. The two authentic stanzas of the Liber Hymnorum are incorporated in the metrical patchwork at the end of LB.
Another version of the hymn was known to Colgan, and is given by him in TT, p. 472. Unfortunately he quotes only one couplet—
Quantum Christe O Apostolum mundo misisti hominem Lucerna huius insulae lucens lucerna mirabilis
which is evidently corrupt, and (as Colgan seems to regard it as the opening stanza) must show that the whole text had become disturbed by the time when Colgan wrote. Indeed, it does not appear that Colgan knew any more of the hymn than these two lines.
Note how the Latin texts soften down the saying attributed in VG to Colum Cille. A curious incident of disagreement between Ciaran and Colum Cille is thus related by Colgan (TT, p. 396). “Once there arose a petty quarrel between Kieranus and Columba, in which perhaps Kieranus, jealous for the divine honour, appeared either to prefer himself to Columba, or not to yield him the foremost place. But a good Spirit, descending from heaven, easily settled the quarrel, whatever it may have been, in this wise. He held out an awl, a hatchet, and an axe, presenting them to Kieranus: ‘These things,’ said he, ’and other things of this kind, with which thy father used to practise carpentry, hast thou abjured for the love of God. But Columba renounced the sceptre of Ireland, for which he might have hoped from his ancestral right and the power of his clan, before he made offering.’” The same tale is told in Manus O’Donnell’s Life (ed. O’Kelleher, p. 60).
The authorities differ as to the attitude which Colum Cille adopted with regard to Ciaran. But as regards the other saints of Ireland there is no ambiguity. The cutting-short of Ciaran’s life was one of the “three crooked counsels of Ireland” according to the glosses to the Martyrology of Oengus (9th September): the same authority adds that the saints “fasted for Ciaran’s death,” as otherwise all Ireland would have been his. The ancient legal process of fasting was an inheritance from Pagan times. If A had a case against B, he might, and under certain circumstances was obliged to, abstain from food till the case was settled; he was then said to “fast upon B.” The idea probably was that if a litigant permitted his adversary to starve to death, the angry ghost would ever afterwards disturb his rest. Parallels have been found in ancient Indian practice. Sometimes B performed a counter-fast; in such a case he who first broke his fast lost his cause. But the process seems to have been strangely extended, even in Christian times, to obtain boons from the supernatural Powers. We read of a saint “fasting upon God” that a king might lose a battle; and in Revue celtique, vol. xiv, p. 28, there is printed a story of a childless couple who fasted with success upon the Devil, that he might send them offspring. Two of the saints—Odran of Letrecha Odrain and Mac Cuillind of Lusk—went and told
An rim, a ri richid rain corbom etal risin dail: co cloister cech ni atber i sanct cech sen, a De mair.
(Stay for me, O King of glorious heaven, till I be pure before the assembly; till everything that I shall speak be heard in the sanctuary of every blessing, O great God.)
A Mic Maire, miad cen on ammochomde corric nem, a ruiri na nangel find, innanfa frim corbom sen?
(O Son of Mary, a dignity without blemish, O my Lord as far as Heaven, O King of the white angels, wilt Thou stay for me till I am old?)
Attchimse mo guide rutt arbaig Maire diandit Macc menbad tacrad latt a Ri condernaind ni bud maith latt
(I make my prayer unto Thee, for the love of Mary to whom Thou are Son, if it be not displeasing in Thy sight, O King, that I may do somewhat pleasing to Thee.)
Maccan berair rian a re ni fintar feib ar a mbe asaoete lenta baeis aggaes cach aes bes nithe
(A young man who is taken before its time, the honour in which he may be is not discovered: from his youth of following folly, to his age every company ... (?).)
Ni horta laeg rianaes daim ar cach sen as tressiu achach, ni horta uan na horc maith ni coilte cr ...  a blath
(A calf is not slaughtered till it is of ox’s age, ’tis the ploughing (?) of every old one which waxes stronger: a lamb or a good pigling is not slaughtered, the (saffron?) is not plucked till its flower.)
Buain guirt riasiu bas abbuig is m ... cacaid, a Ri rind? is e in longud riana thrath blath do choll in tan bas find
(To reap a field before it is ripe, is it a right (thing), O King of stars? It is eating before the time to violate a flower while it is white.)
Fuiniud immedon laa ni hord baa rian ... matan in aidche, in dedoil ria na medon cia mo col
(Sunset in midday, no order of profit before...; morning in night, twilight before its noon, though it be greatest wrong.)
Cluinti itgi notguidiu is mo chridiu deroil duir a Mic mo De cianomrodba is bec mo thorba donduir
(Hear Thou the prayer I pray Thee in the depth of my wretched hard heart, O Son of my God, although Thou cuttest me off, small is my profitableness ... )
Duitsi a Mic motholtu cen cope sentu dom churp, cenambera cen taithlech no co bia maith fe[in] fort
(To Thee, O Son, ... (?), that without my body becoming aged, I be not taken without reason till I shall myself be good in Thy sight.)
Is fort shnadud cach ambi ria ndula
m’ chri, a Ri slan,
ic do guide dam cen dichil, an rimm a Ri richid ran
(On Thy protection is every one whereso he is; before departure of my body, O Perfect King, I am praying Thee without negligence, stay for me, O King of glorious heaven.)
There is little that need be said about these paragraphs, which are of conventional type. There are two references in VG which may, however, be noted. The first is to the relics left in the hollow elm, of which we have already heard at the beginning of these annotations: here said to have been deposited by Benen (the pupil of Patrick, and his successor in Armagh) and by Cumlach (the leper of Saint Patrick). The second is an allusion, on which I am unable to throw any light, to some evidently well-known story of a certain Peca and his blind pupil.
This is a patchwork of extracts from different sources.
1. Fifteen-syllable lines, with caesura at eighth syllable; every line ending in a trisyllabic word, rhyming (not always) with a word preceding the caesura. A dissyllable or trisyllable precedes the caesura. Rhythm of Tennyson’s Locksley Hall, proceeding by stress only, independent of vowel-quantity or hiatus. In line seven, ‘Keranus’ must be pronounced in four syllables, Kiaranus. Refers to the wizard’s prophecy, incident II.
2. Four lines, in Locksley Hall rhythm, with a dissyllabic rhyme running through the quatrain. Relates incident IX.
3. Four lines, twelve syllables trochaic, caesura at seventh syllable. Each line ends with a trisyllable or a tetrasyllable, with dissyllabic rhyme running through the quatrain. The rhythm is that of the following line (which is intentionally misquoted to serve the present purpose)—
“Gather roses while you may, time is still a-flying.”
The incident is not recorded in the prose lives; but it appears in the Book of the Dun Cow, in the story of the Birth of Aed Slaine (son of King Diarmait, reigned A.D. 595-600). Diarmait, it appears, had two wives (for, notwithstanding his friendship to Ciaran, he was but a half-converted pagan), by name Mugain and Muireann. Muireann had the misfortune to be bald, and Mugain, who, as is usual in polygamous households, was filled with envy of her, bribed a female buffoon to remove her golden headgear in public at the great assembly of Tailltiu (Telltown, Co. Meath), so as to expose the poor queen’s defect to the eyes of the mob. The messenger accomplished her purpose, but Muireann cried out, “God and Saint Ciaran help me in this need!” and forthwith a shower of glossy curling golden hair flowed from her head over her shoulders, before a single eye of the assembly had rested upon her. Compare Ciaran’s own experience, incident XLVI.
4. Three lines in the same metre, but apparently with three instead of four lines in each rhyming stanza. Refers to incident XVIII.
5. Three lines in the same rhythm as extract 1, but with a different rhyme-scheme; apparently three lines from a quatrain rhyming abab. Refers to incident XLI.
6. Six lines in elegiac couplets. This probably refers to XLVI, but without their original context the lines must remain obscure. In any case the versifier has the story in a rather different form from the prose writers, and appears to regard it as an incident of the boyhood period.
7. Eight lines from the hymn of Colum Cille, already commented upon.
Some place-names in the barony of Moycashel (S. Co. Westmeath), which lies in Cenel Fiachach, support the tradition that Ciaran’s birthplace is to be sought there, and not in Mag Ai at all. I can find nothing in the local nomenclature to suggest Raith Cremthainn; but “Templemacateer” (Teampull mhic an tsaoir, the “Church of the Wright’s son”) may be compared with, and perhaps equated to the similarly named “house” (p. 111); “Ballynagore” (Baile na ngabhar, the “town of the goats,” or “horses”) perhaps echoes the “Tir na Gabrai” of VG 3. About half a mile to the west is Tulach na crosain, the “Mound of the crosslet”—possibly the missing cross of Ciaran (LA 4). At the outflow of the Brosna from Loch Ennell is “Clonsingle,” which it is tempting to equate to the place-name corrupted to “Cluain Innsythe,” in LA 12.
An additional suggestion may here be made to the effect that the eldest son and daughter of Beoit were twins. Their names, Lug-oll “big Lug,” and Lug-beg “little Lug,” are in correspondence, as twins’ names often are.
[Footnote 1: For brevity we shall refer to certain books, frequently quoted in these Annotations, by the following symbols—
LL. Lives of Saints from the Book of
Lismore, ed. Stokes.
CS. Codex Salmaticensis (Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae), ed. de
Smedt and de Backer.
VTP. Vita Tripartita Patricii, ed. Stokes.
VSH. Plummer’s Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae.
TT. Trias Thaumaturga (Colgan’s collection of the lives of
SS. Patrick, Brigid, and Colum Cille).]
[Footnote 2: There is a different version, which need not be given here, in the Martyrology of Oengus (Henry Bradshaw Society edition, p. 204).]
[Footnote 3: Mentioned in Annals of Ulster, anno 1166, Annals of Loch Ce, anno 1189, Annals of the Four Masters, annis 1121, 1166.]
[Footnote 4: A collection (in Irish) of the traditions of this person will be found in Targaireacht Bhriain ruaidh ui Chearbhain, by Micheal o Tiomhanaidhe (Dublin, 1906).]
[Footnote 5: The passage would then read thus—Rothircan Bec mac De condebairt andsin—
“A maic in tsaeir, cot clasaib, cot coraib, It casair chaeim, cot cairpthib, cot ceolaib.”
The transposition has probably been caused by the error of some scribe who copied first the parts of the two lines preceding the caesura.]
[Footnote 6: The roll of the Kings of Tara was evolved from various sources by the Irish historians of the early Christian Period. Tigernmas was properly a pagan culture-hero, to whom was traditionally attributed the introduction of gold-smelting and of other arts, and who was said to have perished, apparently as a human sacrifice, at some great religious assembly.]
[Footnote 7: This is certainly the reading, curiously misread in LL p. 356, (Irish text), and in VSH i, p. li, note 3.]
[Footnote 8: Ossianic Society’s Transactions, vol. v, p. 84 ff.]
[Footnote 9: Edited by Dr. Hyde in Celtic Review, vol. x, p. 116 ff.]
[Footnote 10: On this whole subject see Chapter IV of MacNeill’s Phases of Irish History, a book which may be unreservedly recommended as giving a clear and accurate view of the early history of the country.]
[Footnote 11: It may be noted for the benefit of the reader unaccustomed to Irish nomenclature, that persons are named in one of the following formulae: “A mac B” (mac, genitive mic, in syntactic relation mhic [pronounced vic] = son): “A o B” (o or ua, genitive ui = grandson or descendant): and “A maccu B” (maccu = descendant, denoting B as the name of a remote ancestor). Of course the name B will in every case be in the genitive.]
[Footnote 12: For division of labour between the sexes, see Frazer, Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild, ii, 129. For prohibitions of the presence of males when specifically female work was being transacted, Plummer quotes Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, Eng. Trans., iv, 1778 ("Men shall not stay in the house while women are stuffing feathers in the beds, otherwise the feathers will prick through the bed-ticking"). O’Curry (Manners and Customs, iii, p. 121), commenting on this story, refers to times and seasons deemed unlucky for dyeing, at the time when he wrote; but the prohibition of the presence of males was forgotten.]
[Footnote 13: Vafthrudnismal 41; Grimnismal 18. (Edda, ed. Hafn, 1787, vol. i, pp. 24, 48.)]
[Footnote 14: F.M. Luzel, Contes populaires de Basse-Bretagne (Paris, 1887), vol. i, p. 219 ff. Some other parallels are quoted by Plummer, VSH, i, p. cxliii, note 5.]
[Footnote 15: There is evidence from various literary sources that cattle thus peculiarly coloured were accounted sacred in ancient Ireland.]
[Footnote 16: There should be no hypermetric syllables, but I have been unable to avoid them.]
[Footnote 17: Horae Hebraicae in Evangel. Matt., xv, 36, following the tract Berakoth.]
[Footnote 18: O’Donnell’s Life of St. Columba, ed. O’Kelleher, p. 120.]
[Footnote 19: For the story of Coirpre, see Lismore Lives, ed. Stokes, preface p. xvi; Revue celtique, xxvi, 368. For the story of Ambacuc, see Silua Gadelica, no. xxxi; Eriu, vol. vi, p. 159.]
[Footnote 20: A fully illustrated description of this relic by Mr. E.C.R. Armstrong will be found in Journal, Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, vol. xlix, p. 132.]
[Footnote 21: Book of the Dun Cow, printed in Zeitschrift fuer Celtische Philologie, iii, 218.]
[Footnote 22: Feilire Oengusso, Henry Bradshaw Society edition, p. 12.]
[Footnote 23: Revue celtique, xv, at p. 491.]
[Footnote 24: I should here have quoted as a parallel the oft-described Indian rope-trick, which is alleged to be a hypnotic feat, had I not been recently assured by a relative who knows India well that no one has yet been discovered who has actually seen this trick performed, and that it is probably nothing more than a piece of folk-lore.]
[Footnote 25: See his important series of papers, Ueber directe Handelsverbindungen Westgalliens mit Irland im Altertum und frueher Mittelalter, published in Sitzungsberichte der koenigliche preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1909, vol. i.]
[Footnote 26: Life of Colman mac Luachain, Todd Lectures Series, Royal Irish Academy, vol. xvii, p. 86.]
[Footnote 27: Bede’s Life of Cuthbert, Sec. xxxix.]
[Footnote 28: This is evidently a mistranslation of boban, the translator having in mind the word ban, “white.”]
[Footnote 29: Henry Bradshaw Society edition, vol. i, p. 157.]
[Footnote 30: Although the sense appears to run continuously from one stanza to the next in their present collocation.]
[Footnote 31: MS. illegible.]
* * * * *
[Sidenote deg.1: R1 162b; R2 127d] [Sidenote deg.2: R2 128a] [Sidenote deg.3: R1 162c]
1.[ deg.1] Vir gloriosus, et uita sanctissimus abbas, Queranus, ex patre Boecio, matre Darercha [Darecha R2] ortus fuit. Hic traxit originem de aquilonali parte Hibernie, Aradensium silicet genere. Diuina quoque gratia a puerili etate sic ipse illustratus est, ut qualis[ deg.2] foret futurus luculenter appareret.[ deg.3] Erat [Cras MSS.] enim tanquam lucerna ardens eximia caritate, ut non solum feruorem pii cordis et deuocionem erga hominum inopiam releuandam [reuelandam MSS.] exhiberet; uerum et in creaturum irrationabilium necessitatibus infatigabilem ostenderet affectum. Et quia tanta lucerna non debuit sub modio abscondi, ideo a puerili etate cepit miraculorum prod[ig]iis coruscare.
2. Quum enim equus fili regis terrae illius subita morte periret, ac de eius casu iuuenis ille multum doleret, apparuit ei in sompnis uir uultus uenerabili ac rutilentis, qui eum prohibuit tristari pro morte equi, dicens ei, “Voca” inquit “sanctum puerum Keranum, qui aquam in os equi tui infundat, frontemque aspergat, et reuiuiscet. Illum quoque pro resuscitatione eius munere debito dotabis.” Cumque regis filius de sompno euigilasset, misit pro puero Kerano ut ad se ueneret; qui cum sui presentiam ei exhiberet, atque sompnium scriatim [seruatem or seritatem R1] audiret, secundum quod angelus illum docuit, equum aqua benedicta aspergens de morte resuscitauit. Viso hoc magno miraculo, agrum fertilem et amplum rex terrae illius in honore Dei Omnipotentis, in cuius nomine equus suus est resuscitatus, sancto Kerano contulit.
3. Accidit autem quadam die [q.d. omitted, R2] quod mater ipsius Kerani eum reprehenderet, eo quod mel siluestre, sicut ceteri pueri suis parentibus ferebant, non portaret. Quod cum dilectus Deo et hominibus audiret, mentem eleuans ad Puerum illum qui subditus erat parentibus, aquam de fonte uicino allatam benedixit, in nomine Eius qui mel potens est producere de petra, et oleum de saxo durissimo; et mox aqua illa in mel dulcissimum, Deo cooperante, conuertitur, et sic matri defertur. Hoc mel parentes eius sancto Dermicio diacono, cognomento Iusto, qui eum baptizauit, transmiserunt.
[Sidenote deg.4: R1 162d] [Sidenote deg.5: R2 128b]
4. Lectis autem a[ deg.4] memorato sancto literarum rudimentis, beatum Cluayn Hir[ deg.5]ardensem abbatem, discendi causa, adire proposuit. Et cum opere uellet complere quod animo cepit cogitare, uaccam unam a parentibus ad uictum sibi postulauit. Sed cum eius peticionem mater eius non acquiesceret, celestis Pater, qui intimios [sic R1, intuitos R2] suos quantum mater filium diligit, desiderium dilecti sui adimplere non distulit. Nam uacca una lactifera, una cum uitulo, consecuta est eum, acsi a suo pastore minaretur post eum. Qui cum ad sacrum collegium sancti Fynniani uenisset, gaudium non modicum de eius aduentu omnes habuerunt. Vacca uero, que secuta est eum, simul cum uitulo pascebatur, nec ubera materna sine licencia tangere attemptabat. Keranus eius pascua sic discriminauit atque distinxit, ut tantum uitulum mater lambe[re]t, nec tamen ei ubera praeberet. Istius uero uacce in tanta habundancia exubrabat lac, ut xii uiris cotidie distributum sufficientem copiam uictus praeberet. Sanctus uero adolescens Keranus, diuine scripture intentus, inter condiscipulos suos sanctitate ac sapientia, uelut sidus perfulgidus inter alia [alique R2] sidera, emicabat. Erat uero perfecte caritatis fragrantia plenus, et moris probitate, et uite sanctimonia, ac humilitatis dulcedine, presentibus et absentibus gratiosus, honorabilis, et admirabilis.
[Sidenote deg.6: R1 163a]
5. Vna dierum ad regem quendam, Tuathlum nomine, pro cuiusdam ancille liberacione intercessurus accessit. Cumque regem deuote pro ea rogaret [pro ea deuote oraret R2] ac preces famuli Dei quasi deliramenta sperneret, nouam artem liberacionis eiusdem cogitans, semet ipsum regi seruiturum pro ipsa decreuit. Veniente autem eo domum in qua puella molebat, clause iam fores illi patuerunt. Intransque, alterum se illi[ deg.6] Paulinum episcopum exhibuit. Nec mora, rex illam emancipauit, et insuper Dei famulo suum indumentum donauit. Quod ille accipiens, continuo pauperibus distribuit.
[Sidenote deg.7: R2 128c]
6. Nocte quadam[ deg.7] contigit ut eum doctor egregius Finnianus cum annona frumenti ad molendinum transmitteret. Regulus uero quidam prope habitans, quendam de discipulis uiri Dei illuc aduenisse intelligens, carnes et ceruisiam ei per ministrum destinauit. Cumque illi exenium tanti uiri presentaret, respondit ipse, “Vt commune” inquit “sit fratribus, totum in os molendini proice.” Quod cum nuncius compleret, in farinam totum mutatum est. Quo audito, rex uillam in qua manebat cum omnibus bonis suis in perpetuam dedit illi; sed Keranus suo condonauit magistro, ibidem enim monasterium postea constructum est. Panis uero de illa farina factus, uelut caro et ceruisia fratribus sapiebat et eos sic recreabat.
[Sidenote deg.8: R1 163b] [Sidenote deg.9: R2 128d]
7. Transacto autem temporis spacio, accepta magistri sui licentia et benedictione, ad sanctum Nynnidum in quadam silua stagni Erny commorantem properauit. Et cum [cum omitted R2] illuc peruenisset, cum magno gaudio et caritate non ficta susceptus est. Cumque idem in moris ac uirtutum disciplina cotidie proficeret, quadam die ad nemora uicina cum fratribus ad scindenda ligna ut [ut omitted R2] uerus obediens properauit. Erat enim consuetudo in sacro illo collegio ut iii monachi cum seniore ad ligna deportanda secundum ordinem temporis semper irent. Cedentibus uero ceteris ligna, ipse seorsum [deorsum R2] Deum, secundum quod moris erat sibi, attente orabat. Interea quidam nefandi latrones, rate ad insulam illam transuecti, in prefatos fratros irruerunt, atque eos occiderunt, et eorum capita secum detuler[ deg.8]unt. Keranus uero, dum strepidum soc[i]orum [sic] percucientium non audiret, mirabatur; et propter admiracionem festine peruenit ad locum ubi eos laborantes reliquit. Viso quoque eo quod de fratribus actum est [est omitted R2], alta trahit ipse suspiria, et uehementer contristatus est. Secutus est quoque homisidas [sic R1] illos e uestigio, atque eos in portu ut suam nauiculam in portu ad aquam [aquas R2] deducerent desudantes, sed minime hoc facere potentes [fatentes R1, facientes R2] inuenit; sic uero [sic eis R2] Deus scapham[ deg.9] eorum terre conglutinauit ut nequaquam eam amouere potuissent. Et cum uoluntati Cunctipotentis contraire non possent, a uiro Dei tunc presente [-entem R2]
[Sidenote deg.10: R1 163c]
8. Alio tempore cum peccora parentum in quodam loco custodiret, uacca una peperit coram eo uitulum. Veniens uero imacie omnino confectus [canis] cupiens de hiis que cum uitulo cadunt de uentro matris [uentrem suum] implere, stetit coram pio pastore. Cui ait “Commede, miser, uitulum istum, quia multum eo indi[ deg.10]ges.” Canis uero iussa Querani complens, usque ad ossa uitulum commedit. Redeunti uero Querano cum uaccis ad domum, illa ad memoriam reducens uitulum mugiendo huc illucque discurrebat. Causam uero mugitus cognoscens mater Querani, cum indignatione puero ait “Redde uitulum, Quirane, etsi igne sit combustus uel aqua submersus.” At ille iussis maternis parens, ad locum ubi uitulus erat commestus accedens, ossa eius collegit et uitulum resuscitauit.
[Sidenote deg.11: R2 129a]
9. Quodam tempore, transeunte eo per uiam, quidam mali[ deg.11]gno spiritu uexati canem ferocissimum excitauerunt ut sibi [sic] noceret. Sed confidens in Domino suo Queranus scuto deuote orationis se muniuit, ac dixit “Ne tradas bestis [sic R1, bestiis R2] animas confitentium tibi, Domine.” Et mox canis ille mortuus est.
10. Alio tempore solo eo in insula illa relicto, pauperem quendam audiuit in portu ignem sibi dari rogantem. Erat enim iam frigidum tempus; sed ratem non habuit ut pauperis peticioni, licet multum desideraret, satisfaceret. Et quia caritas omnia sustinet, ticionem ardentem in stagnum proiecit, et feruore [-rem MSS.] dilectionis mittentis in aquis preualente [preualens MSS.] ad pauperem usque peruenit.
[Sidenote deg.12: R1 163d]
11. Aliquandiu uero ibidem moratus homo Dei, cum licencia Nynnidi ad sanctum Endeum Arnensem abbatem properauit; qui in aduentu eius non modica perfundebatur leticia. Nocte uero quadam sompniauit se uidisse iuxta ripam magni fluminis Synan arborem magnam frondosam et fructiferam que totam obumbrauit Hyberniam. Quod sompnium beato Edeo indicauit crastina die [die omitted R2]. Sed et ipse Endeus eandem uisionem ea nocte [e.n. omitted R2][ deg.12]
[Sidenote deg.13: R2 129b]
12. Et profectus in uiam inuenit quendam pauperem in itinere cui ab eo eleemosinam petenti casulam suam tribuit. Cumque ad insulam Cathaci uenisset, beatus Senanus aduentum eius, Spiritu reuelante, didicit; eique obuiam ueniens quasi subridendo ait, “Nonne presbitero pudor est absque casula incedere?” Senanus enim in spiritu nouit quomodo ipse pauperi eam dedit. Et ideo cum ca[ deg.13]sula ei occurreret. Et ait Keranus, “Senior” inquit “meus sub uestimento suo casulam mihi aufert.”
[Sidenote deg.14: R1 164a]
13. Quam cum accepisset et gracias datori egisset, pro sancta colloquia ad cellam fratris sui Luctigernni [-gerimi R2] peruenit, ubi et alius frater eius Odranus [Ordanus R2] nomine erat. Ibi aliquanto tempore moram traxit ac magister hospicium fuit. Die uero quadam eo sub diuo legente in cimitherio, hospites ex improuise uenerunt, quos, librum oblitus apertum, ad hospicium adduxit; eorumque pedes deuote lauit, et cetera que eis necessaria erant propter Christum ministrauit. Interea cum nocturne adessent tenebre, grandis facta est pluuia. Sed Ille qui uellus Gedeonis ir[ deg.14]rorauit, at praeterea a rore intactum custodiuit, librum sancti Kerani sic ab ingruentibus aquis licet apertum [aquis hoc apertum R2] reserauit quod nec una gutta super eum cecidit.
14. Monasterio in quo tunc uir Dei morabatur, erat quaedam insula uicina, quam seculares quidam inhabitabant, quorum tumultus uiros Dei multum molestabat. Vnde contigit ut beatus Keranus, eorum inquietacione compulsus, ad stagnum accederet, et orationi se totum dans, elongationem illorum uexancium seruos Dei perueniuit. Cum enim ab oratione cessaret, ecce subito insula cum stagno et habitatoribus in remotum locum secessit, ut ullatenus [nullatenus R2] habitatores eius eius [sic MSS.] amicos Altissimi possent turbare. In Eius enim nomine hoc miraculum factum est qui Sodomam propter peccatum inhabitancium subuertit ac igne succendit. Adhuc extant signa illius stagni, ubi ante erat.
[Sidenote deg.15: R2 129c] [Sidenote deg.16: R1 164b]
15. Vir Dei, cum in usum [usus MSS.] pauperum bona monasterii distribueret, fratres super hoc conquirentes ad ipsum temere accedentes, dixerunt, “Discede,” inquierunt “a nobis, simul enim cohabitare non possumus.” Quibus ipse acquiesce[n]s, et uale in Domino faciens, ad insulam quandam se transtulit [a. i. s. t. q. R2] nomine Anginam; in qua insula fundato monasterio, multi undique properantes fama sanctitatis eius eos attrahente[ deg.15] seruicium Dei mancipauerunt. Sub stricta instruens regula, uultu et habitu, sermone et uita, se eis in exemplum exhibuit. Erat enim tanquam aquila prouocans ad uolandam pullos suos quantum ad contemplacionis sublimitatem; sed fraterna humilitate sicut minus [unus R2] ex eis uiuebat. Erat enim in spiritualibus meditacionibus suspensus ad supera; infirma tum imbecillitate sic condescendebat ut quasi uideretur se inclinare ad infima. Ipse quoque fide erat perfectus, caritate feruidus, spe gaude[n]s, corde mitis, ore affabilis,[ deg.16] paciens et longanimis, hospitalitate erat humanus, in operibus pietatis semper assiduus, benignus, mansuetus, pacificus, sobrius, et quietus. Et ut multa breui concludam sermone, omnium uirtutum erat ornatus decore. Hiis et huiuscemodi sollicitum impendens studium Marie contemplacioni ac Marthe erga temporalium dispensacionem ordinata succasione [succisione R2] adimplebat officium. Nec potuit talis ac tante lucerne lumen sub modio abscondi, sed circumquoque gracie sue splendore diffuso mundum copiose illuminauerat irradiauit lumine.
16. Erat nihilominus prophecie spiritu inspiratus, quam ex precedentibus et subsequentibus patet exemplis. Quadam namque die uox cuiusdam nauigium postulantis aures ei[us] pulsauerat. Tunc ait ad fratres; “Vocem,” inquit “eius audio quem Deus uobis preficiet abbatem; euntes ergo ipsum adducite.” Illi itaque properauerunt, atque ad portum peruenientes quendam adolescentulum illiteratum inuenirent. Quem negligentes adducere ad sanctum uirum reuersi neminem nisi adolescentulum illiteratum qui profugus in siluis errabat se inuenisse asseruerunt. Sanctus autem Queranus ait; “Adducite” inquit “illum, et nolite futurum pastorem uestrum despicere.” Qui adductus Dei inspiracione et sancti uiri instructione religionis habitum suscepit, et per modum literas didicit. Ipse est enim sanctus Oenius, uir uite uenerabilis: et, sicut sanctus ante predixit, fratribus per modum prefuit.
[Sidenote deg.17: R2 129d] [Sidenote deg.18: R1 164c]
17. Elapso denique tempore, quidam uir sanctus nomine Dompnanus,[ deg.17] Mumoniensis genere, ad uirum Dei uisitandum peruenit. Cumque ab eo sanctus Keranus causam aduentus scicitaretur, respondit se uelle locum habere in quo Dominum [habere in Deo R2] secure posset seruire. Sanctus uero Keranus, non que sua[ deg.18] [supra R2] sed que Ihesu Christi querens ait “Hic” inquit “inhabita, et ego Deo duce locum habitandi alibi queram.” Denique sacro eum comitante [conm. MSS.] conuentu ad locum eius a Deo premonstratum profectus est, in quo celebri ac famoso monasterio constructo quod hodie Cluaynensis [Claynensis R2] appellatur ciuitas insignium miraculorum luce ipse, tanquam sol mundum istum ita illuminauit.
18. De quorum miraculorum multitudine quedam hic subnectemus. Quodam tempore dum fratres in messe laborantes sitis periculo grauarentur, miserunt ad sanctum patrem Queranum ut aque [aqua MSS.] beneficio refocillarentur. Quibus per ministros ipse ait: “Vnum” inquit “de duobus eligite; aut aqua nunc uos recreati, aut hic post uos habitaturos rebus mundanis beneficiari.” At illi respondentes dixerunt “Eligimus,” inquiunt “ut illi qui post nos ueniunt in bonis temporalibus habundent, et nos tollerantie mercedem in celis habeamus.” Et sic futurorum spe gaudentes, a potu abstinuerunt, licet multum indigentes. Vespero uero illis domum redeuntibus, pius pater, laborancium lassitudinem compaciens, uas aqua plenum benedixit, et iam sanctum miraculum in Chana Galilee renoua[n]s, in optimum uinum transmutauit aquam. Quo uino siti deficientes recreati sunt, et in fide insoliti miraculi ostensione recreati laudes omnipotenti Dei dederunt. Huius enim uini miraculosi sapor solito graciosior erat, et odor in propinatoris pollice quamdiu suruixit redoleuit.
[Sidenote deg.19: R1 164d] [Sidenote deg.20: R2 130a]
19. Die quadam cum in uia incederet, nephandissimi latrones eum comprehendentes, caput beati uiri radere ceperunt. Set quod peruersitas hominis delere uoluit, diuina pietas ad magni mirac[u]li ostensionem conuertit. Rassorum enim capillorum loco alii statim capilli cresceba[n]t.[ deg.19] Quo miraculo latrones perculsi,[ deg.20] ad ueritatis semitam sunt conuersi, ac deinceps diuine milicie sub tanto duce seruientes, in sancta conuersacione uitam finierunt.
20. Alio tempore bonus pastor peccora pascens, tres pauperes ei occurrerunt. Quorum primo capam, secundo pallium, tercio tunicam contulit [secundo tunicam, tercio pallium eius tulit, R2]. Abeuntibus uero illis, uiri quidam, secularis uite professores, aduenierunt. A quibus quoniam uestimentorum expertum se uideri erubuit, adiutor in opportunitatibus Dominus aqua eum circumdedit adeo, quod preter caput nullum membrum illi uidere potuerunt. Sed postquam hii uiri transierunt, aqua ilia mox disparuit [desperauit MSS.].
21. Elapso post hoc tempore, quidam satellites diabuli uirum quendam iuxta monasterium eius commorantem interficere conabantur. Quem beato uiro pro eo orante Deus mirabiliter eripuit. Illi [illium MSS.] enim eundem uirum iugulantes statuam quandam lapideam percuciebant. Quo tandem percepto, latrones corde compuncti, ad pastorem animarum Queranum properant, culpam humiliter recognoscunt, atque uite sue emendato calle, sub iugo Christi usque ad mortem fideliter seruierunt.
[Sidenote deg.21: R2 165a]
22. Hiis atque aliis perplurimis gloriosissimus Christi miles tamquam luminare quod diei presidet fulgens, ad occasum naturalis cursus deueniens correptus infirmitate graui appropinquiuit. Sed quia qui perseuauerit usque in finem his salus erit, ideo athleta Christi, non solum se in bello huius certaminis confortans, uerum et animos ad uincendum inuitans, lapidem quo capiti supposito soporis modicum corpori hactenus indulgebat, humeris etiam fecit subponi; sanctamque eleuans manum fratres benedixit et uiatici salutaris perceptione munitus, spiritum celo reddidit. Exiens enim beata illa anima de corpore, chori angelorum [angelorum omitted R2] cum ympnis et canticis[ deg.21] illam in Dei gloriam assumpserunt.
[Sidenote deg.22: R2 130b]
23. Beatissimus quoque abbas Christi Columba, audito sancti Kerani obitu, egregium de ipso composuit ympnum: eumque ad [de MSS.] Cluaynense secum detulit monasterium, ubi prout decuit hospicio honorifice susceptus est. Ympnum uero abbas qui tunc preerat, ceterique qui eum audierant, multis et ma[ deg.22]gnis laudibus extulerunt. Discedens autem inde Sanctus Columba, de sacro sancti Kerani sepulchro humum secum detulit, sciens in spiritu quam utile hoc foret contra futura pelagi pericula. In parte enim maris que tendit uersus Iense monasterium, est maximum transeuntibus periculum, tum propter fluminum impetuositatem, tum propter maris angustiam, itaque naues circumuoluuntur, atque in rota mouentur; ac frequenter sic submerguntur. Scille enim atque Caribdi merito asi[mi]latur, uelim periculositate perfecta tristique [-teque MSS.] nautis malum ibi subministratur. Ad hoc eurippum ipsi peruenientes, repentino ceperunt in eum delabi cursu; quumque nil preter mortem [Quumque uelut propter mortem R2] sperantes, et quia iam quasi tetris essent abyssi faucibus deuorandi, tunc sanctus Columba prefati pulueris de tumba beati Kerani assumpti aliquid assumens, mare in ipsum immisit. Res mira ac nimium stupenda tunc accidit; dicto [uicto MSS.] namque cicius tempestas illa seua cessauit ac transitum eis tranquillum administrauit. Vere iusti in perpetuum uiuunt; cum quibus beatus Queranus corregnat, cuius sepulchri terra uel puluis mare sedauit [cedauit MSS.], corda trepidancium in fide solidauit, et ad bonum operandum irrigauit. Beatus ergo Keranus non solum uiuit Deo, cui inseperabiliter adheret, uerum et hominibus quibus beneficia oportuno tempore impendit.
[Sidenote deg.23: R1 165b]
Matre Quiarani sedente in curru uolubili [ deg.23]Sonitum magus audiuit perdixitque seruulis “Videte quis sit in curru, nam sub rege resonat.” “Coniunx” inquiunt “Beodi sedet his artificis.” Magus inquit “Gratum cunctis ipsa regem pariet, Cuius opera fulgebunt ut Phebus in ethere.” Miles Christi Keranus, Sancti sedes Spiritus, Spiritali pietatis uirtute floruerat.
Vitulum uacce lactentem iam cani concesserat,
Queranum inde grauiter mater reprehenderat;
Vitulum cane uoratum ab ipso exegerat,
Cuius ossa mox apportans ipsum restaurauerat.
[Sidenote deg.24: R2 130c]
Mulieris regie caput decaluatum Seue zelo pelicis fuerat nudatum. In Querani nomine cum esset signatum, [ deg.24]Aurea cessarie fulserat ornatum.
Cum Queranus studiis sacris teneretur,
Atque tempus posceret ut operaretur.
Pro ipso ab angelis tunc mola mouetur.
Textus euangelicus in stagnum ceciderat,
Sed uoluto tempore per Querani merita,
Integrum de gurgite uacca reportauerat.
Cum puer oraret Dominum, precibusque uacaret,
ignis ab excelsis uenerat arce poli.
Defunctusque puer conspexit lumina uite,
et sancti magnum glorificant Dominum [Deum MSS.].
De celis lapsus rutilans accenditur ignis,
et peragit proprium protinus officium.
Alto et ineffabili apostolorum cetui
Celestis Ierosolime, sublimioris specule,
Sedenti tribunalibus solis modo micantibus,
Queranus sacerdos sanctus, insignis Christi nuntius,
Inaltatus est manibus angelorum celestibus,
Consummatis felicibus sanctitatum generibus;
Quem Tu Christe apostolum mundo misisti hominem,
Gloriosum in omnibus nouissimis temporibus.
[Footnote 1: This word omitted in MSS.]
[Footnote 2: Omitted in MSS.]
[Footnote 3: Corrected by a note in the margin to illi.]
* * * * *
(For the leading incidents in the Life, see the list, pp. 11 ff.).
Aed mac Brenainn,
Aei. See Mag Ai.
Aengus maccu Luigse. See Oenna.
Aengussius. See Oengus.
Ailithir, abbot of Clonmacnois,
Ainmire mac Colgain,
Ainmire mac Setna,
Ainmireach. See Ainmire mac Colgain.
almsgiving, See also hospitality.
Angina. See Inis Aingin.
animals, See also resuscitation, hound.
Anmereus. See Ainmire mac Colgain.
Ara (Aran Is.),
Aradenses. See Dal nAraide.
Aran Is. See Ara.
Ard Machae (Armagh),
Ard Tiprat, See also Cluain maccu Nois.
Ay. See Mag Ai.
Bangor. See Beannchor.
Beannchor (Bangor, Co. Down),
Becc mac De,
benediction of food,
Beoanus, Beoedus. See Beoit.
Beonedus, Beonnadus. See Beoit.
Birra (Birr, King’s Co.),
birthplace of Ciaran,
boban, See also Bells.
Boecius, Boeus. See Beoit.
books and book-satchels,
books preserved from wet,
Brenainn of Cluain Ferta, St.,
Brigit of Cu Cathrach,
Cana of Galilee,
Carabine, Red Brian,
Cathach, a monster,
Cathacus, Cathi. See Inis Cathaig.
Cellach mac Eogain Beil,
Cenel Fiachrach, See also Cenel Fiachach.
Christ, parallels between lives of Ciaran and. See Tendenz.
Ciaran, passim. Poem attributed to,
Ciaran of Saigir, St.,
Ciaran, other saints called,
cloak floated on water,
cloak of Senan,
Clonard. See Cluain Iraird.
Clonmacnois. See Cluain maccu Nois.
Darerca, mother of Ciaran,
dates of Ciaran’s life,
dates of documents,
Derercha. See Darerca.
Dermag (Durrow, King’s Co.),
Dermicius. See Diarmait (deacon).
Diarmait, deacon, See also Iustus.
Diarmait mac Cerrbeil, king,
Dompnanus. See Donnan.
doors open automatically,
Donnan, brother of Ciaran,
druids, See also wizards.
Dun Cow of Ciaran,
Durrow. See Dermag.
dye and dyeing,
earth of Ciaran’s tomb,
elders, Cell of the, at Cluain maccu Nois,
end of world, beliefs regarding,
Enda, Endeus, Enna, Henna,
envy against Ciaran,
eye plucked out and restored,
Fidarta (Fuerty, Co. Roscommon),
Findian, St. (Finnianus),
Findian of Mag Bile, St.,
finger scented with wine,
flesh turned to wheat, See also transformations.
flocks, keeping of,
Fuerty. See Fidarta.
Furban, Furbith, king,
garments, genealogy of Ciaran, gifts made by Ciaran, See also almsgiving. Glas the poet, Gleann da Locha (Glendaloch, Co. Wicklow), glosses, gospel, reading of, gospels, See also books. grain turned to gold, See also transformations. Gregory, Pope, Guaire, king,
hair restored miraculously, harbour of island, meaning of expression, Hare Island. See Inis Aingin. harvesting, Helena, empress, Henna. See Enda. historicity of Lives of Ciaran, holy water, homiletic purpose of Lives, horse ploughing, hospitality, See also almsgiving. hound miraculously killed, Hyde, Dr. Douglas, hymn of Colum Cille, hymns to Ciaran, hypnotism,
Inis Aingin (Hare Island),
Inis Cathaig (Scattery Island),
Inis Muige Samh (Inismacsaint), See also Ninned.
Iona. See I.
Iustus, See also Diarmait, deacon.
Keranus, Kiaranus. See Ciaran.
Kiarraighe. See Ciarraige.
King, Adam, 8
kings of Ireland, 103
Kyaranus, Kyeranus. See Ciaran.
Laigen (Laginensea, Lagenians, Leinstermen),
Larne, See also Latharna.
Latronenses. See Latharna.
lepers and leprosy,
Lissardowlin. See Ard Abla.
Little Church of Cluain maccu Nois,
Little Height of Cluain maccu Nois,
Lives of Saints, their nature,
Loch Erne. See Erne, Loch.
Loch Rii. See Rib, Loch.
Lonan the Left-handed,
lucky and unlucky signs,
Lucoll (Lucennus, Luchennus, Luctigernnus),
Lugna maccu Moga Laim,
Mac Cuillind of Lusk,
manuscripts of Lives,
merchants of wine,
Mil of Spain,
milk, miraculous supply of,
mockery of druids,
Moin Coise Bla,
Muma (Mumenia, Munster, Mumunienses),
Ninned, St. (Nynnidus),
Nunnery, Cluain maccu Nois,
oats turned to wheat, See also transformations.
Odran of Letrecha Odrain,
Oengus mac Crimthainn,
Oengus the Culdee,
Oenna maccu Laigsi (Aengus, Oenius),
Paul and Peter, SS., relics of,
pedigree of Ciaran. See Genealogy.
periods of Ciaran’s life,
Port of the Gospel, See also Inis Angin.
priest, Ciaran consecrated,
Psalms, use of,
Queranus. See Ciaran.
quern, grinding at,
Quiaranus, Quieranus, Quiranus. See Ciaran.
raids on Cluain maccu Nois,
resuscitation of animals,
of murdered monks,
Rib, Loch (Loch Ree),
rule of St. Ciaran,
Saigir (Seir-Kieran, King’s Co.),
Scattery Island. See Inis Cathaig.
scent of wine on finger,
Segine, abbot of I,
Seir-Kieran. See Saigir.
separation of cows and calves,
Sinann (Sinna, Synna, Shannon),
Tailltiu (Telltown, Co. Meath),
Tara. See Temair.
Tech meic in tSaeir,
Teffia. See Tethba.
Temair (Tara, Co. Meath),
Tendenz of biographies of Ciaran,
Tir na Gabrai,
Toirdelbach o Briain,
tonsure, effacement of,
Tuathal Moel-Garb, king,
Tulach na Crosain,
Uis. See Iustus.
uncle, relationship of,
voice, recognition by, voice heard from long distance, voice from heaven,
water turned to honey,
to wine, See also transformations.
whirlpool, wine, Winefred, St., wizards, wolves, women, relations with,
Yseal, Ysseal. See Isel.
* * * * *
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED,