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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

Tirechan adds that ‘two maidens came to Patrick’—apparently in the same place—‘and they received the pallium from his hand, and he blessed a place for them at the wood of Focluth.’ The Tripartite is more explicit—it says he baptised the women, namely, Crebriu and Lesru, the two daughters of Gleru, son of Cummene. It is they that called to Patrick out of their mother’s womb, when he was in the isles of the Tyrrhene Sea. It is they that are patronesses of Cell-Forgland in Hui Amalgada, west of the Moy.

This is one of the most interesting passages in the life of St. Patrick. Some forty years before he came to these shores footsore and weary, a fugitive slave seeking a passage to Britain, and he lodged, he tells us himself, at Focluth Wood, in a poor cottage by the sea. There he saw the children, these very children of Gleru, whom he promised to instruct and baptise; theirs were the voices he heard calling him over the sea; and now he had come as he promised, after many years travelling over seas and mountains, bearing with him the message of salvation. Joyfully they came to him, grown up women now, but still unmarried, waiting all the long years, with their hearts filled with the hope of his return and the fulfilment of his promise that he would bring them to God. What a joy it must have been to him and to them when they knelt before him to receive from his hand that ‘pallium’ which was the bridal robe that made them spouses of Christ for ever. Then he built them a little church there by Focluth Wood in the hearing of the sea, and he blessed it ‘with the blessing of a father,’ and close at hand he built their little convent cells, where they spent the remaining years of their holy and joyous lives praising and serving Him who had so marvellously led them from the darkness of paganism into His admirable light.

Ten years in praise to God and good to men

That happy precinct housed them. Grief her work

In life’s young morn for them had perfected;

Their eve was bright as childhood. When the hour

Came for their blissful transit, from their lips

Pealed forth ere death, that great triumphant chant

Sung by the Virgin Mother. Ages passed;

And year by year, on wintry nights, that song

By mariners was heard—a cry of joy.

—AUBREY DE VERE.

They were the ‘patronesses’ of the church of Cell-Forgland, so, doubtless, it was there they lived and prayed, and there their relics rest. At one time I thought Kilroe was the church of the maidens twain; and it would be a satisfaction to know that even one of its broken walls still remained. It seems, however, from the narrative in the Tripartite, that Cell-Forgland was their church, and that its site was at Telach na n-Druadh ‘over’ the wood of Focluth, as we have already explained. The exact spot cannot, we fear, be now ascertained. But the name of Focluth Wood still remains. Foghill is yet the name of a townland beyond Killala in the parish of Kilcummin. It is undoubtedly the ancient name, modified as usual, and it shows that the ‘wood’ really extended from Crosspatrick along the low ground past Killala to Palmerstown, and thence to the head of the bay at Lackan. But the wood merely meant woodlands interspersed with open glades; and a glance even at the present aspect of the country will show that such must have been its character in ancient times. Some of the natives told me they remembered the time when portions of the ‘old wood existed.’ They exist still between Crosspatrick and Killala around Meelick Lake; but, so far as we could ascertain, nowhere else. The woods at Palmerstown appear to be modern plantations, which now occupy at least a portion of the ground occupied by that ancient Focluth Wood of immemorial fame.






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