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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

Of the subsequent proceedings of Patrick in South Leinster, after the ordination of Fiacc, we know little. He did, however, we are expressly told, travel through the country, and found many churches and cloisters therein. Several of these still bear his name, and give us indications of his whereabouts at the time.

Finally he left his blessing to the Hy Cennselagh and to all Leinster, after which (at a later period) ‘he ordained Fiacc the Fair in Sletty unto the bishopric of the province,’ as we have already explained. Fiacc was not metropolitan at first, and was never metropolitan in the modern sense of the word; but it seems that Patrick gave him some kind of general authority over the churches of South Leinster, both bishops and clergy. Indeed, this would be only natural, as several of them were the disciples of Fiacc, scholars of his own teaching and monks of his own obedience.

A glance at the Ordnance map will show us some of the places visited by Patrick during these unrecorded journeys in South Leinster. We find a Kilpatrick and a Toburpatrick in the parish of Kilgorman, close to the seashore, in the north-east angle of the County Wexford We find another Kilpatrick in the parish of Kilnamanagh, barony of Ballaghkeen North, which shows that our Saint preached the Gospel south of Donaghmore, by the sea, for there are numerous traces of his journey through the northeast of Wexford; and, we believe, popular tradition is still vivid regarding his labours in this part of Hy Cennselagh. It is probable that St. Ibar, of Beg Eri, had already established a monastery in that island, or the neighbourhood, for he is one of the four saints who are said to have preached the Gospel in the south of Ireland before the advent of St. Patrick. If so, Patrick would prefer not to preach in his parochia, or district, seeing that he had more than enough of work to do elsewhere. Besides we are told that the Wexford saint was rather jealous of Patrick’s claim to jurisdiction over all Ireland, and was, only with great difficulty, persuaded to recognise it so far as it affected his own territory.

But the time now came for our Saint to cross the Barrow, and preach the Gospel beyond the hills of Slieve Margy. There were two famous fords across the river, one was at Athy, but there is nothing to show that Patrick returned so far north before going into Ossory. The second was the famous ford at Leighlin, which was the usual place for crossing the river from South Leinster into Ossory, by Bealach Gabrain; and there is every reason to think that it was at this point the Saint and his household crossed the stream, but the pass through the hills was about three miles south of the fort on the river, and the territory, from the pass on the west to the pass on the east of the Barrow, formed a part of Hy Cennselagh, as it still forms a part of the Co. Carlow. This great western highway to Cashel crossed the Nore at Ballyreddin, south of Kilkenny, and then bifurcated, one branch going northward on the right bank of the Nore. the other continuing westward, through the plain north of the King’s River, into Munster, as we shall presently explain at greater length.






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