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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

FROM Kilteely in Ara Cliach Patrick went into the subkingdom of Hy Fidgente, as it is called in the Tripartite. The territory took its name from a certain Fiach, or Fidach, who was a grandson of Oilioll Flanbeg, King of Munster, and it got the name of Fidgente from a wooden horse which he is said to have exhibited at Colman’s fair on the Curragh of Kildare. It was, therefore, royal tribe-land, exempt from tribute to the King of Cashel, and at that time it appears to have comprehended nearly the whole of the territory now included in the diocese of Limerick. The term Hy Fidgente was not then confined to the country west of the Maigue and Morning Star, for we know that the Church of Donaghmore, near Limerick, was in it; and the Tripartite clearly implies that Patrick leaving Ara Cliach came at once into the territory of Hy Fidgente, and into that part of it now known as the barony of Clanwilliam. The boundary line between the dioceses of Emly and Limerick really represents the division between those two ancient kingdoms; that is to say, it ran from near Limerick, east of Donaghmore, by Lough Gur to Ardpatrick, or, in other words, nearly due south from Limerick to the Ballyhoura hills. Bruree and Croom were the principal forts of the king of this extensive district; but, no doubt, he had strong places in other parts of his territory likewise. It is clear that Patrick did not go south on this occasion towards Bruree, but rather due west towards Knockainy Hill. Knockainy, a famous fairy hill, was on the borders between the two territories, and just at the base of the hill on the north there is a Patrick’s Well, which we may fairly assume was blessed by the apostle for the baptism of the people around Lough Gur—a district that still bears abundant evidence that it was a favourite residence of the ancient chiefs of the Hy Fidgente.

From this point Patrick went, so far as we can judge, due north to Knockea, or, as it is called in the Tripartite, Mullagh Cae. There is no probability, in O’Donovan’s opinion, that this was Seefin Hill, south of Ardpatrick. The whole context shows that Patrick was rather going north from Kilteely, that he travelled through Magh Aine to Donaghmore, and that Mullagh Cae was on his road thither. Magh Aine, which became a sub-kingdom afterwards, designated the large and fertile plain extending from Knockainy northwards to Limerick. It may be regarded as roughly co-extensive with the barony of Clanwilliam.

We quite agree with a local authority that ‘Knockea Hill, near Ballingarde in the parish of Fedamore, must be regarded as the Mullagh Cae of the Tripartite.’ It has the same name, it was on the direct route of the Saint to Donaghmore, it contains many traces of ancient dwellings on its slopes and summit, and if it were not the palace of the King of Hy Fidgente, he must have dwelt not far off to the west at Croom on the Maigue.






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