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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

Donaghmoyne was on the southern limits of Cremorne, having to the south the neighbouring half-kingdom of Fir Roiss, which included not only most of the barony of Farney, but also extended into the neighbouring parts of both Louth and Meath. Hence Patrick, still going southeast from Donaghmoyne, came to the place called Enach Conglais, where he rested for a Sunday, ‘for it was not his custom to travel on the Lord’s Day.’ The tribe who dwelt there were called the Hy Lilaig, and they were about the worst type of Irishmen that Patrick had met hitherto—even worse than the Gregraide. They put poison in the curds, and then gave the cheeses to Patrick, hoping to destroy him; but he blessed the cheeses, and they were turned into stones. He left them as soon as he could, on Monday morning, giving them no blessing and founding no church in their land. But they followed him and his ‘familia’ with fifty horsemen, and sought to slay the Saint as he crossed the ford. Here, too, they failed, for God was with him. But when Patrick and his family had crossed, just in time to escape the assassins, he turned toward them, ‘on the hillock to the south of the wood,’ and whilst they were yet crossing the stream he raised his left hand, and said—‘Ye shall not come out of the ford on this side, nor shall you go out on that. But there in the ford you shall remain until the day of doom.’ The water went over them, and there they remain; whence the ford is called Ath Hy Lilaig for ever, in commemoration of their crime, even as the stone cheeses remain at Enach Conglais as a further testimony against them.

Enach Conglais appears to be the place still called Killanny-the church of the Enach—about three miles west of the town of Louth. The Saint’s road thence lay south across the Lagan to Rath Cule, a locality which still retains the name of Coole, and is situated a little south of the river in the barony of Lower Slane. It is not difficult then to determine the point at which the ford of the Lagan lay on the road from Killanny to Coole, in the district of Siddan. The ford was probably at the place now called the Lagan Bridge, near the junction of Louth, Meath, and Monaghan—for bridges are usually built at the ancient fords, where the water was shallowest and the foundation hardest.

Tirechan, however, omits all reference to these miraculous events, and brings Patrick direct from Donaghmoyne in Cremorne to visit Laeghaire and Conall at Tara. In any case, Patrick must have crossed the ford on his way to Tara, but there is no reference to it or to the miracles. He makes a very interesting statement, too, regarding Victor, whom Patrick had left as Bishop at Donaghmoyne. ‘Having left Machia,’ he says, ‘Patrick came to Mugdoirn and there ordained Victoricus Bishop of Machia—Machinensem episcopum—and he founded a great church there, and afterwards proceeded to Laeghaire and Conall, sons of Niall.’

Does this Macha, or Machia, refer to Armagh (Ard-macha), or to Hy Meith Tire, which was also called Hy Meith Macha? The latter seems the more probable reference, so far as we can judge. But, then, if he left Bishop Cilline in Tehallan, why should he consecrate Victor or Victoricus Bishop of Hy Meith Macha? We think this consecration of Victor, who was only then baptised, must refer to a later date, when Patrick consecrated him and gave him jurisdiction over the whole territory of Hy Meith Macha and Cremorne. Others, however, understand Macha to refer to the royal city of Armagh, which they say Patrick then founded, leaving Victor to rule the church in his absence. But Victor is not mentioned in any of the lists as a Bishop of Armagh in any sense, and, in our opinion, he never was assistant of St. Patrick there, but he was bishop of the territory, and that explains why some ancient authorities say Armagh was founded in A.D. 444, which gives us also the date of Patrick’s sojourn in Monaghan.






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