The Latin & Irish Lives of Ciaran eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 201 pages of information about The Latin & Irish Lives of Ciaran.
a prince for whom a feast was at the time being prepared on the mainland was divinely inspired to send it as a gift to the sacred island.  The saints partook of the banquet thus bestowed upon them; and while they were doing so, a small bell fell from heaven into their midst.  None of the three was willing to assert a claim to this gift over the other two; and after discussion they agreed to advance in different directions, and he who should continue longest to hear the sound of the bell was to be its possessor.  This test assigned the bell to Senan.  The shrine of this sacred relic (the bell itself is lost) is now preserved in the museum of the Royal Irish Academy, having been acquired from the last hereditary keeper by a generous donor.[20]

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.

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The Latin & Irish Lives of Ciaran from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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