Thursday 5 September 2013

Saint Bricin of Tuaim Dreacain, September 5

Canon O'Hanlon has a note of a Saint Bricin whose feast is commemorated on September 5. The scholiasts attempted to offer an explanation of the epithet 'Brecc-buaid' attached to this saint, and their notes will make more sense if you are aware that the word bua means victory in Irish. Canon O'Hanlon had given the translations of the entries from the Martyrology of Oengus in the fotnotes but I have inserted these into the text. It is interesting to note that Saint Oengus records that this saint was 'called forth from Ireland' but there are no further details of his mission, although the overall impression is that Bricin was an athlete for Christ who won many victories.


In the Calendar of St. Aengus, there is a commemoration of Brecc-buaid, who was called forth from Ireland:

"With Breccbuaid, who was called forth from Ireland,
I reckon Eolang,
holy, fair pillar of Achad Bo,
a victory of piety."—

It occurs at this date. A comment is found affixed, which very fairly gives us to understand, that the scholiast had no precise knowledge regarding the saint there recorded.

The Irish is thus rendered into English by Dr. Whitley Stokes :

" Briccine of Tuaim Drecoin, in Brefne of Connaught, I reckon.
Or 'with Breccbuaid,' i.e., various victory, i.e., men and women giving him victory, namely, in undergoing Martyrdom together with him, for thai is a victory to him, since he it is that preached unto them God's word."

It may be observed here—once for all — that the O'Clerys are too apt, in following the authority of this scribe, to suppose that he is always reliable, and frequently they assume, that his conjectures in notes on the Calendar of Aengus may be resolved into statements to be accepted. Accordingly, in the Martyrology of Donegal, we find set down at the 5th of September, a festival in honour of Bricin. A space is left there for an insertion , the compiler of the Calendar having been uncertain whether Bricin should be classed as a bishop or as a priest. It is remarkable, that in the Scottish Kalendar of Drummond, he is noticed as a Confessor, and belonging to Ireland. According to the calendarist, Bricin is said to have been of Tuaim Dreacain, in Breifne of Connaught. But, immediately afterwards, he adds, it is in Breifne Ui Raghallaigh. The place of this saint has been anglicised as Toomregan. In the County of Cavan, there is a parish so called, and a part of which extends within the adjoining County of Fermanagh. Another conjectural emendation for his locality, and reference to the designation Brecc-Buaid— rendered 'various reward,' and applied to him—is given by the scholiast on the Calendar of Oengus.

The note in Irish is thus translated:

"i.e. folk of every age he brought to Christ, or he won a victory from divers champions,
i.e. , Briccin of Disert, Briccin in Ui-Drona, or Briccin of Tuaim-Drecain, in Brefne of Connaught."

So that Briccin seems to have been his real name.

According to the O'Clerys, this saint belonged to the race of Tadhg, son to Cian, son of Oilill Olum. We cannot rely, however, on the accuracy of this statement ; nor can we at all find materials, to disclose any reliable facts in relation to him. Neither in the Martyrology of Tallagh, published by the Rev. Dr. Matthew Kelly, nor in that contained in the Book of Leinster, is there any entry of Brecc-buaid or Bricin, at this date. If we are to accept the statement, that Brecc-buaid was called forth from Ireland; perhaps he was one of the many missionaries who left our country to spread the Gospel in more distant lands. The names of numerous Irish saints are endeared to grateful Catholic memories; but, the record of a still greater number of worthies is now wholly forgotten.

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