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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

FROM this southern point of Ross St. Patrick crossed the shallow bar of Killala harbour into the western Bertriga, as Tirechan has it, or Bertlacha, as it is in the Irish text. We have the name still in the form Bartragh—‘the flowery Bartragh’—which is a long narrow sandy island ridge thrown up by the waves where they meet the river floods; and is divided into two parts by the tide at high water in our own time, just as it was in the days of St. Patrick. According to the Tripartite, ‘Patrick went from Bertlacha in the west to Bertlacha in the east of the estuary of the Moy over against the sea.’ Here again we see the wonderful accuracy in his topographical descriptions shown by the writer of the Tripartite—an accuracy which no subsequent writer has even attempted to imitate. The island, as we have said, and as the ordnance map shows, is divided into two islands at high water of spring tides. The Moy mostly flows past the eastern shore of the eastern island, which the river floods have thrown up against the sea waves; but at low water this eastern bar, like the western or Killala bar, is not more than three or four feet deep. Over or through this the Apostle and his companions crossed; but it seems in crossing ‘a girl was drowned before him there;’ and then he blessed the port or estuary, and said that no one should be drowned there for ever after—a prediction which, let us hope, will not too much encourage the bathers at Enniscrone to do foolish things. It is said, indeed, that not alone Patrick but Brigid, Muredach, Columcille and others blessed the port of Killala. Patrick’s blessing, however, seems to have been bestowed not on Killala Bay, but rather on the eastern estuary of the Moy along the Sligo shore.

Patrick also prophesied that this eastern Bartragh would belong to him, that is to his church of Armagh, ‘It stands in one of their histories—local histories—that in the day of war the king of that land shall call on Patrick, and he shall be victorious.’ It appears that eastern Bartragh and the Tireragh shore adjoining belonged to Prince Conall at that time. Prince Conall and his father had made at Tara an offering of their territory ‘to Patrick and to God;’ and so it came to be especially under the Saint’s protection.






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