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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

Tirechan adds that Patrick also founded a church in Magh Latrain, and a second called the Cell-mor Sir Drummo in Doburbar, a church of which the family of Devenish afterwards took possession. These churches have not yet been identified. The church in Magh Latrain was probably the old church at Laghy on the way to Donegal. But the locality of Kilmore Sir Drummo is still open to question. In our opinion it is somewhere in the parish of Templecarne, if it is not identical with the old church of Templecarne. The greater part of the parish was in the ancient Tirconnell, and still forms a portion of the barony of Tirhugh; yet it all belongs to the diocese of Clogher, because, as Tirechan says, the monks of Devenish came down upon it and kept possession of it. We must look for that Kilmore therefore somewhere in Templecarne parish or on its borders. It must have been from this point, too, that is Ballyshannon or Ballintra, that Patrick went to Lough Derg, and founded there his famous Purgatory. We know that he was in the habit of spending the Lent in retirement and penance, so nothing would be more natural than that he should retire there, perhaps, during his first Lent in Tirconnell, to strengthen his soul by prayer and gird himself for the great work that lay before him in the North; yet it is strange that no reference is made to the Holy Lake either in the Tripartite or in Tirechan, although the tradition of the Apostle’s stay there is so vivid and so universal throughout the whole North and West of Ireland. Here we merely observe that St. Patrick’s Cave was not in the present ‘Station Island’ in Lough Derg, but in that called the ‘Saint’s Island,’ and sometimes Island Dabheog. This saint was a disciple of St. Patrick, and it would appear that Patrick at his departure left Dabheog in charge of the religious establishment which grew up under his care on the island.

The Saint Dabheog here referred to, if he were indeed a disciple of St. Patrick, was himself of Welsh origin, being the son of Brecan, or Brychan, the great father of a host of Welsh saints, many of whom, as their father was of Irish origin, became themselves closely connected with Ireland. In this way we can easily understand how Dabheog became a disciple of St, Patrick, and was left by his master to take charge of the church and hermitage in Tirhugh. Another Saint Dabheog sprung from Dichu, son of Trichem, of the Dalfiatach race, is commemorated in our martyrologies, but he flourished at least one hundred years later than the time of St. Patrick.

It has often been considered strange that there is no reference to St. Patrick’s sojourn at Lough Derg in the ancient Lives. The Tripartite is, certainly, silent on the point, but we think the entry in the Book of Armagh points to the Saint’s sojourn at Lough Derg. The ‘great church,’ ecclesia magna—called Sir Drommo, which the Devenish community afterwards grabbed—shows clearly two things—first, that this foundation was a well-known church, and, secondly, that it was a church which became subject to Devenish, and, therefore, to the diocese of Clogher. This church must have been somewhere in the parish of Templecarne, for there is no other parish in the barony of Tirhugh belonging to Clogher. It was, therefore, most probably the old church of Templecarne, which stood close to the road from Pettigo to Lough Derg, and still contains a very large churchyard, although the ancient buildings have disappeared. The old road to Saint’s Island passed from this church by the south-western shore of the lake, and was known as the ‘Pilgrims’ Tochar’ or road to the Holy Island. There was an ancient church also on the Saint’s Island itself, but that probably was founded at a later period, when the pilgrimage became celebrated. Subsequently, an ‘Augustinian’ monastery was founded, and subsisted down to the year 1632, when the buildings were entirely defaced and destroyed.






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