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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

The second part of the Tripartite leaves Patrick at Donaghmore amongst the men of Imchlar. The old church was a little to the west of the modern town of Dungannon; but we believe no traces of the ancient building now remain. An ‘improving’ farmer in the north removes old walls of that kind to make his byres or his fences.

Then, in the beginning of the Third Part, after a misplaced paragraph referring to Armoy, in the Co. Antrim, the Tripartite brings Patrick to Telach Maine, which would be now Tullamain; but it cannot be, as Stokes suggests, Tullamain in the parish of Faughanvale, for the whole course of the narrative suggests its location as somewhere south of Donaghmore, on the road to Ballygawley, near the boundary between the dioceses of Armagh and Clogher. He found welcome there from Maine, son of Conlaed, ‘who showed great respect’ to the Saint, so that Patrick blessed him and blessed his wife, who became with child and brought forth two daughters. Patrick baptised them (afterwards, it would appear), and blessed a veil for their heads, and left an old man to teach them.

Then it is significantly added that Patrick did not proceed to Macha on this occasion, but went into ‘the district of Hy Cremthainn, in which he founded churches and cloisters.’ In other words, instead of going from Tullamain south-east into the kingdom of East Oriel, of which Armagh was the chief city, he went south-west into the kingdom of West Oriel, of which Clogher was the cathair, or chief city.

It is well to remind our readers here of what we have already explained at length, that the men of Oriel, who were of a different race from the men of Tirowen and Tirconnell on the west, as well as from the men of Dalaradia and Uladh on the east, were themselves divided into two kingdoms—the Eastern and Western Oriel. The King of the Eastern Oriel dwelt at Armagh; the King of the Western Oriel at Clogher, and their respective territories are even to this day fairly represented by the dioceses of Armagh and Clogher. The Kings of Oriel were, therefore, the rulers of central Ulster in its modern sense, that is, of South Tyrone, Monaghan, Armagh, a considerable portion of Fermanagh—and of Louth as far south as the Boyne. Most of this Oriel country in later ages came under the dominion of the Hy Niall princes, whose chief stronghold was at Dungannon, but we must not confound the more extended sovereignty of the princes of Tirowen, which they acquired in later times, with their more limited sovereignty in the time of St. Patrick. Derry even then practically belonged to the Hy Niall, but most of Tyrone did not.

There were twelve sub-chiefs in the kingdom of Oriel, exclusive of the Co. Louth, six of whom belonged to Western Oriel, that is, the diocese of Clogher, and six to Eastern Oriel, or the diocese of Armagh. When St. Patrick crossed the Bann and came into Hy Tuirtre, between Slieve Gallion and Lough Neagh, that territory was still regarded as belonging to Oriel, but the Hy Niall pressed on the descendants of the Collas, and, at a later period, drove both the Fer Li and the Hy Tuirtre from the western to the eastern shore of the Bann. In still later times O’Neill made Dungannon his chief residence and stronghold, which shows that the Hy Niall were pressing eastwards and southwards from their original seat at Ailech until they came to be recognised as lords paramount of the vast territory represented by the counties Derry, Tyrone, and Armagh, with a nominal kingship over the whole northern province.






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