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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

From the smiling Plain of Lemain, with its pleasant woods and waters, Patrick went to the territory of Hy Meith Tire, that is to the portion of it called Tech Talan. His route lay, no doubt, through the parish of Errigal Trough by Emyvale and Glaslough, until he came to the old church of Tehallen (Tech Telan), which gives its name to the modern parish, and is situated a little to the east of the town of Monaghan. The Hy Meith Tire of the Tripartite, that is the Inland Hy Meith, is so called in contradiction to Hy Meith Mara, in the Co. Louth, whose territory bordered on the sea. The latter still retains its ancient name under the form O’Meath, a district including some ten townlands between Carlingford and Newry. The inland Hy Meith Tire, called also Hy Meith Macha, because it bordered on Armagh, included the parishes of ‘Tullycorbet, Kilmore, and Tehallan,’ that is to say, that part of the barony of Monaghan east and south of the town of Monaghan, which is, perhaps, the most fertile and beautiful part of the country. The ‘House of Talan,’ which became the site of the Patrician Church, is, of course, no longer there, but the old churchyard was situated about three miles east of Monaghan, close to the road leading to Middletown.

We are told only of one incident that took place in this part of Hy Meith; but it cannot be denied that it is an extraordinary one. A sub-tribe of the district called the Hy Torrorrae stole, and, it appears, killed and ate one of Patrick’s two goats, which were employed to draw water for the Saint’s needs. When they were accused of the theft, and confronted with Patrick, they denied it on oath, perjuring themselves before the Saint. ‘But the goat bleated out of the bellies of the three, who attempted to deceive Patrick,’ whereupon he said—“By my troth, the goat himself announces the place where he was eaten.” “From to-day for evermore,” saith Patrick, “goats shall cleave to your children and to your race,” ‘which thing is fulfilled’; for, as the grave and learned Colgan informs us, the men of that race have goat-like beards, which mark them as the descendants of the goat-stealers who robbed Patrick! The story is, no, doubt, an amplification of the original tale; but it shows one thing which is interesting—that goats were sometimes used as beasts of burden to carry water from the well to the camp, but whether the pitchers were slung from their backs or their horns we have no means of knowing.

A certain Eugan, son of Brian, son of Muireadhach Meith, who gave his name to the territory, is said to have been king of Hy Meith at the time. He and his people believed with earnest faith in Patrick, whereupon the Saint blessed them with a cordial blessing. We are told, too, that so strong was the faith of the king that he entreated Patrick to raise to life his grandfather Muireadhach, who must have been some years dead. Patrick raised him to life, baptised him, and then buried him at a place called Omne Rende, on the borders of Mugdoirn and Hy Meith; ‘but the place of burial belongs to Mugdoirn,’ adds the Tripartite. It is difficult to account for the origin of a story like this, which is so much opposed to the common teaching about the necessity of baptism before death; and it proves clearly that the inventor was no theologian. The place of burial is said to have been somewhere near Castleblaney, but, as far as we know, there are no local traditions now that recall this strange story. The locality, however, is at present not one likely to preserve the ancient traditions of the Irish saints.






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