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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

THE narrative of the Tripartite seems to imply that Patrick went from Offaley to Ulidia—that is East Ulster, without making any stay at Tara or elsewhere in Meath. His road would take him near Dunshaughlin; and he certainly would not pass that episcopal city without visiting his nephew Secundinus, if he were then alive.

Now two very ancient authorities represent him as assistant bishop to his uncle for thirteen years. If these years are to be counted from 438, when the Chronicon Scotorum assures us that he came to Ireland as bishop, his death could not well have occurred before 451. Old Patrick, ‘the tutor of our Elder,’ is represented as next coadjutor to St. Patrick for two years. Benignus succeeded for ten years as destined successor of Patrick, which would bring us near 467, which is set down as the year of his death. We must bear in mind that in all these cases there is no question of actual succession to Patrick; they were merely assistant bishops, and destined successors of the great Saint, who long outlived them all. This is clearly stated in the catalogue of St. Patrick’s household given in the Tripartite, and is also implied in the ancient lists of St. Patrick’s successors, given both in the Book of Leinster and the Lebar Brecc, for the fifty-eight full years assigned to Patrick’s apostolate in Ireland, dating from 432, clearly include the periods assigned to his three immediate ‘successors.’ Moreover, again, as we shall presently see, there are good reasons for thinking that Sechnall accompanied Patrick on his journey northward, on this occasion, from Meath to Down. It probably took place in 455, so that it is not unlikely Sechnall lived until 457, as the Book of Leinster states, and such is our opinion.

After narrating the attempt to take Patrick’s life in Offaley, when Odran was slain in his stead, the Tripartite passes on immediately to mention his journey into Uladh, or Ulidia, by the ancient road called Midluachair. We know from the Dindsenchas that this was one of the five great roads leading from Tara, and, according to Petrie, it was the north-eastern road going to Ulidia, by Duleek and Drogheda. Now, various references in our Annals show that it passed from Tara to Slane, crossing the Boyne by the celebrated fords of Slane, and then it went due north by Collon, Ardee, Dundalk, and the Moira Pass, on the line of the present railway. This was undoubtedly the road of Midluachair, by which Patrick went either from Tara, or perhaps from Slane, into the land of Uladh, as the Tripartite tells us.






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