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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

NOW, while St. Patrick is crossing the Bann into Dalaradia, it may be useful to give a sketch in this place of the territories of Uladh, as well as of the leading facts of their history.

As we have already seen, the name Uladh was originally given to the whole northern province, from the Drowes, near Bundoran, to the Boyne at Drogheda. But if it thus included Louth, it excluded Cavan; for that territory never became a part of the province of Ulster until the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Emania, near Armagh, was the capital or chief royal seat of the province, and its rulers for the most part belonged to the Clanna Rury (Rudhraighe), and were sprung from the royal line of Ir.

But in A.D. 352, as the Four Masters tell us, the famous battle of Achadh-leith-dheirg was fought between the three Collas and Fergus Fogha, which marks an epoch in the history of Ulster. The race of Rury were utterly defeated, their great palace of Emania was destroyed, the survivors were driven from central Ulster eastwards beyond Lough Neagh and the River Righe, or the Newry Water, as it has since been called.

Two Ulsters were thus created—the Ulster of the Collas, called Orghialla, and in later times Oriel, west of that boundary line, and the reduced Ulster, which retained the ancient name, but with less than a third of the ancient territory. This eastern Ulster is generally called in Latin Ulidia, whilst the name Ultonia designates, as a rule, the whole province.

Uladh or Ulidia, in this sense denoting all the territory east of the Bann and Lough Neagh and of the Newry Water, included the three ancient dioceses of Down, Dromore, and Connor, and their circumscription at the present day gives us quite accurately the limits of the ancient kingdom of Uladh after the destruction of Emania in 332.

But these three dioceses also represent very important sub-divisions of that kingdom of Uladh. The diocese of Down may be taken as representing the half-kingdom of southern Uladh in opposition to Dalaradia, which belonged with Dalriada to the diocese of Connor. In later times this half-kingdom of the more ancient Uladh appropriated that designation, so that Uladh meant the County Down with a small portion of Antrim. The diocese of Connor, on the other hand, included the whole of Dalaradia, and after a while, when the Dalriadans lost their own episcopal Church of Armoy, it included Dalriada also, that is, almost all the County Antrim—not quite all, however, for its south-western angle belonged to the diocese of Dromore, which also comprised that part of Uladh anciently known as the kingdom of Iveagh. It nearly corresponds at the present day with the two baronies of Iveagh, which fairly represent that ancient kingdom. This, however, was a later sub-division, for in the time of St. Patrick we find in the Kingdom of Uladh only three sub-divisions—Dalriada, Dalaradia, and Uladh—in its restricted sense as designating the County Down, with a small portion of Antrim.

It is necessary to define exactly the extent of these territories in the time of St. Patrick, and here the Tripartite itself is our best guide, for, as usual, its topography is confirmed at all points by our ancient Annals.

First, with regard to Uladh or Ulidia—when Patrick first came to Ulster he is described as sailing past Uladh into Strangford Lough, that is on his voyage from the Boyne Mouth. When he baptises Dichu at Saul the latter is said to be the first in Uladh who received faith and baptism from Patrick. But, on the other hand, when Patrick goes to Slemish to preach to Milcho, and, failing to convert him, returns again to Saul, it is said that he went back again into Uladh, thus clearly showing that Slemish was not in Ulidia, as understood by the author of the Tripartite; but Seapatrick, near Banbridge, was in Uladh, and in the diocese of Dromore; we also find that the Bishops of Down were sometimes called bishops of Ulidia, that is at a later date, when the diocese of Down had absorbed all the smaller sees around it except Dromore. We may take it for granted, therefore, that Uladh, as used in the Tripartite, did not include Dalaradia, but did include all the territory comprised in the two dioceses of Down and Dromore, that is to say, the whole County Down and that part of the County Antrim south of a line drawn from Whitehouse on Belfast Lough by the Clady Water to the north-eastern extremity of Lough Neagh. This part of Antrim includes the two baronies of Massarene on Lough Neagh as well as that of Upper Belfast.

On the other hand, the Dalaradia, or Dal Araide of the Tripartite, is bounded on the north by Dalriada, on the west by the Bann, on the south by Lough Neagh and the Clady Water. Slemish was in it, and Milcho is more than once described as King of Dal Araide, where it is clearly distinguished from Uladh, with which he had nothing to do. Hence, the Dalaradia of St. Patrick certainly included the barony of Lower Belfast, the two baronies of Antrim, the two baronies of Toome, and at least a portion of Glenarm.

The northern boundary line between Dalriada and Dalaradia is the Ravel Water, which, flowing south-west, becomes the Clogh River until it joins the Main. The Glenariff, falling into Red Bay, probably marked its southern boundary towards the sea, and the Bush River from its source to the sea formed its western boundary. But, at a later period, Dalriada certainly included on the one side the district between the Bush and the Bann, and on the south-east included the two coast baronies of Glenarm as far as the old church of Glynn, a little to the south of Larne. Dalriada, on the other hand, may be taken as including the two baronies of Dunluce, Kilconway, Carey, and Lower Glenarm. To put it in another way, Dalriada was the north-east of Antrim, Dalaradia was the centre of Antrim from the Bann to the sea, and Ulidia was the south of Antrim and the whole of the Co. Down. But these boundaries varied with the fortune of war, and we only give them for the time of St. Patrick. At a later period the men of Dalaradia had established themselves in the south of Antrim and in the north-east of Down, especially on the sea. The two races were also greatly intermixed—the Pictish element predominating in Dalaradia, while the Dal Fiatach, of Heremonian origin, were the leading clan and ruling tribe in Uladh. On the other hand, the Dalriadans were sprung from Cairbre Riada, son of King Conaire II., who was married to a daughter of Conn of the Hundred Fights. These things will serve to explain Patrick’s missionary labours in Antrim and Down.






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