An ecclesiastical history of Ireland, from the first introduction of Christianity among the Irish, to the beginning of the thirteenth century , Compiled from the works of the most esteemed authors ... who have written and published on matters connected with the Irish church; and from Irish annals an online

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English translator has) at Vienna. Then he speaks of certain
letters and constitutions. That Celsus wrote some letters and re-
gulations relative to ecclesiastical matters, and that he drew up a
sort of a will, need not be denied ; but these are not sufficient for
reckoning him among the Irish Avriters.

§. XII. As soon as it was known at Armagh that
Celsus was dead, Murchertach, or (according to his
latinized name) Mauritius or Maurice, a son of
Domnald the predecessor of Celsus, took possession
of the see, which he retained, one way or another,
for five years until his death. (72) Thus St. Ma-
lachy, who was far from being anxious to be re-
moved to Armagh, was prevented from occupying
it, notwithstanding the declaration of Celsus and the
wish of the pious persons of those times. It was
during Maurice's incumbency or usurpation that he
went, as we have seen, to Munster, where, with
the assistance of Cormac Mac-Carthy, he constructed
a monastery in a place in that prince's kingdom,
called Ibrach. (73) There he and the brethren
were provided with every thing necessary, and the
king often visited them, considering himself as a dis-
ciple of St. Malachy. In the attendance to the du-
ties of the house the saint, although the superior and
a bishop, performed in his turn every part of them
as much at least as any of the brethren, setting them
an example of monastic poverty and discipline.

He was probably still there, when Maurice O'Hin-
drectaigh, who is called comorban of St. Comgall,
died at Armagh on the 3d of October, A. Z>. 1131.
(74) Perhaps he was only a person, who had held


the lands, which had belonged to the monastery of
Bangor, under the title of comoy^ban or corbe, (J5)
In the same year died Moeliosa O'Foghlada, arch-
bishop of Casliel, (76) and was succeeded by Dom-
nald (not Donagh or Donat) 0*Conaing, who held
the see until lid?. To the year 1132 is assigned
the death of a very eminent priest of Armagh, the
blessed Maelbrigid Mac-Dolgen, who departed this
life on the S7th of August in the eightieth year of
his age, and the 52d ot his priesthood, (77)

(72) Tr. TIu p. 301 and 303. St. Bernard ib. cap. 7. Ware
and Harris, Bishops of Armagh at Maurice,

(73) Ware, who was greatly in error with regard to Ibrach in
his Coenoiba Cistercieiicia (at NeiurijJ afterwards tliought, ( Ani.
cap. 26. at Cork) that it was the same as the abbey near Cork
called of St. Barr or Finbar. But the account, which he gives
of this abbey, shows that he was mistaken. He says, that it was
founded for Regular canons of the order of St. Augustin by king
Cormac, that is, the Cormac friend of St. Malachy. Now the
community, which St. Malachy governed at Ibrach, consisted
not of Regular canons, but of monks of the old order of Bangor,
or of St. Comgall, as is clear from St. Bernard. Next he says,
that it was founded about the year 1134'; but in this year St.
Malachy was at Armagh, having already returned from Munster.
It is therefore clear, that the abbey of St. Barr, otherwise called
Gill-abbey, was quite different from the house of Ibrach. Ale-
niand (Hist. Mon. S^c. p. ,54.) imagined, that Ibrach was the
same as Beg-erin near Wexford, as if Ibrach were derived from
the name of St. Ibar. This conjecture betrays his ignorance of
Irish history. For Ibrach was, as St. Bernard states, in Cormac
Mac-Carthy's kingdom, whereas Beg-erin certainly was not. It
is strange that Butler {Life of St. Malachy) and some others have
referred to this so clearly wrong opinion of Alemand. I have
not the least doubt, but that Ibrach or Ibrac, as spelled by St.
Bernard, was no other than the district still called Iveragh {h and
V commutable in Irish) now a barony in the county of Kerry,
The establishment formed there by St. Malachy seems to have
ceased soon after his departure from Munster, as it is very pro-


bable that the brethren followed him back to Ulster, and we know
that the monastery of Bangor, whence they had come, continued
to exist after these times.

(74) Tr. Th, p. 303.

(75) See above J. 9. It is hard so think, that he could have
been the superior of the monks of Bangor, whereas St. Malachy
seems to have retained that office to himself; unless it might be
said that he acted as a substitute for the saint, while attending to
his diocese of Connor. It may be suspected, that Maurice 0'Hin«
drectaigh was the uncle of St. Malachy, who, as we have seen had
possessed those lands, and who, being too old to follow the saint
to Munster, had retired to Armagh. He is spoken of as a holy
man ; but I do not find him called uncle to St. Malachy.

(76) Annals of Innisfallen at .4. 1131. 4 Masters, ap, Tr. Th.
p. 308. and Ware, Archbishops of Cashel. Compare with Chap.
XXV. §. 14.

(77) Tr. Th. p. 303.

§. XIII. Maurice had held the see of Armagh for
three years, and consequently until 11^2, when
those, who were anxious to put an end to the usur-
pation, particularly Malchus of Lismore and Gille-
bert of Limerick, the apostolic legate, havino- as-
sembled some bishops and chieftains, went in a body
to where St. Malachy was, determined to use force
if he should resist their plan for placing him on the
see. After much expostulation on his part and their
threatening him with excommunication, at leno-th
he submitted on condition of, in case of the peace of
the Church being established and matters properly
arranged, being allowed to return to his former
spouse (Connor) and to his beloved state of poverty,
from which, he said, they were dragging him. It
seems, that he was then in his monastery of Jbrach,
where he was in the habit of practising his system of
poverty, and which, being in Munster, Jay convenient
for his being called upon by Malchus and Gillebert.
His submitting to the demand made of him was
chiefly owing to his recollection of the vision, in


which the pastoral staff of Celsus appeared as if
handed to him, and he was afi-aid lest his further
opposition might involve a resistance to the will of
God. Accordingly he went to the diocese of Ar-
magh, of which he undertook the care, as well as of
its dependencies, but avoided entering the city,
being apprehensive that bloodshed might be the con-
sequence of his doing so. After two years Maurice
died on the 17th of September in 1134, (78) having
endeavoured, as much as he could, that his successor
should be Niell a member of the same usurping
family. This Niell, whose name has been latinized
into Nigellus, was according to a very probable
account, a brother of Celsus ; for he is said to have
been a son of Aidus and a grandson of a former
archbishop Moeliosa. (79) At any rate, he belonged
to that race, and their faction were preparing to install
him, but were opposed by a king and several bishops
and many pious persons, who assembled for the pur-
pose of introducing St. Malachy into Armagh. A
hostile party, headed by a very wicked man, placed
themselves on a hill adjoining the place of assembly
with the intention of rushing down and killing the
king and St. Malachy. On his discovering their
plan the saint entered a neighbouring church and
prayed to God. All of a sudden clouds and dark-
ness with great rain changed the day into night, and
a dreadful storm came on accompanied with great
thunder and lightning, which killed the leader of that
party and some others of tliem, besides severely in-
juring others and dispersing the whole gang, while
the storm and whirlind left St. Malachy's friends
untouched, although not far distant. (80)

(78) lb. p. SO^. from the 4 Masters. This date agrees exactly
with St. Bernard's account of Maurice having occupied the see for
five years, reckoning from the death of Celsus in 1129.

(79) Colgan says, (ib.) that Niell was son of the Aidus, who
died in 1108, and who was a son of Dubdalethe III. Elsewhere,


{ib,) owing to an omission of the press, Niell is called son of Dub-
dalethe. But (ib. p, 305.) Colgan makes him the son of the
Aldus son of Moeliosa ; and O'Flaherty maintains {MS. note) that
this is the true reading of the 4 Masters. If so, and if they were
otherwise right, it will follow, that Niell was a brother of Celsus.
(See Chap, xxv. §. 12.) But St. Bernard either did not know
this, or did not choose to mention it.

(80) St. Bernard, cap. 7. According to the Annals of Innis-
fallen at A. 11 S^ the conspirators were from Tulach-og, now
Tullyhog in the barony of Dungannon, county of Tirone, and the
transaction is thus stated; " The Kineal Eogan (Tironians) of
Tulach-Og conspired against Maolmaodhog (Malachy) bishop of
Armagh, and twelve of them were struck dead by lightning on
the very spot, where they were forming the conspiracy against the
hol}^ man."

§. XIV. St. Malachy was then conducted to Ar-
magh as its bishop and primate of all Ireland, towards
the latter end of that same year 1134, (81) being
then 38 years old. (82) Niell, finding it necessary
to make his escape, took with him two great orna-
ments of the cathedral, viz. the text of the Gospels,
which had belonged to St. Patrick, and the celebrated
staff, called the staff of Jesus, (83) Carrying
about these objects of the people's highest respect,
he was received every where with great attention, and
favoured by numbers of persons in preference to St.
Malachy. A powerful chieftain of tlie usurping
family, whom the king, St. Malachy*s friend, had,
before he left Armagh, forced to swear, that he would
keep peace with the bishop, and even to give him
many hostages to that effect, still harboured evil
designs against him, and, on the king's having re-
tired, went to Armagh, where with son)e relatives
and friends he formed a plot for putting the saint to
death. They were, however, afraid of the people,
and did not dare to attack him in public. But on
an evening, when with all the clergy and a multitude
of the faithful he was celebrating Vespers in the


church, that ill-disposed chieftain sent some persons
to request, that he would call upon him for the
purpose of their coming to amicable terms. To this
the assistants replied, that it was rather his business
to wait upon the bishop, and that the church was the
fittest place for settling such matters. The mes-
sengers answered, that the chieftain was afraid of
the crowd, by whom he was hated on account of
their attachment to the bishop, and nearly killed a
few days before. While they were thus contending,
St. Malachy interfered, and said ; ** Brethren, allow
me to imitate my master. In vain am I a christian,
if I do not follow Christ. Perhaps I shall soften
the tyrant by this act of humility ; and, if not, I
shall come ofFvictorious by, although the ecclesiastical
pastor, paying to a layman an attention, which he
owed to me. You will be edified by my example.
And what if I should happen to be killed ? I do
not refuse to die, so as that you may receive an
example of life from me. A bishop, as has been
said by the chief of bishops, ought not to domineer
over God's inheritance, but be a model to the flock,
and such a one as was exhibited by him, who humbled
himself, becoming obedient unto death." After
some other words to this purpose he set out amidst
the tears and supplications of all the bystanders,
who requested that his wish to die for Christ should
not induce him to leave the flock of Christ desolate.
He was accompanied by only three of his disciples,
who were ready to die along with him. On entering
the house he found himself surrounded by armed
men, who, on his appearing, seemed stupified, and
did not lift a hand against him. The chief of the
party, instead of attacking him, rose up to receive
him in an honourable manner, and the very persons,
who had meditated his death, offered him peace,
which was soon concluded on a firm and solid footing,
so that his former enemies became attached to him.
As to Niell, he was soon after obliged to desist from


his pretensions and to give up the reliques or orna-
ments, which he had carried off. St. Malachy had
it now in his power to exercise his ministry with per-
fect freedom, and was indefatigable in his exertions.
Yet he had still some enemies ; but his friends took
care to guard him both day and night against their
snares. A prating fellow, who used to insult the
saint and constantly speak ill of him, was punished
by his tongue having swelled and rotted, from which
he continued to throw out worms for seven days until
at length he died. On an occasion of St. Malachy's
preaching to the people a woman of the usurping
family interrupting him made use of the most op-
probrious and blasphemous expressions against him,
calling him a hypocrite, an invader of other people's
inheritance, &c. He made no answer ; but she was
struck with madness, and, crying out that she was
suffocated by Malachy, expired not long after in a
horrid manner.

(81) Annals of Innisfallen, id. and 4? Masters, ap. Tr. Th, p,

(82) The anno aetatk suae tricesimo octavo of St. Bernard must
be understood of 38 years complete, whereas St. Malachy was
born, as we have seen, in 1095 and apparently towards the lat-
ter end of the year, so that he was not as yet 39 years old
v/hen he entered Armagh after the death of Maurice in September,
A. D. 1134.

(83) Concerning this staff, see Chap. iv. ^.12.

§.xv. In the, same year, 1 134, Imar O'Haedhagain,
who had been St. Malachy's master, died at Rome,
whither he had gone on a pilgrimage. (84) In said
year a synod was held in Cashel by the archbishop,
Domnald O'Conaing, and the bishops of Munster,
who consecrated the church, which had been built or
re.built there by Cormac Mac-Carthy. (85) This
church must not be confounded vvith the great
cathedral of Cashel, which, as generally known, was



not erected until many years later by Donald O' Brian
about the time of the arrival of the English in Ire-
land, (S6) I find it stated, that in the same year
.the cathedral of Tuam was stormed and forcibly en-
tered by the Dalcassians, and that Derry, the churches
of Rath-luirg (Rathlure) Raphoe, and Clonard, part
of Cong and Eithne, Roscommon, Rossmor, and
several other principal churches were burned and
plundered by the Momonians headed by their king
Conor O' Brian. These devastations must have been
a part of those committed by the great army, com-
posed of Irish and Danes, which he and other
princes led in that year against Leth-cuinn or the
northern half of Ireland. (8?) In the following
year Cumea-mor Macconmara (Macnamara) king of
Ibh-Caisin, the chief plunderer of the cathedral of
Tuam, was killed by the Desmonians under Cormac
Mac-Carthy, who ravaged Thomond. (88) Other
instances of this disgraceful mode of warfare and
want of respect for churches occur in those times.
Thus Kildare was plundered by Dermod O' Brian
and others in 1136 ; and in the same year Clonard
was pillaged and destroyed by the people of Breffny
and Fermanagh. Even Cormac Mac Carthy is said
to have burned a place called Maighe Deiscirt, both
bouses and churches. (89) After this period I find
no further mention of Malchus bishop of Lismore,
and, as he was very old when St. Malachy first
placed himself under his direction about the year
1 123, (90) it may be fairly conjectured that he
died not long after St. Malachy got full possession of
Armagh. This appears more probable than that
he lived until 1150, as some have supposed who
made him the same as a bishop of Lismore named
Moelmonech O'Lonsech. In 1135 died the blessed
Fiachrius a very holy elder of Clonard. (91)
"Whether the title of elder given to him indicate that
he was a bishop, as some have thought, I will not
pretend to decide. To the same year is affixed the


death of Moellosa O'Hamire, who appears as the
second bishop of Waterford. Doinnald O'Dubhai
or Dubtliaigh, a very wise man, who was bishop of
Clonmacnois and of Elphin, called comorban of St.
Kieran and archbishop of Connaught, died in 1136
at Clonfert, where he was buried on St. Patrick's
day. From his having been honoured with the title
of archbishop of Connaught some writers have con-
cluded, that he was also bishop of Tuam. But, had
he been such, \\A\y not styled cowortoz of St. larlath^
as the bishops of Tuam usually were ? It is more
probable, that said title was given to him merely in
an honorary manner, on account of his particular
merit and the esteem he was held in (92). Nor was
there as yet any Connaught bishop regtdarly enti-
tled to the name of archbishop,

(84) 4 Masters ap. Tr. Th. p. 303. Imar's name is in the
Carthusian martyrology at 12 November ; but, according to Marian
Gorman and the martyrology of Donegal, he died on the 13th of*

(85) See above f . 7. and Not. 58. The Annals of Innisfallen
have at ^4. 1134 ; " The church built by Cormac Mac-Carthy in
Cashel was consecrated this year by the archbishop and bishops
of Munster, at which ceremony the nobility of Ireland, both
clergy and laity, were present." Ware {Antiq, cap, 29 at Cashel)
states, from the Annals of the Priory of the island of All saints,
ihat afler the rebuilding of this church it was solemnly consecrated,
and a synod held there in the year 1134. See also Harris, Arch-
bishops of Cashel, p. 464.

(86) Dr. Milner fell (Tour in Ireland, Letter 14.) into a
«trange mistake on this point. Having made mention of Cormac's
chapel, which, he says, was consecrated in the year 900, he adds ;
** A much more spacious and elegant cathedral was added to this
above two centuries later, being consecrated, and a synod held In
it, A. D. 1134; at which time the former church began to be
used as a chapter-house. Thus he confounded the church, that
was consecrated in 1134, with the spacious cathedral, which was
not erected until about forty years later. It is very odd that he

' H ^


did, whereas both Ware and Harris expressly and clearly distin-
guish them, (locc, citt, ) representing the church consecrated in
1134-, and which they supposed to be the same as Cormac's
chapel rebuilt, as quite different from the great cathedral after-
wards newly erected by Donald O'Brian.

(87) See the Annals of Innisfallen at A. 1134. Eithne and
Ilossmor, by which name various places might have been called,
were probably in Connaught. There is a river, fomierly named
Ethne, which runs between the counties of Longford and West-

(88) lb. at A. 1135. Ibh-Caisin was in Thomond.

(89) lb. at A. 1136.

(90) See above ^.7. (91) AA. SS, p.4.07.

(92) See concerning him ib. p. 217. and Ware and Harris at
Clonmacnoisj Tuam, and Elphin.


St. Malachy makes a visitatmi ofMunster — Pesti-
lence in Ireland — Death ofMoeliosa Moelcolumb
— St, Malachy retires to the bishopric of DoW7i^
mid appoints Gelasius his successor in Aniiagh —
Death of Domnald O'Conaing, archbishop of
Cashel — and ofGiolla Criost bishop ofClogher —
Cormac Mc Carthy murdered — Death of Mac-
hrigid O'BroIchan, suffragan bishojJ of Armagh —
St. Malachy goes to Home to procure the pallium
for the sees of Armagh and Cashel'^^appointed le-
gate by the Pope — Patrick bishop ofLimej^ck con-
secrated by the bishop of Canter bury '^Gelasius
archbishop of Armagh, makes a visitation through-
out Connaught — Synods held in tarious places by
St Malachy — Some of the iiionks of Clarivaux
sent by St. Bernard to form a monastery in Ire-
land — Cistercian Jiouse of Mellifont founded —
Disputes betu'cen O' Conor ofConnaught andO'Me-
laghlin of Meaih — Great Synod under Muredach
O' Dubhthaic bishop of Tuam — Another synod —


Several miracles xvr ought by St. Malachy — He
calls a council at Lismore on account of a yuan
denying the Real Prese^ice in the Holy Eucharist
— Different monasteries ajid oratories erected by
St, Malachy — He rebuilds or repairs the church
of Down — Synod of Holmpatrick — St Malachy
sets out for France to procure the palliumsfrom
Pope Eugene III. — Arrives at Clarivaujc, takes
sick and dies there — Diferent cistercian abbeys
founded in Ireland — Cardinal Paparo arrives in
Ireland — Synod of Kelts convoked — names of the
bishops who attended that synod. — Palliums be-
stoxved on the sees of Armagh^ Cashely Dublin
and Tuam — Archbishop of Armagh declared pri'
mate-^Suffragan sees appointed for the four 7ne-


Some time after St. Malachy was firmly seated
on the see of Armagh, he made a visitation of
Minister. (1) A pestilence having broken out, the
clergy and people of Armagh went in procession,
with the usual commemoration and reiiques of
saints ; but on his joining them in prayer it im-
mediately ceased, {^i) In 113G died a distin-
guished man, Moeliosa Moelcoiumb, a very exact
calculator of times for the use of the church of
Armagh, its librarian, and an eminent antiquary.
(3) St. Malachy, having in the course of three
years settled ecclesiastical matters in the diocese,
restored liberty to its church, reformed abuses,
&c. now resolved on resigning the see, according
to his previous determination and agreement, and
on returning to the scene of his former labours.
Yet he did not take to himself the sec of Connor,
where he had already placed a bishop, i)ut fixed
upon Down, which was united to Connor before
and when he was bishop there. But, as they


had been distinct sees, he now thought it ad-
viseable to separate them again, and leaving that
of Connor, strictly so called, to the bishop in
possession, undertook himself the care of Down,
which was considered inferior to the other. (4)
This could not have been earlier than some time
in the year 1 1 37, whereas St. Malachy continued
to govern Armagh for about three years after his
full accession in 1134. Before he retired to Down,
he appointed as his successor in Armagh, Gela-
sius with the consent of the clergy and people.
(5) This distinguished prelate was a native of
the North of Ireland, and son of Roderic, a
man distinguished for his learning, and an ex-
cellent poet. His birth is assigned to /I. Z).
1088, and he is usually called in Irish Gilia
MaC'Lieg, (6) In his youth he embraced the
monastic state in the abbey of Deny, (7) of which
he became abbot, and consequently comorban or
successor of Columbkill, in about 1121, which si-
tuation he held for sixteen years. (8) I find him
called also archdeacon of Deny, (9) whence it
seems that Derry was then considered an episcopal
see." While he was abbot of this monastery, it
was attacked in 1 1 24 by a prince Ardgar at Ailech
near Derry, who, on the towns-people interfering,
was killed by one of them. (10) In the same
year 1137, in which Gelasius was placed at Ar-
magh, died Domnald O'Conaing, archbishop of
Cashel, who is most highly praised for his wis-
dom, devotion, spirit of prayer, and liberality to
the poor and for pious purposes. (11) He was
succeeded by Domnald O'Lonargan, who held the
see until 1158. (12)

(1) The <t Masters (ap. Tr, Th. p. 304.) have two visitation*
of Munster by St. Malachy, one in 1134 (Avrongly printed
1124) the very year of his getting full possession, and another
in 1136. I strongly suspect, that tliey were mistaken as to any


«uch visitation in 1134. St. Malachy had enough to do in that
year, particulai'ly considering his not being well seated until the
late part of it, at Armagh, not to have time to go so soon to
Munster, and I am inclined to think, that there was only one
visitation, viz. that of 1136.

(2) St. Bernard, cap. 8. (3) Tr, Th. p. 304-.

(4) St. Bernard, cap. 9. Ledwich {Antiq. p. 438.) tells k
monstrous lie, saying that St. Malachy, after his three years in-
cumbency was driven from Armagh by the oldfamilij.

(5) Colgan has (A A. S.S. at 27th March) a Life of this
emintnt prelate, which he collected from various sources. He
vainly strives to show hy means of some round-about calculations,
that Gelasius was raised to the see of Armagh in 1136. It would
be a waste of time to inquire into his modes of reckoning, and
it is sufficient to observe that, as it is certain that St. Malachy
did not get full possession of this see until the latter part of 1 1 34,
(see Chap. xxvi. §. 14.) as Colgan himself admits, ( 7>. Th. p.
804.) Gelasius could not be a bishop of it before some time in

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