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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

From Rashee the Saint appears to have journeyed into the ancient territory of Latharna, now Larne. It included the small barony of Upper Glenarm, comprising the parishes of Carnacastle, Killyglen, Kilwaughter, and Larne. It is stated that Patrick founded in Larne two churches—‘Telach, that is, Cell Conadain, and Gluare, and he left Mac Lessi therein.’

There can hardly be any doubt that the latter is the ancient church of Glore near Glenarm, for it not only retains the name but is still called St. Patrick’s Church by the people. Cell Conadain appears to take its name from a St. Conadan; but it was afterwards shortened into Conic, and is still known as the chapelry of St. Cunning in the parish of Carnacastle to the south of Glore. It may be, too, that ‘Telach’ is still preserved in Tullacur, an ancient vicariate in the same district. Mac Lessi, of the Irish Tripartite, is probably a mistake for Mac Nessi.

We are then told that he founded Glen-Indechta and Imlech Cluane in Semne—‘Coeman is therein—and Raith Episcuip Findich in the country of Hy Darca Chein.’ There can be no doubt that Glen Indechta is the parish of Killyglen, or Killglynn, as it is called in more ancient documents.

It is a very extensive parish; and the ruins of the old Patrician church occupied a highly picturesque site in a shady glen, from which the name was doubtless derived. The locality of Imlech Cluane in Semne is more open to question. Colgan thought it should be identified with Kill Chluana, or else Kill-Choemhain; and he places the latter in Hy Tuirtre, east, we presume, of the Bann. These names are, however, now unknown, according to Reeves, and, in our opinion, do not indicate the true site of this Patrician church. This Magh Semne was in Antrim, not in Down, and lay, according to O’Donovan, to the north of Magh Line. It was, therefore, the great and fertile plain in Lower Antrim Barony round Ballymena and Broughshane. About one mile south of Broughshane is the old churchyard of Rathcavan, or Racavan. Reeves says the word means the Rath of the Hollow; but it might also mean Rath-Coemhain, which would certainly be pronounced, as it is in Wexford and the Aran Islands, ‘Rath Cavan.’ Besides, Raths were not in hollows; and the place in question is the site of an ancient church in the very heart of Magh Semne. Hence we are, we think, justified in concluding that it was the church in which St. Coeman was placed by St. Patrick.

The last clause in the statement of the Tripartite is that Patrick founded ‘Raith Episcuip Findich in the country of Hy Darca-Chein.’ Colgan places this church in the valley of the Braid, to which Reeves strongly objects, as, according to him, that territory—Hy Darca Chein—was in the sub-Kingdom of Uladh ‘in the county of Down or on the confines of Down and Antrim.’ We can only say that, judging from the context, we think Colgan was right; but on the other hand we cannot show Reeves was wrong.

In our view Patrick went from Skerry to Glenarm, and thence along the eastern coast of Antrim southwards until he came to Larne, near to which he founded the ancient church of Glynn. From this point he turned to the west by the southern flanks of Slemish until he came to Rashee. Thence he went southwards to Templepatrick, from which he again went westward by Muckamore and Antrim to the bridge or ford at Toome. The Tripartite appears somewhat confused in narrating the order of events; but it is in most cases so reliable that it is not safe to reject it here.

What stirring memories must have crossed the mind of Patrick as he once more trod the heathery braes of Slemish. He remembered the years of his youth more than half a century ago, when he was a friendless, half-famished slave in the dark woods of Slemish. He thought of a later visit to the same familiar scenes some fifteen years before when he came to visit his old master Milcho, and saw his home in flames from the brow of the mountain. Now he returned again to those wild scenes of his youth, the recognised Apostle of all Erin from sea to sea. He had proclaimed the Good Tidings on the Hill of Tara, and thence to the far west of Mayo, and the remotest valleys of Inishowen, and now God brought him to preach with success to the people amongst whom he had dwelt as a fugitive slave. He felt indeed that, in his own touching words, God had raised him from the mire and placed him high as a very corner stone in the spiritual edifice of His Church. We may be sure that many a fervent ‘Deo Gratias’ rose to his lips as he thought on all these things; for we know that he felt in his heart what he proclaimed as the last word of his Confession, that verily and indeed it was all the gift of God.






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