Monday 27 May 2013

Saint Cillin of Tehallan, May 27

May 27 is the commemoration of a saint said to have flourished in an ecclesiastical territory established by Saint Patrick. In his entry for Saint Cillin (Killin, Killen) of Tigh Talain, Canon O'Hanlon is keen to correct Colgan's assertion that this territory was in County Down and places the saint instead in County Monaghan:

ACCORDING to our Irish Calendars, there were many saints, bearing the name of Killen; and, besides, some of these are undistinguished by pedigree, even when the names of their places are given. It is very difficult, therefore, to decide among these Killens, about the family and race of the present saint; although, he is set down, by Colgan, as having been a bishop of Teg-Talain, in Orgeillia, who had been venerated, at the 27th of May. Besides, St. Cillin is mentioned, also, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at this date. However, the name of the territory, in which Tigh Talain lay, has not been given, in this record. Again, Marianus O'Gorman and Maguire have an entry of this saint's festival, at the 27th of May. The Bollandists, likewise, enter the feast of Killinus, Bishop of Tegh-Talain, at the same day.

We learn, that St. Patrick proceeded at one time, from a northern region about Clogher, towards the territory of Hua-Meith-tire. This has been placed by Colgan, in the eastern part of Ultonia; and hence, in his opinion, it had been distinguished from Hua-Meith-mare—a part near the sea—as Airthear, or Oriental, deriving its denomination Hua Meith, or the posterity of Meith, from the descendants of Muredach, surnamed Meith or the Fat.

In the time of St. Patrick and afterwards, that people held possession of the interior land… There, St. Patrick is said to have erected a church, the place having been called Teach Tallain. But, in various mediaeval documents, its orthography has been varied to Thechtalbi, Taghtallan, Techtalan, Tehallowne, Teghallan, Techallon, Tyhallon, Teehallon, Tehallon, and Tihallon. The locality, as well known, is now Tehallan parish but,it is vulgarly called Teholland… Here, St. Patrick converted Eugenius, the son of Brian, and the dynast of that district. He also resuscitated his father Muredach. He was afterwards interred, at a place called Omna renne—interpreted the Oak of Renne—on the confines of Hy-Meth and Mugdorne territory, but belonging to the latter. The foregoing account clearly shows, that the territory of Hy-Meth, in which the church of Tehallan was situated, adjoined the territory of the Mugdorni; yet, by some strange and unaccountable mistake, Colgan makes the territory of the Mugdorni the mountainous barony of Mourne in Down, although he should have known, that between Tehallan and Mourne, in Down, several distinct territories lay, in the time of St. Patrick. However, he places Tehallan in the territory of Orgeillia, and this shows, how much he had been mistaken. For, he should have known, that the route of St. Patrick was southwards, and that he passed from the territory of the Hy-Methii, into the adjoining territory of the Mugdorni. He knew that the church of Tehallan—the situation of which he indicated right well, in Diocoesi Ardmachani—was within the territory of the Hy-Methii. He knew, also, that the territory of Crioch Mughdhorna was not many miles south from Tehallan. Again, this latter is placed in the region of Hy-Meith, which was a large district in this county, north of the territory called Fearnmhagh, and originally comprising the barony of Monaghan, as well as of Cremourne. Colgan should have known, likewise, that the church of Domnach Maigen—now Donoughmoyne—was not many miles southwards from Tehallan. The territory known as Ui-Meith Macha comprised the parishes of Tehallan—the Tech-Thalain of our text—Monaghan, Kilmore, Tullycorbet, Clontibret, and Muckno, near Castleblaney. These churches are all in the county of Monaghan.

This saint is said to have been consecrated by St. Patrick, when visiting the district of Huameith-tire. The name Teagh-Talain, the "house of Talan,” seems to indicate a church, founded by one Talan. We are not bound to believe, however, in the opinion of Dr. Lanigan, that he had been placed there, by St. Patrick. Colgan would not undertake to define, whether this place derived its name from St. Tellan, son to Legan, son to Colgan, dynast of this same part of the country, and who is mentioned in our Menologies, at the 25th of June; or from St. Tolan, or Tola, son to Donchad, named at the 30th of March. However, it is stated, in the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, that he not only endowed Tegh Talain with lands, but that he even bestowed the relics of some saints, and which relics, he had brought from beyond the sea. The Irish Apostle selected, from among his disciples, those, who had been the companions of his missionary labours, and the faithful imitators of his pious example. These pious men he left with St. Killian. The festival of the present St. Killen was kept, at Tehallan, county of Monaghan, on the 27th of May, according to our Irish Calendars. Besides, as we are told, Stickillin, a small parish in the county of Louth, near Ardee, is called from this saint, its name having been originally Tech-Cillin. Thus, the name Cillin, Bishop, of Tegh Talain, in Orighialla, is set down in the Martyrology of Donegal, as having been venerated, at this day. His festival is noteil, at the 27th of May, by Father John Colgan. Under the head of Teach-Talain, Duald Mac Firbis enters Gillian, bishop from Tech-Tallian, in Airghill, for May 27th. At this same date, also, his festival occurs, in that Irish Calendar, kept in the Royal Irish Academy.

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