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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

We are then told that Patrick went to Fininne, to the north-west of Domnach Mor, a hill from which is seen the country to the north of the Shannon (Luimnech). It is, doubtless, said to be north-west because the traveller goes first to the river, which is to the north from Donaghmore, and then travels west to Fininne. There can be no doubt that it is the hill a little south of Foynes, now called Knockpatrick. It rises to the height of 574 feet over the level of the river, and it is the only hill south of the Shannon from which Patrick could obtain that far-reaching view over the County Clare described in the Life of St. Senan. It is said he viewed the land and blessed it northwards as far as Slieve Elne, and eastwards as far as Echte—now Slieve Aughty, between Clare and Galway. Pointing also ‘to the green island in the west, in the mouth of the sea,’ that is Scattery Island, he foretold how Senan would dwell therein, and be the light of God’s household there, and the head of the counsel of all their country round about. Patrick’s Well is still to be seen at Knockpatrick, and the ruins, or rather the site of the ancient church, is marked on the map, and is surrounded by a very extensive graveyard.

It is probable that there was another Donaghmore in this neighbourhood, and that it was near Patrick’s Well, for it is said in the Life of St. Senan that Bole of the Cinel Dine, King of the Corca Baiscinn, came over the river from the north in a great sea fleet, and invited Patrick to cross Luimnech, and preach and baptise in his country. But Patrick baptised them in the well or in the river, as the Life says, and then blessed themselves and their country from the top of the hill of Knockpatrick. It is more likely this visit took place at Foynes than at Limerick, and that there was a second church called Donaghmore which Patrick founded in that district for the Western Hy Fidgente, which by its description seems to be different from the Domnach Mor Maige Aine referred to before—this is called Domnach Mor Cinel Dine. It was most likely the church whose site may still be traced on the summit of that hill overlooking the rushing tides of the Shannon, and which appears to have been for ages a favourite burying place for the people of that district. It is a very commanding site, rising so high over the river, and affording a noble prospect of the wide-spreading Shannon, with the dark hills of Clare in the distance.

From Knockpatrick we are told that Patrick went southwards towards Slieve Luachair, but he did not cross Luachair to go into West Munster. He prophesied, however, of Brenainn or Brendan Maccu Ailte, who was to be born there thirty years afterwards. The text has cxx., but the c. is clearly a mistake of the transcriber for x. As Brendan was born in A.D. 484, this would give us 453 or 454 as the year of Patrick’s preaching in West Limerick, which we know from other sources must be very near the truth. Slieve Luachair was the great range of hills that bound the plain of Limerick on the south, sweeping round in a semicircle from the Shannon at Tarbert, and gradually growing wilder and higher towards Abbeyfeale, east of which they rise up as a great mountain wall all along the south of Limerick to Charleville. Patrick had no desire to bring himself and his family over this wild range into the remoter valleys to the west of Kerry, especially as he knew that Brendan was the destined evangelist of that country in which he was to be born within a period of thirty years. Kerry is one of the two or three counties in Ireland into which St. Patrick never penetrated; Clare is another, and we find few traces of the Saint either in Cork or Waterford, except, perhaps, on their northern borders.






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