October 11 is the feast of two County Meath saints associated with the mission of Saint Patrick, Loman and Forthchern of Trim. Patrician hagiography records that Loman was a Briton, and his royal convert Fortchern son of an Irish king and a British mother. The monastery of Trim produced a number of Irish saints, a fact alluded to in the entry for the day in the Martyrology of Tallaght:
Lomman i nAth Truim cum suis omnibus et Fortchern.The Martyrology of Oengus mentions Fortchern first and then adds an interesting epithet to the name of Lomman:
Fortchern, Lommán lainnech, 'Fortchern, Lomman the scaly'.
The theme is continued in the entry of Marianus O'Gorman:
Fortchern,- Lomman lomda, 'Fortchern,- stript Lomman.'
The accompanying notes record of Fortchern:
epscop, deiscipul Patraic, 7 ó Ath truim il-Laeghaire dó, ocus ó Chill Fortceirn i n-Uibh Drónna i Laighnibh, 'a bishop, a disciple of Patrick, and from Áth Truim in Loeguire was he, and from Cell Fortcheirn in Huí Dróna in Leinster'.and a note in the margins describes Loman in similar terms:
in marg. Loman espoc, descipul oile do Phátraic, 7 ó Áth Truim dó beós.The Martyrology of Donegal records the Patrician associations of both saints and the royal background of Forthchern:
FOIRTCHERN, son of Feidhlimidh, son of Laoghaire, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages. He was a bishop, and a disciple of Patrick, and he was of Ath-Truim in Laoghaire, and of Cill Foirtcheirn in Ui-Dróna, in Leinster.
LOMMAN, Bishop, another disciple of Patrick, and he was of Ath-Truim also; and Darerca, sister of Patrick, was his mother.
So, what does the hagiography of Saint Patrick record of our saints? Below is an account taken from the diocesan historian of County Meath, Father Anthony Cogan, which includes an extract from the writings of Tírechan:
ON the banks of the historic Boyne, in the heart of a rich and beautiful country, encompassed with ruins of churches, monasteries, and castles, whose gray mouldering walls speak of ages long past, and celebrities long forgotten, stands the capital of the once powerful palatinate of Meath the ancient and celebrated city of Ath-Truim, "the pass or ford of the elder trees". Many and varied were the scenes which this old town has witnessed from the days of St. Loman, its first bishop, to the last election of a representative to sit in a foreign parliament. In the early ages Trim was the seat of an episcopal see said to have been the most ancient in Ireland, and had a monastic school of the first class, which dispensed its blessings to the neighbourhood ...Rev. Anthony Cogan, The Diocese of Meath: Ancient and Modern, Volume 1 (Dublin, 1862), 44-48.
The ecclesiastical origin of Trim is thus accounted for by Tirechan, a writer of the seventh century:
"A.D. 433. When Patrick, in his holy navigation, came to Ireland, he left St. Loman at the mouth of the Boyne to take care of his boat forty days and forty nights; and then he (St. Loman) waited another forty, out of obedience to Patrick. Then, according to the order of his master (the Lord being his pilot), he came in his boat, against the stream, as far as the ford of Trim, near the fort of Feidilmid, son of Loiguire. And when it was morning, Foirtchern, son of Feidilmid, found him reciting the Gospel, and admiring the Gospel and his doctrine, immediately believed; and a well being opened in that place, he was baptized by Loman in Christ, and remained with him until his mother came to look for him; and she was made glad at his sight, because she was a British woman. But she likewise believed, and again returned to her house, and told to her husband all that had happened to her and her son. And then Feidilmid was glad at the coming of the priest, because he had his mother from the Britons, the daughter of the king of the Britons, namely, Scothnoessa. And Feidilmid saluted Loman in the British tongue, asking him, in order, of his faith and kindred, and he answered: 'I am Loman, a Briton, a Christian, a disciple of Bishop Patrick, who is sent from the Lord to baptize the people of the Irish, and to convert them to the faith of Christ, who sent me here according to the will of God'. And immediately Feidilmid believed, with all his family, and dedicated (immolavit) to him and St. Patrick his country, with his possessions and with all his family; all these he dedicated to Patrick and Loman, with his son Fortchern, till the Day of Judgment. But Feidilmid crossed the Boyne, and Loman remained with Fortchern in Trim, until Patrick came to them, and built a church with them, twenty-two years before the foundation of the Church of Armagh".
In the Annals of the Four Masters, at 432, we read:
"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".
Father Cogan also summarizes the names of the saints of Trim recorded in the Irish calendars, noting that Fortchern has a second feastday at February 18, one day after a collective feast for the saints of Trim:
In the Martyrology of Tallaght, the festivals of the following saints of Trim are marked at the 17th of February: St. Aedha; St. Coelochtra; St. Cormac, Bishop; St Cuimaen, Bishop; St. Finnsegh, viz.: St. Lactan, Bishop; St. Lurech Mac Cuanach, 'hostiarius Patricii'; St. Ossan; and St. Saran.
The festival of St. Fortchern is marked at the 18th of February; and that of St. Loman "cum SS. omnibus", at the 11th of October.
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