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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

St. Domangart was, however, the most famous of all these saints; and the Tripartite adds the curious statement that ‘Patrick left him (alive) in his body, and that he will live therein for ever.’ Elsewhere the Tripartite states that Domangart is one of the keepers whom Patrick placed on the highest hill-tops of Erin, to watch over the land until doomsday, that he dwells in Slieve Slange—called from him Slieve Donard—and that he will upraise Patrick’s relics shortly before the doom. His church is Rath Muirbuilc on the side of Slieve Slange, ‘and there is a larac with its belongings, and a pitcher of beer before him on every Easter, and he gives them to the mass-folk on Easter Tuesday always.’ This is a very curious passage; and what is stranger still, it is confirmed by a still living tradition. The saint’s church of Rath Muirbuilc, now called Maghera, was at the foot of the mountain near the sea, but he had also an oratory on the very summit of the hill. The tradition is that a subterranean passage connects the two, that the saint dwells within the mountain, and was seen there in his robes by some men who entered the cave at the foot of the hill, but they were warned off by the saint; that he still says Mass on his altar on the lone mountain summit, and so keeps his long vigil till the day of doom, praying for Erin and watching far and wide over the land. No doubt the larac and the beer are the provisions of which even saints must eat, more or less, whilst they are in the flesh, and they are provided for His servant on Slieve Donard by the same Power Divine that fed Elias and Anthony in the wilderness. But how he ‘gives the fragments to the mass folk on Easter Tuesday always’ does not appear.

There are still two ruined caves on the hill, one of which was the reputed monument erected in pre-historic times to Slainge, son of Partholan, who was buried there. The other was the oratory of St. Domangart, where he certainly said Mass and prayed of old; and where pious pilgrims still kneel to perform their devotions in honour of the saint. In one sense at least he has for many a year kept watch over his beloved Uladh by land and sea. Many a foe has swept that fair land with fire and sword since John De Curci first swooped down on the fields of Lecale. Later still, a strange race and a new religion destroyed all the ancient shrines of Uladh, and the chiefs of the Clanna Fiatach and Clanna Rury are lords of the land no more; but, during all the dreadful time, faithful souls of the ancient race were found to climb the steeps of Slieve Donard, and pray at his mountain shrine, gathering new strength and courage before its broken altar. There at least they were free to pray; and as they rose from their knees, and looked out over that glorious vision by land and sea, where the saints of their own race so often prayed, and their warriors bled, a new light shone in their eyes, and a new hope filled their hearts, which nerved them to continue the long struggle with their ruthless tyrants. No, the saint was not dead; they felt his presence on the holy mountain; he gave them strength and courage, and food for their souls if not for their bodies also.

The death of Domangart is given under date of 507. If that be the true date and if he were indeed a child in his mother’s womb at the time of St. Patrick’s quarrel with his father, that event most probably took place before the founding of Armagh, and is given here in its natural sequence.

It may be that at the time old King Muiredach was still alive, and that Eochaid was merely the tanist heir-apparent, but with great power within his father’s territory—and such is our opinion.






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