Sunday 27 July 2014

Saint Lutt of Tigh Luta, July 27

One of the purposes of this blog is to bring before us the names of long-forgotten saints and today in Saint Lutt of Tigh Luta we encounter one of the many obscure Irish holy women listed on our calendars. Reading Canon O'Hanlon's account below there is only a single sentence  of information directly relevant to the saint and that is the recording of her name and locality in the Martyrology of Donegal. The rest of the paragraph is taken up with a discussion of the history of possible locations where she may have flourished and with a refutation of 'Maria Monk' style contemporary prejudices:

St. Lutt, Virgin, of Tigh Luta, in Fothartha Mora.

From the earliest times in Ireland, holy women sought to escape from the snares of this world, by retiring to institutions where they could live together in a holy and peaceful state of society. Yet, even when the rights of conscience were partially recognised in these Islands, and when nunneries began to increase, some intolerants outside the Church imagined that these convents required regulation and inspection. It was foolishly asserted, that moral if not physical restraint was often used, to retain religious ladies within their beloved walls of enclosure. Such charges and suspicions were alike insulting to the nuns, and even to their outer-world relations and friends. Veneration was given, at the 27th of July, according to the Martyrology of Donegal, to Lutt, a virgin, of Tigh Luta, in Fotharta Mora; Where that district or place was situated does not seem to be known. The people called Fotharta were descendants of Eochadh Finn Fuathart, brother to Conn of the Hundred Battles, and who settled in Leinster Here they acquired lands in the counties of Carlow and of Waterford. The territory of Fothart Osnadhaigh—comprised in the present barony of Forth, in the county of Carlow—was so called from Cill Osnadha, now Kellistown. It was more frequently known as Fotharta Fea, from the plain of Magh Fea, in which that church was situated. The O'Nuallains, Anglice, O'Nolans or Nowlans, were the chief inhabitants of this district. The chief family of the Fotharta, in the county of Wexford, commonly called Fothart an Chairn, now Carnsore Point, took the name of O'Lorcain, or Larkin, but shortly after the Anglo-Norman invasion, the O'Lorcains were dispossessed. There were other territories of the name in Leinster, such as Fothart Airbreach, around the Hill of Cruachan Bri Eile, now Croghan, in the north-east of ihe King's County; and Fothart Oirthir Life, in the present county of Wicklow.

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