Tuesday 21 April 2020

Irish Saints' Names - April

Recently while browsing the digitized newspaper collection at the National Library of Australia I came across a series of articles on Irish Saints' names, written to promote the idea that Irish parents should give their children the names of our native holy men and women. This is a not uncommon theme in the popular religious literature of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially that aimed at an Irish expatriate audience. Whilst I am fully supportive of the desire to preserve the names of the Irish saints, I am left wondering how many prospective parents actually followed these suggestions, particularly in the case of the more obscure saints. It is one thing to lecture an Irish-American reader on why no true Irish maiden should be ashamed to bear the name of Saint Brigid, but did the writer of this article really imagine that a poor Irish immigrant was going to name his son Ceannfaelad or Indreactae? Yet in our present age of reenactment, role-playing and Game of Thrones, these ancient names have acquired a certain cachet once again. The newspaper articles on the Irish saints' names are laid out on a monthly basis, so we can start with the selection for April, and an interesting selection it is too:

Irish Saints' Names.
There are many who think that the Irish saints are only a few, and so their choice of names for their children is very small. Week by week, a list will be given. The name will be spelt as in Irish and the English equivalent will be given in brackets. The sex is marked m. for males, and f. for females. Only one name is given for each day, but more could he given. Year of death as below.

1. Aodan (Aidan), m.
2. Bronac (Brona). f., Glenshesk. Antrim.
3. Faolan (Faelan), m.. Iona, 724.
4. Tigearnac (Tigearnach), bp. Clones, 549
5. Beacan (Becan), m., Fircall, King's Co.
6. Cronan Beag (Cronan), m., Clonmacnoise, 692.
7. Ceallac (Kellach), m., Armagh, 1149; feast also on August 5.
8. Ceannfaelad (Kennealy), m.. Bangor, 705.
9. Aedac (Aeda), m.
10. Bearcan (Berchan), m., Eigg, Scotland.
11. Ailioll (Elill), m., Cologne, Germany.
12. Emin (Evin), bp.
13. Mocaemoc (Kaevan), m., feast also on March 13.
14. Tassac (Tassa), bp. Raholp, Co. Down.
15. Ruadan (Ruan), abbot of Lorrah, Tipperary, 584.
16. Miolan (Melan), m.
17. Donnan (Donnan), m., Eigg, 617.
18. Laisre (Laisrin). m., Leighlin, 639.
19. Cillene (Killeen), m.
20. Sedrac (Sedra), m.
21. Bearac (Berach). m., Bangor. 664.
22. Lucan (Luchan), m.
23. Ibar (Ibar), bp., Begeri Island, Wexford.
24. Flann (Flann), m., Iona. 891.
25. Maccaille (Maughold), bp., Isle of Man, 489.
26. Indreactae (Inreachty), m. Bangor, 901.
27. Leccan (Lecan), m., Iona.
28. Caoman (Caevan), m., Iona.
29. Domangan (Domangan), m., Muskerry.
30. Ronan (Ronan), m., Louth.

Southern Cross, Friday, 3 April 1914, page 19.

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Monday 13 April 2020

An Irish Easter Legend.

An Irish Easter Legend.

Being in the north-west of Ireland last summer, on the borders of Sligo and Donegal, I chanced upon a famous Shanachie, or story-teller, an Irish-speaking peasant, who possessed an almost inexhaustible fund of traditional, historical, and legendary lore, and whose manner of relating his stories was so graphic that each scene seemed to pass before his own and his listeners' eyes. Amongst the legends he told was one which is now very rare, being, as far as I am aware, known only to Irish-speaking people, and even to few amongst these, though the sculptured tomb bearing the pictured representation of the story being found in Kilree churchyard, almost in the extreme farthest part of Ireland from Donegal, would seem to show that in olden times the legend was popular throughout Ireland.

The old story represented by “a cock in a pot, crowing," was told me by the Shanachie as follows :

" It was at the time when our Saviour was in the grave, and that the soldiers who were set to watch the tomb were sitting round a fire they had lighted. They had killed a cock and put it in a pot on the fire to boil for their supper; and, as they sat around, they spoke together of the story that was told how He that was in the tomb they were guarding had prophesied that before three days were passed He would rise again from the dead. And one of the men said, in mockery: He will rise as sure as the cock that is in that boiling pot will crow again."

No sooner were the words spoken than the lid of the pot burst open, the cock flew on to the edge, flapped his wings, sprinkling the soldiers with the boiling water, then crowed three times, and what he said each time was:

' Moc an o-o-o-ye, slaun !
Moc an o-o-o-ye, slaun !'

That is,' Son of the Virgin, Hail!' [Mac an Oige, slan] and ever since that hour this is what the cock crows: this is what we hear him say, and if you listen you, too, can hear the very words :

' Moc an o-o-o-ye, slaun !' '

I spell the sound of the Irish phonetically to try and imitate the peculiar softening of the words as an Irish speaker softens them, the prolonging out of the o-o-o sounding almost precisely like the bird's crow heard from a distance. At least so it has always sounded in my ears since I heard this beautiful legend. M. B.

Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Volume 27 (1897), 193-194.

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Sunday 12 April 2020

Our Champion has Arisen

Although Jesus was crucified, 
our Lord, our Champion,
he has arisen as the pure King
of all that he created.

First Prologue to the Féilire Oengusso

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Friday 10 April 2020

A Blessing on Christ who has Suffered Cross and Martyrdom

A blessing on Christ, son of the living God,
who has suffered cross and martyrdom;
who has atoned on the cross, on the rood,
for the transgression of Adam and Eve.

James Carney, ed. and trans., The Poems of Blathmac Son of Cú Brettan - Together with the Irish Gospel of Thomas and a Poem on the Virgin Mary (Dublin, 1964).

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Thursday 9 April 2020

The King made Obeisance to his Apostles on Thursday

The King through his pure mind
made obeisance to his apostles on Thursday,
in bright glory,
before the great Pasch of the resurrection.

Saltair na Rann

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Wednesday 8 April 2020

Spy Wednesday - Woe to Judas Iscariot

108. Woe to Judas Iscariot whose intention is to betray the Lord. Selling Christ! – an evil bargain this for the thirty silver pieces.
109. Evil were the propensities of that man – he had striven after an evil judgment; even a strong enduring board of red gold were a poor price for Christ, son of God.
110. What he got for the act of his evil tongue was unlucky; no good came of the silver that he had contracted for against the fair body of Christ.
111. The throat upon which came the treachery – soon did it suffer the noose; the belly with swellings about him – all its intestines burst forth.
112. It would have been better for him had he diligently made a pious and severe repentance; it would not have been a matter for wonder if, after his betrayal, powerful Christ had forgiven.
113. He both despaired and died; he did not approach the forgiving one. Black hosts of devils brought him to Hell to harsh Satan.

James Carney, ed. and trans., The Poems of Blathmac Son of Cú Brettan, together with the Irish Gospel of Thomas and a Poem on the Virgin Mary (London 1964).

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Saturday 4 April 2020

An Irish Quatrain to be Sung while Washing the Hands

Medieval medicine relied much on prayers and charms which straddle the dividing line between religion and magic. This Irish quatrain, translated by the great German Celticist Kuno Meyer, is addressed to Christ and comes with its own rubrics, instructing the user to recite it in water while washing the hands. Might it thus may be more efficacious in our present trials than singing Happy Birthday?

(Brussels MS. 5100-4)
Macan Máire ingeine
dom snádhsdh ar gach ngalar
ar in tessaigh bhíos hi ccind
ar gach ngábudh i ttalamh
A gabhail ind-uisce occ indmat do lámh ⁊ dobeiri mót' aigidh 
⁊ mót' mhullach ⁊ not-aincenn ar cech n-olc.

Dear son of Mary the maid,
Save me from every trouble
From the heat that is in the head,
From every danger on earth.

[To be sung in water when washing thy hands; put them about thy face and about thy crown, and it will save thee from every evil.]

Kuno Meyer, ed, and trans. Irish Quatrains, in Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie 1 (1897), 456.

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