Wednesday 11 September 2013

Saint Sillán of Imleach Cassain, September 11

One of the saints commemorated on September 11 on the Irish Calendars, has a strange legend attached to his name in the scholiast notes on the Martyrology of Oengus. I have appended this to Canon O'Hanlon's entry on the life and locality of Saint Sillán, whom the calendars associate with both counties Donegal and Louth:

St. Sillán or Siollan, of Imleach Cassain, in Cuailgne, or of Imleach-caoin, in Tir-Aedha.

This holy man lived at an early period. He is commemorated in the "Feilire" of St. Aengus, at the 11th of September, and with praise. However, the scholiast has added a foolish and incredible legend in reference to him. A festival is also recorded in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 11th of September in honour of Sillán in Imlig Cassain, of Cuailgni. The district of Cuailge — now Cooley— was a mountainous tract in the north of Louth County. Although now in the Leinster province, it once formed a part of Uladh. Imleach Cassain's modern equivalent must be sought for in some townland denomination not far from Carlingford Lough or Dundalk Bay. By Marianus O'Gorman, the festival of Sillán has been set down at the 11th of September. At the same date, in the Martyrology of Donegal, his name also appears, as Siollan, of Imleach Cassain, in Cuailgni; or of Imlach-caoin,in Tir Aedha, and, he is said to have been interred or honoured, at Inis Cameda, in Loch Eirne. Tir Aedha is now commensurate with the barony of Tirhugh, in the southern part of Donegal County, and there Imleach-caoin was situated, state the O'Clerys. The ancient name of Inish Coimeda may not at present be easily discovered, among the many modern designations that are applied to the numerous islands, which dot the surface of the beautiful Lough Erne. Veneration for this saint prevailed in Scotland, and his name is registered in the Kalendarium Drummondiense, at the iii. of the September Ides, corresponding with the 11th of the month.

From the Martyrology of Oengus

B. iii. idus Septembris.

Paiss Prothi Iacinthi,
ba co nimbud galair,
Sillán salm cech lobair
i nImbliuch cain canair.

11. The passion of Protus and Hyacinthus:
it was with abundance of sorrow.
Sillán, the psalm of every sick man,
is sung in fair Imbliuch (Cassain).


Sillán, i.e. from Imbliuch Cassain in Cualnge. salm, i.e. oratio, of every feeble one, i.e. every one who used to be in sore sickness: for this was the wish of them all, to see the hair of Sillán's eyebrow so that they might die swiftly, for this was the peculiarity of that hair, every one who would see it in the morning died at once. Now Sillán happened (to come) to Lethglenn, and Molaisse comes early in the morning round the graveyard. Sillán of the Hair happens to meet him. "This hair," says Molaisse, "shall not be killing every one," plucking it out perforce. Then Molaisse, after seeing the hair, dies at once, and hence Sillán dictus est (Sillán of the Hair).

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