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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

Patrick, at Kilquire, a mile north of Kilmaine, saw a fertile and populous country before him, stretching away towards the north. We are only told, however, that the Saint went into Magh Foimsen, which has not been exactly identified, but which we take to be the plain east of Ballinrobe, yet south of the River Robe, towards Hollymount. There he found two brothers—Conlaid and Derclaid, sons of Coiliud. In the Tripartite they are called, perhaps, more correctly, Luchta and Derglam. The latter sent his servant to slay the intruding priest, Patrick, but Luchta, not without difficulty, restrained them from attempting to commit such a crime; whereupon Patrick said to Luchta, ‘There will be priests and bishops of thy race. Accursed, however, will be the seed of thy brother, and his offspring will be few.’ One of the standing blessings promised by Patrick to those who favoured the Gospel was nobility of clerics and of laics from their seed; the ‘curse’ on its opponents was to have neither temporal nor spiritual rulers of their race—an appropriate reward and just penalty.

Magh Foimsen appears to have been a sub-division of Magh Carra; if so, the chiefs even then were of the race of Fiachra, son of Eochy Moyvane, and brother of the renowned King Dathi. His eldest son, Earc Culbhuide—of the golden hair—inherited Carra ‘of the beautiful fruit,’ a fair and fertile land flowing with milk and honey. The sweet district of Magh na Beithighe—Plain of the Birch Trees—is fondly described as ‘a terrestrial fairy palace,’ where all delights abounded. He left in that place Priest Conan, of whom we know nothing else. The name is Irish so he was probably a native of the district whom Patrick had instructed in the usual way. His church was probably near Tobur Lughna, in the parish of Robeen. This Lughnat of Lough Mask, from whom the well gets its name, is said to have been a nephew of St. Patrick, and, doubtless, accompanied his uncle on this missionary journey. He loved this beautiful land of the lakes ‘where the hazel waved its hundred tendrils,’ and took up his abode there, and made it the place of his resurrection. But, late in life, he probably retired to that island in Lough Corrib, where his gravestone still stands.

Northward still went Patrick, between the lakes to Tobur Stringle, ‘in the wilderness.’ This is the place now called the Triangle, a corruption of the ancient name. It seems Patrick encamped there over two Sundays, baptising and instructing the people. But it is not stated that he erected a church at Tobur Stringle, either because it was a wilderness, or he could not procure a suitable site. From Tobur Stringle he went to visit a place further north called Raithin. It was the northern boundary of Carra, which extended from the River ‘Roba to Raithin;’ and the name is still retained in that of Raheen Barr, a town-land about two miles south-west of Castlebar. The railway runs close to the lake, which formed the boundary at this point.






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