Sunday, 6 August 2017

Saint Ailbe and the Foundations of the See of Emly

The Church and Cross of Saint Ailbe
at Emly, County Tipperary

From Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish hierarchy: with the monasteries of each county, biographical notices of the Irish Saints, prelates, and religious, 1856, c. xx, pps. 194-5.

The see of Emly was founded by St. Ailbe about the year 464. He was a native of Eliach now called Eliogarty in Munster and became a disciple of St. Patrick about the year 445. St. Ailbe is represented by some as a bishop exercising episcopal functions in Ireland before the arrival of the apostle of the nation. Such a statement is at variance with the testimony of Prosper Tirechen and other authorities and with the chronology of the Irish annals which state positively that his death took place in the year 527. Tirechen, one of the most accurate writers of our country, has recorded that Ailbe was ordained priest by St. Patrick. St. Ailbe lived under the pious king Aengus and, having erected his cathedral on a convenient site which that prince had presented, he soon after laid the foundation of a monastery and college in which human and heavenly science was taught gratuitously and to which students from all parts of Europe resorted. Among the number of eminent persons who received their education under Ailbe are reckoned Colman of Dromore and Nessan of Mungret. St. Ailbe justly revered for his piety and sanctity was looked upon as another St. Patrick and a second patron of Munster. He is deservedly ranked among the fathers of the Irish church. Ailbe, in his humility, desirous to avoid the respect which was shown him, resolved to retire to the Island of Tyle in Iceland, but the king who was unwilling that his people should be deprived of the eminent services which his presence would confer, prevailed on him to return to Emly. Twenty-two of his monks were allowed to pursue their journey in order to enlighten the inhabitants of this distant region in the glad tidings of redemption. During the incumbency of St. Ailbe, a synod was held at Cashel attended also by the king and the chiefs of the Desii. St. Declan of Ardmore was present. Many valuable decrees regarding morals and ecclesiastical discipline were enacted.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Pilgrimage to St. Ailbe's Church, Emly

There is no doubt that St. Patrick's place as Apostle of the Irish is unassailable and it was a joy to share in the National Latin Mass Pilgrimage to his shrine at Armagh last month. However, it is equally incontrovertible that the faithful of Munster - and really of all Ireland owe a debt of gratitude to Saint Ailbe, a debt that we made some effort to repay today by means of a pilgrimage to his Church, built upon the site of his Church and monastery, at Emly, Co. Tipperary.

Our Pilgrimage culminated in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form the Roman Rite.

Samuel Lewis' Topographic Dictionary of Ireland tells us that the ancient geoographer Ptolomy referred to Emly in his second century writings as "Imlagh" one of the three principal towns of Ireland. St. Prosper of Aquitainerecords that Pope Celestine sent Palladius in 431 "to the Scots believing in Christ, to be their first bishop"

We know of four pre-Patrician Saints of Ireland, St. Ailbe of Emly, St. Declan of Ard More, St. Ciaran or Abban and St. Ibar. In the life of St. Declan he is "secundus Patricius et patronus Mumenie" a second Patrick and Patron of Munster.

The Rule of St. Ailbe, a rule of life for his monks, is still extant in 58 verses:
Let him be steady, let him not be restless, let him be wise, learned, pious; let him be vigilant; let him be a slave; let him be humble kindly.

Let him be gentle, close and zealous, let him be modest, generous and gracious; against the torrent of the world, let him be watchful, let him not be reproachful; against the brood of the world, let him be warlike.

The jewel of baptism and communion, let him receive it.

Let him be constant at prayer, his canonical hours let him not forget; his mind let him bow it down without insolence or contention.

A hundred genuflections for him at the Beata at the beginning of the day… thrice fifty psalms with a hundred genuflections every hour of vespers.

A genuflection thrice, earnestly, after going in past the altar rail, without frivolity and without excitement, going into the presence of the king of the angels.

A clean house for the guests and a big fire, washing and bathing for them, and a couch without sorrow.
The monastery at Emly became the seat of the Diocese of Emly in 1118 at the Synod of Ráth Breasail. The diocese was placed into the administration of the Archdiocese of Cashel after its last Bishop, Blessed Terence O'Brien, was martyred in 1651.

This place, noticed under the name of "Imlagh" by Ptolemy, as one of the three principal towns of Ireland, is of very remote antiquity, and was formerly an important city and the seat of the diocese. A monastery of canons regular was found here by St. Ailbe, or Alibeus, who became its first abbot, and dying in 527, was interred in the abbey. His successors obtained many privileges for the inhabitants. The abbey and town were frequently pillaged and burnt. King John, in the 17th of his reign, granted the privilege of holding markets and fairs in the town, which, since the union of the see of Emly with that of Cashel in 1568, has gradually declined, and is now comparatively an insignificant village, containing only 115 houses. It has a constabulary police station, and fairs are held on May 21st and Sept. 22nd.

The present Church was built about 1880 and houses a stunning collection of stained glass windows, well worth visiting.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Pilgrimage to Emly, Co. Tipperary

On 22nd July, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, our Association will make a pilgrimage to the ancient See of Emly in honour of St. Ailbe, the Proto-Saint of Munster. You are cordially invited to attend a Traditional Latin Mass including Gregorian Chant and Traditional Hymns in the Church of St. Ailbe, Emly, Co. Tipperary, at 3 p.m. on Saturday, 22nd July, 2017.

Monday, 3 July 2017

St. Patrick's Mission at Cashel and through Munster

From Fr. Thomas Walsh's Ecclesiastical History of Ireland c. xx, pps. 188-192

St. Patrick having finished his mission at Ossory proceeded without delay to Cashel where the kings of the province usually resided. On approaching the city it is related that the king came to greet him and having given him a welcome salutation conducted the apostle to his court. The period assigned to the transactions of St. Patrick in Munster is about the beginning of the year 445. The king who thus cordially received the saint is said to have been Aengus, the son of Natfraich, a prince who has been for his zeal and piety highly commended by many ancient writers. Although his conversion cannot be controverted yet his accession to the throne seems to belong to a later period as the king Aengus was killed in the battle of Carlow which was fought according to the Four Masters AD 489. Aengus must have been then very young and it is probable that the prince or king of Cashel who paid attention to St. Patrick was Natfraich himself. Though he is not spoken of as a convert to the Christian faith yet he might have shown this courtesy to the apostle as a stranger of rank and one who was so particularly favored with the protection of Heaven and have permitted him to preach the gospel to his subjects as well as instruct his own children. However, this be Aengus was instructed in the faith and on his accession to the throne which he occupied thirty six years became highly instrumental in spreading the faith throughout Munster.

The celebrated anecdote of the prince's foot having been pierced by the staff of St Patrick it seems did not occur in the act of baptism as the sacred rite was then administered by immerson but rather when the saint was imparting his blessing to Aengus who approached too closely to the apostle in his desire to obtain such a favor. The prince when asked by St. Patrick why he had not given some indication of the pain he had felt replied that he submitted to the piercing of his foot as a part of the ceremony and accordingly bore it with patience.

St. Patrick it is said converted several other persons of distinction at Cashel and after this prosperous beginning at head quarters set out for other regions of the province preaching the gospel baptizing new converts reviving the faith of those who were already Christians erecting churches and appointing pastors. Hence we can legitimately infer that St. Patrick had some precursors in the southern parts as there were Christians in Ireland before the arrival of St Palladius, the predecessor of St Patrick. It is said that a synod was then held at Cashel and that certain regulations were entered into regarding the sees of Cashel, Ardmore, Saigir and Begerin, over which Ailbe, Declan, Kieran and Iber presided before the arrival of St. Patrick. Had such proceedings taken place they would not be omitted in all the lives of St. Patrick and again none of those saints was raised to the dignity of bishop at this early stage of St. Patrick's preaching in the south of Ireland.

That there had been some murmuring against himself the apostle hints in his confessions probably originating in a spirit of jealousy which might have influenced some of the Christians who were there prior to his mission and perhaps some of those cavillers belonged to the clerical order as St. Patrick wished to impress that he had with great risk visited even the remotest places into which no missionary had ever before penetrated.

The first district which St. Patrick visited after his departure from Cashel was seemingly the extensive and flat country between Cashel and Limerick. Here he is said to have founded several churches and to have left some of his disciples to preside at one of them called Kill fheacla. Thence he went to the territory of Ava Cliach in the now counties of Tipperary and Limerick in a part of which, the barony of Coonagh, he was at first violently opposed by the dynast Olild but, in consequence of a miracle which was in accordance with St. Patrick's orders to his disciples Ailbe and Ibar obtained through their prayers, the dynast his family and subjects are said to have been converted and baptized. While the apostle remained in the territory of Ara Cliach he foretold, we are assured in the Tripartite, various circumstances relative to future transactions in the country and among others the foundation of a monastery at Kill ratha and of a church at Kill Teidhil.

We next find the apostle in a tract lying to the east of Limerick and where he was hospitably entertained by a chieftain of the name of Lonan and there met the young Nessan who is well known in the annals of the Irish church. Some of the inhabitants of North Munster or Clare hearing of St. Patrick's visit to their vicinity crossed the Shannon for the purpose of seeing him and who when instructed in the Christian religion were baptized in the field of Tirglass. He was also waited on by Carthen son of Blod, the prince of North Munster and progenitor of the O'Briens of Thomond. Having ascended Mount Fentine near Donoughmore and viewing the country of Thomond he blessed it and foretold the birth of St. Senanus of Inniscatha. Afterwards the saint went to Luachra and while in that district he is said to have prophecied that the great patriarch of monks and star of the western world would be born in West Munster, viz., St Brendan of the race of Hua Alta and that his birth would be several years twenty after his own death.

It seems that he did not continue his course to any other part of West Munster and turning back from Luachra he directed his steps towards Desmond or South Munster. Concerning his transactions in this region we have nothing even on which to found conjecture. He is said to have visited the southern part of the Desii (Waterford) and with the assistance of the chieftain Fergar and his nobles to have not without much trouble arranged the ecclesiastical affairs of the territory. When near the banks of the Suir he was kindly received by the inhabitants and continuing thence his journey through the now county of Tipperary proceeded to lower Ormond, where he converted among others two brothers of a powerful family Munech and Meachair, their eldest brother Furech remaining an obstinate infidel.

Having now spent seven years in the southern province of Ireland he set out for Leinster and was escorted by the chieftains and people in multitudes from all parts of the country who wished to obtain his benediction and which from an eminence he cheerfully bestowed on them and on all Munster. About the year 452 the apostle took his departure from Munster. The bishop without fault, as the Four Masters call him, Secundinus whom St. Patrick had left to watch over the churches of Meath and the northern parts was already dead having departed this life on the 27th of November 448 and in the 75th of his age. He was a very wise and prudent prelate and the first that died in Ireland. Having, it is said, expressed disapprobation of the disinterestedness which St. Patrick observed in refusing donations or grants of land by which, according to the views of Secundinus, he might support a large number of holy persons, the saint, having explained the reason of his not accepting of presents or grants of any value lest the incredulous should defame his ministry, the holy bishop sought forgiveness and expressed his sorrow. According to some accounts it was on this occasion of his pardon by the saint that he composed his hymn in honor of St. Patrick.

It is very probable that the horrid transaction which moved St. Patrick to write his letter against Coroticus occurred before his departure from Munster and in some part of its south eastern seaboard, as that tract lay convenient for the expedition of that prince against the Irish coast, as after his departure to the north St. Patrick is not found preaching in any region of the maritime part of Ireland south of Louth. The prince Coroticus, though apparently a Christian, as St. Patrick excommunicated him and his followers was a tyrant a pirate and a persecutor.

He landed with a party of his armed followers at a season of solemn baptism either Easter, Whitsuntide or the Epiphany, for on this last festival the sacrament of regeneration was solemnly administered in Ireland, and set about plundering a district in which the saint had just conferred that rite as well as that of confirmation on a great number of converts. Having murdered several persons those marauders carried off a considerable number of people whom they sold or delivered as slaves to the Scots and to the apostate Picts, who were then probably on a similar expedition in Britain and who were about the year 450 obliged to return to their own country, vanquished by the Saxon auxiliaries whom the Britons invited to become their protectors.

The saint had written a letter, not extant, which he had sent with a young priest instructed by himself from his younger days to the pirates, requesting of them to restore the baptized captives and a portion of the booty. The letter not regarded, the bearer and his companions treated with scorn and mockery, St. Patrick was placed under the necessity of issuing a circular epistle in which he announces himself a bishop, and established in Ireland, and proclaims to all those who fear God that the said murderers and robbers are excommunicated and estranged from Christ, that it was not lawful to show them civility to eat or drink with them or receive their offerings until, sincerely repenting, they made atonement to an offended God and liberate his servants and the handmaids of Christ. He begs of the faithful into whose hands his letter may happen to come to have it read before the people and before Coroticus himself and to communicate it to his soldiers in the hope that they and their master may return to God.

In his expostulation he affectingly observes that the Roman and Gallic Christians are wont to send proper persons with large sums of money to the Franks and other pagans for the purpose of redeeming Christian captives, while on the contrary the monster Coroticus made a traffic of the members of Christ to nations ignorant of a supreme Being. Whether the remonstrance or the sentence of St. Patrick produced any effect or change in the conduct of this tyrant is not known.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

National Latin Mass Pilgrimage to Armagh 2017

To mark the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum the Catholic Heritage Association of Ireland made our second pilgrimage to St. Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh.  A report of the first pilgrimage can be read here.  It was a truly National Pilgrimage with members coming from Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Monaghan, Wexford and Wicklow - the Four Provinces of Ireland all represented - to assist at Holy Mass and attend our Annual General Meeting held afterwards in the Synod Hall attached to the Cathedral.

However, one element of the pilgrimage above all made it a most blessed occasion, the presence of His Eminence Seán, Cardinal Brady, Archbishop Emeritus of Armagh, to celebrate the Mass.  In his homily, Cardinal Brady reminded the congregation that the Traditional Latin Mass had been the Mass of his Altar service, of his First Communion and Confirmation, and of his Ordination and his First Mass.  He also reminded us that this day, the feast of St. John the Baptist, was his own feast day.  Cardinal Brady is to attend the Consistory on 28th June with Our Holy Father, Pope Francis.  His Eminence was assisted by Fr. Aidan McCann, C.C., who was ordained in the Cathedral only two years ago.  It was a great privilege and joy for the members and friends of the Catholic Heritage Association to share so many grace-filled associations with Cardinal Brady and Fr. McCann and the Armagh Cathedral community.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Tipperary Priory

From Fr. Thomas Walsh's Ecclesiastical History of Ireland c. lxi, p. 674

Tipperary in the barony of Clan William gives name to the county. The Eremites of St. Augustine were here established in the reign of king Henry III AD 1329. O'Brien burned this town. Donagh O'Cuyrke, the last prior surrendered to the inquisitors of Henry VIII, being then seized of the same, his church, chapter house, dormitory, hall, two chambers, an inner chamber, kitchen, stable, cemetery, garden with twenty three messuages, thirteen gardens, forty four acres of arable land, a mill and dam in Tipperary and eight acres of arable, ten of pasture, with their appurtenances in Clonfad, annual value besides reprises 20s Irish money. Henry VIII granted this priory and its possessions to Dermot Ryan for ever at the annual rent of 8d Irish money.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Cormac MacCulinan and the Foundations of the See of Cashel

From Fr. Thomas Walsh's Ecclesiastical History of Ireland c. xx, p. 191-194

The see of Cashel was founded in the tenth century by Cormac MacCulinan in whose person the mitre and sceptre were united. Before the time of this prelate, Cashel, though the residence of the kings of Munster, was subject to the jurisdiction of the see of Emly. In the council of Kells held in 1152 under Cardinal Paparo, Cashel was raised to the archiepiscopal dignity and its prelate invested with the pallium it then ranked next to Armagh and St. Malachy desired to have this mark of distinction which the pallium conferred bestowed on this see as well as Armagh. Cormac erected a cathedral in Cashel which according to the annals of the island of All Saints was afterwards rebuilt and consecrated with great solemnity.

Between the founder Cormac and the council of Kells only four of his successors are mentioned their acts and those of other eminent ecclesiastics having been completely destroyed. Cormac MacCulinan was born in the year 837 and was of the Eugenian branch being lineally descended from Aengus who had been baptized by St Patrick. Having received an ecclesiastical education under Snegdus the erudite abbot of Castle Dermot, he was admitted to holy orders and it seems was after a certain period raised to the episcopacy on account of his extraordinary merit as it was customary in the Irish Church to promote persons who were distinguished to that rank in places where previously no bishops presided.

Some conjecture that he had been bishop of Lismore before his removal to Cashel as a Cormac son of Culinan is stated to have been bishop of that see in those times nor is it easy to admit two bishops sons of Culinan as contemporaries at Cashel and Lismore.

Kingeagan who then swayed the sceptre of the province having incurred the displeasure of his subjects was deposed from that throne of which he obtained possession in the year 895 and Cormac was called to occupy it by his opponents in 901. Some time however elapsed before Cormac obtained quiet possession of the sovereignty. In 902 when Feongaine son of Gorman king of Cashel was slain in a contest by his own people, Cormac the year after obtained the throne without opposition and thus the spiritual and temporal authority were united in the person of Cormac nor was such an union unknown in his days as Olchobair who died in 851 and Cinfeled who departed life in 872 were kings of Munster and bishops of Emly...

Unhappily at this period a martial spirit pervaded the Irish clergy which was so contrary to the feelings of their predecessors it originated in the contests with the Danes and in which the clergy were of necessity involved as they were frequently obliged to take up arms and defend themselves and their establishments against those savage and ruthless invaders. A desperate battle was fought in which Cormac was slain by one Fiacha a herdsman and along with him the abbots MacEogan and Colman, Kelly the prince of Ossory, Fogarty prince of Kerry and about six thousand of Cormac's forces were put to the sword. Before the engagement Cormac made his confession to Comghall and also prepared his will in which he bequeathed sacred ornaments and utensils gold and silver to various churches and religious places, Cashel, Lismore, Emly, Armagh, Kildare, Glendaloch, Inniscathy and Mungairid. It is said that his body was conveyed to Cashel and there interred According to another account he was buried at Castledermot. This prelate was the author of the celebrated work the Psalter of Cashel in which the ancient events of Irish history are chronologically treated.  He also compiled an Irish glossary and a work on the genealogies of the Irish saints. Cormac erected a small but beautiful chapel on the summit of the rock in the city of Cashel. Cormac MacCullenan governed the province of Munster for the space of seven years and during his reign acquired the character of a just and learned prince. Fortune smiled upon him his power was dreaded and by his subjects he was revered because of his many virtues.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Latin Mass in Ballyhea for Easter Monday

Ballyhea lies just south of Charleville, Co. Cork, in the lea of the Ballyhoura Mountains and along the waters of the Awbeg River, the tributary of the Blackwater once immortalised by Edmund Spenser as "gentle Mullagh".  On Easter Monday morning, some members and friends made their way to the Parish Church of St. Mary for the offering of the almost monthly Traditional Latin Mass there.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Latin Mass Pilgrimage to Bansha 2017

For the feast of the Annunciation there couldn't have been a nicer place to visit than Bansha, County Tipperary. We renewed old friendships when we made a pilgrimage to honour the feast of Our Lady in spring in glorious sunshine to the Glen of Aherlow at the feet of the mighty Galtee Mountains. We were treading in the footsteps of our forefathers such as the great Seathrún Cétinn, Geoffrey Keating, the great chronicler and poet, but above all the great preacher and missionary. Another great preacher, Fr. Gabriel Burke, C.C., Michelstown, celebrated the Mass for us this afternoon and reminded us of the faith and trust in the adorable Will of God displayed by a young Jewish girl two thousand years ago and urged us to imitate her faith and trust in God.