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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

The next stage in Patrick’s journey brings him from Magh Slecht to the Shannon. His road lay due west by the roots of the Iron Mountain, on the line of the present light railway to Drumshambo, at the head of Lough Allen. It is a picturesque road, skirting many small but beautiful lakes, and affording several sweet glimpses of exquisite rural scenery. Tirechan says that Patrick came, due west, to the bed of the Shannon, where his charioteer Buadmoel by name, died, and was buried.

Patrick crossed the river at a place called Snám-dá-En, the Swimming Ford of the two Birds. O’Donovan says this Ford was near Clonmacoise, and that Patrick must have crossed the river there. There may have been a place of the same name at Clonmacnoise, but the narrative here clearly implies that he crossed over into Magh Ai, at Doogary, and near Tir Ailella, now Tirerrell, which anciently came as far south as the Boyle River, a tributary of the Shannon separating Magh Ai from Tir Ailella. We have carefully gone over this ground, and with the help of the parish priest easily identified all the places referred to in the narrative of the Tripartite. About one mile-and-a-half north of Battle Bridge the Shannon cuts through a ridge now called Drumboylan, forming at the point a considerable island. The stream here is very rapid, but shallow, and the steppingstones that formed the ancient ford may still be seen on the bank, foot-worn on the top and water-worn on the sides by the stream that surged around them for 2000 years. The Board of Works have recently cleared the river bed at this point, and so removed the stones. They erected at the same time a foot-bridge across the stream for the convenience of the people. When the river is full a fierce current runs beneath in the main bed of the river; yet an old man assured us, that although scores of people had fallen into the stream when the river was in flood, no one was ever drowned there, owing to St. Patrick’s blessing the ford. The tradition of his having crossed the river at this point is quite vivid in the minds of the people; and they also show where Buadmoel, Patrick’s charioteer, died on the right bank of the river, and also the green meadow on the brow of the ridge overlooking the Shannon, where he was buried, nigh to the little church that bore his name—Cell-Buaidmoel. The church itself has disappeared, but its site can still be traced, and human bones were quite recently found on the spot. It is said, too, in the village, that the very flag-stone on which he lay when he was dying is preserved in the floor of the house next the ford, which was probably built on the very spot, for the wall is now partially over the flag-stone. The name of the village—Drumboylan—is, undoubtedly, a corruption of Drum-Buaidmoel, a vocable easily shortened into Drumboyle or Drumboylan. From Drumboylan by the river’s ford, the old road led straight to Doogary, the ancient Duma Graid, called tumulum-Gradi, by Tirechan, in the Book of Armagh. The village is about two miles from the ford, and still bears its ancient name, but there are no traces of an old church; nor, indeed, is it stated that any church was founded there. But at this point it would appear that Patrick, before going further South, met the sons of Ailell, who crossed the Feorish River to greet him before he left their territory, and there he ordained Ailbe, ‘who is in Shanco’—Sen-chua—as a priest to minister to the sons of Ailell. The narrative seems to imply that Ailbe was ordained then and there. In that case he was in all probability at the time a member of Patrick’s religious family.






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