Sunday 29 March 2015

Saint Fulartach of Clonard, March 29

On March 29 we commemorate Fulartach, an eighth century saint of Clonard, County Meath. As Canon O'Hanlon explains, there are two saints of this name, one with a feast on March 29 and the other on December 21. This leaves the possibility that we are dealing with one saint with two feast days or with two distinct individuals, each with his own feast day. O'Hanlon himself plumps for the latter view but lays out all the evidence from the calendars, the annals and the earlier scholars on the matter:


Some account of this holy bishop is to be found, in Colgan, with a very succinct notice, in the Bollandists. From the former, we learn, that St. Fulartach, or Fulartus, as he is sometimes called, was son to Brec, or Brecus, and he was descended from an illustrious family, in Ulster, as may be collected from the names of his progenitors. Thus, Brec was son to Scandal, son of Boedan, son to Eochod, son of Cella, son to Coelbad, son of Crunn Badhra, according to the Genealogies of the Irish Saints. It is probable, he was born in the province of Ulster; but, in what year has not transpired. He built an oratory, in Hy-Falgia territory, and, at a place, which derives its name from the founder, having been called Disert Fulartach. Here, it is said, he lived an eremitical life, for a time. Nearly all our ancient records state, that from this place, he was translated to the See of Clonard. This he governed, with distinguished merit and virtue. However, the Rev. Dr. Lanigan appears to think, that St. Fulartach, of Disert Fulartach, may have been a different person from the bishop, as some writers have made a distinction between them. Accordingly, the Annals of the Four Masters specify, that Fulartach, son to Breac, an anchorite, died in the year 755 while, Fulartach, Bishop of Clonard, departed a.d. 774. However, it is remarked, by Colgan, that the Annals of the Four Masters do not state expressly, the former died in 755, as they do, regarding other persons named with him; hence, they may have only intended to indicate, that he flourished in such year, and that, subsequently, he became Bishop of Clonard, after obtaining which dignity, he died in 744, a date assigned by our Annalists for the death of the prelate of this See.

There are two festivals, in honour of St. Fulartach: one of these was celebrated, on the 29th day of March. Furlartach mac Bricc is the only entry concerning him, as found in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at this date. Cathal Maguire and Marianus O'Gorman have a like entry; the latter with the remark, that he was Bishop of Clonard," while the commentator adds a more eulogistic notice. This day, we find, set down in the Martyrology of Donegal, the name of Fulartach, son of Brec, Bishop of Cluain-Eraird, and of Disert Fulartaich, in Ui Failghe. The Calendarist adds, there is found a Fulartach, son of Brec, and descended from the race of Irial, son of Conall Cearnach, according to the Naoirahsenchus. In the table appended to the Donegal Martyrology, a commentator adds, in a marginal note, this saint had another festival, at the 21st of December. To that date, the reader is likewise referred. However, there were two distinct saints, bearing the same name; both of whom are treated of, by Colgan, on this particular day. This writer is of opinion, that the memory of each saint belongs to a different day; but, he is unable to assign for either individual the date of his own peculiar festival.

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