Wednesday 27 March 2013

Saint Suairlech of Fore, March 27

March 27 is the commemoration of Saint Suairlech, an eighth-century successor to Saint Fechin at the monastery of Fore. Canon O'Hanlon tells us what is known of him from the Irish Annals and calendars:

St. Suairlech, Bishop of Fore, County of Westmeath

A few brief notices of this sainted bishop are set down, by Colgan, at the 27th of March; while the Bollandists' more briefly record him, as Suarlechus, Episc. Fobariensis. Our Irish accounts style him, Suarlech, or otherwise, Suarlius, or Suairleth. He became a monk, in the Abbey of Fore, county of Westmeath. By some, he is said to have been a disciple of St. Fechin, the founder, who died, A.D. 664. This statement, however, seems hardly reconcilable with chronological dates. After living many years, in humble subjection and in practising a penitential life, he succeeded Dubdaboren, in the government of that monastery. The death of this abbot is thus entered, at the year 735: "Dubhdabhoireann, Abbot of Fobhar [Fore], died." — Dr. O'Donovan's" Annals of the Four Masters," vol.i., pp. 336, 337. To the office of Abbot Suairlech was advanced, about the year 735. Afterwards, he was assumed to the exercise of episcopal functions; he being, as is supposed, the first Bishop of Fore; for, we do not read, that any of his predecessors, in the monastery, had previously enjoyed such a title. During the reign of Domnald Murchadh, King of Ireland, our saint was called to the enjoyment of eternal felicity, on the 27th of March. He died, on that day, in the year 745; and, during this very same year, Fore was burned.  The Annals of Ulster place his death, at A.D. 749, but the entry in the Annals of the Four Masters reads: " The age of Christ, 745. The seventh year of Domhnall. St. Suairleach, Bishop of Fobhar [Fore], died on the 21st of March." —Dr. O'Donovan's "Annals of the Four Masters," vol. i., pp. 348, 349. He must have attained a very advanced age, were we to credit the statement, of his having been in early life, a disciple, under St. Fechin. His name is found, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 27th of March, as Suairleach, Bishop. Marianus O'Gorman and Cathal Maguire, likewise, record him, as Bishop of Fore, at this day. Under the head of Fobhar, Duald Mac Firbis enters, Suairlech, bishop of Fobhar, rested, A.D. 745, March 27th. The Martyrology of Donegal has entered, likewise, on this day, Suairlech, Bishop of Fobhar.

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