Sunday 5 October 2014

Saint Baethallach of Ath-Truim, October 5

October 5 is the commemoration of an eighth-century County Meath bishop, Baethallach (Baithalach, Baitellach) of Ath-Truim. The name Baethellaig is found on the Martyrology of Tallaght, but the Martyrology of Oengus devotes its entire entry to a female saint whose feast also occurs today, Sínech of Crohane. The 12th-century Martyrology of Gorman in its verse mentions 'Baithalach to whom I pray'. The 17th-century Martyrology of Donegal, however, has a much fuller entry and places Baethallach at Ath-Truim, modern Trim:

BAETHALLACH, brother of Corbmac, bishop of Ath-Truim, and successor of Patrick. Fuinnecht, daughter of Maelfithrigh, son of Dioma, son of Colman, was his mother; and he and Baeghlach, the pilgrim, are of the race of Colla Uais, monarch of Erin.
The foundation of Trim is ascribed to Saint Patrick in the Irish annals, with this entry in the Annals of the Four Masters at the year 432: "Ath-Truim was founded by Patrick, it having been granted by Fedhlim, son of Laoghaire, son of Niall, to God and to him, Loman and Fortchern". Loman and Fortchern are perhaps the most famous of the saints associated with Trim, but there is also a record of an eighth-century bishop called Cormac, who came from a family which contributed a great deal to the Irish church, as Father John Lanigan explains:

To A.D. 742 is assigned the death of St. Cormac bishop of Trim. He is said to have been of the royal house of the Nialls; and his name appears in various calendars at the 17th of February as the anniversary of his death. Three brothers of his are spoken of; Rumond, a very wise man and deeply skilled in history and antiquities, who died in 743; Baitellach, abbot of Trim, whose death is marked at A.D. 752; and Ossan a priest, the year of whose death is not known.

Rev. John Lanigan, An Ecclesiastical History of Ireland, Volume III, 2nd edn., Dublin, 1829, 176-177.

Thus if the Martyrology of Donegal is correct in identifying our saint of October 5 with the Abbot Baitellach of Trim it would allow us to place him in the eighth-century as a member of an aristocratic ecclesiastical family, who contributed to the service of the Irish church in this historic locality.

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