PARISH OF KILDARE.
ANCIENT KILDARE is believed to have stood a little to the west of the present town. From a passage in the Book of Leinster, quoted by O’Curry, (Lectures, p. 487,) it appears that the place was previously named Drumcree, (Druimcriadh, ie. “the Ridge of Clay.”) It received its present appellation “from a goodly, high oak,” under the shadow of which St. Brigid constructed her cell. “When the most glorious virgin, Brigid, returned to her own country,” writes her Biographer, Cogitosus, Bishop of Kildare, in the 10th century, “she was received with great honour and with the great joy of the whole Province, and there a cell was assigned unto her in which this Saint of God led a wonderful life. There she erected a monastery of many virgins, and there, in honour of St. Brigid, a very great city afterwards sprung up which is at this day the Metropolis of the Lagenians. That cell is called in the Scotic, Cill-dara, which sounds in Latin, Cella Quercus, i.e. the cell of the oak. For there was a very high oak tree there which St. Brigid loved much and blessed; of which the trunk still (circa A.D. 980,) remains. No one dares to cut it with a weapon; but he who can break off any part of it with his hands, deems it a great advantage, hoping for the aid of God by means of it; because through the benediction of St. Brigid, many miracles have been performed by that wood. The same name which this cell bore, the city also is named.” (Vita IV. St. Brigidoe, lib. II. c. 3, Tr. Thaum.) St. Brigid established herself at Kildare some time about the year 470, to which period, therefore, the town can trace its foundation.
St. Brigid was born at Faughart, now a village in the Diocese of Armagh, and County of Louth, probably in the year 453. Her father, Dubhtach, and her mother, Brocessa or Brotseach, were both distinguished for their noble descent and their Christian virtues, “Sancta itaque Brigida, quam Deus praescivit ad suam imaginem et praedestinavit, a Christianis, nobilibusque parentibus genita.” (Cogitosus.) The same is repeated in the Prologue to the Vita VI., or metrical Life of the Saint, by Cilien of Iniskeltra. (Tr. Thaum.)
“Dubhtacus ejus erat genitor cognomine dictus,
Clarus homo meritis, clarus et a proavis;
Nobilis atque humilis, mitis, pietate repletus;
Nobilior propria conjuge, prole pia.”
Dubhtach was descended of Eochad, brother of the celebrated Con of the Hundred Battles; and Brotseach was of the noble race of Dal Conchobhair or O’Conor. The parents of the Saint belonged to the district of Leinster; whether her being born at Fauchart was owing to their having a residence there also, or to their having been on a visit there at the time, cannot now be determined. Her biographer, Cogitosus, tells us that she received a good education: – “A sua pueritia bonarum literarum studiis inolevit;” and even in her childhood that extraordinary charity towards the poor, which so distinguished her in after life, manifested itself. Having grown up, she declined various offers of marriage, declaring her purpose of serving God in the Religious Life. In fulfilment of this resolution she had recourse to a holy Bishop named Maccaille, who had a Church at Cruachan-Bri-Eile, in Ifalgia, now the Hill of Croghan, where the site of his Church is still observable, and where his feast was celebrated on the 25th of April. The Bishop being satisfied as to her holy dispositions, received her to Religious Profession, by clothing her with a white mantle and placing a veil of the same colour on her head. Such was the dress of the early Irish nuns, and so it continued for some centuries after the time of St. Brigid :– “Ille, coeleste intuens desiderium, et pudicitiam, et tantam castitatis amorem in tali virgine, pallium album et vestem candidam super ipsius venerabile caput imposuit.” (Cogitosus.) The Profession of the Saint took place about the years 467 or 469. We are not here concerned about the first Communities founded by St. Brigid; the fame of her holiness having spread abroad, the people of her native place sent to invite her to found a Convent amongst them. In compliance with this request, she established herself at Kildare sometime about the year 470. Her first house there was a mere cell; after some time however, the number of those who flocked thither to serve God under her guidance became so great that she had to apply herself to the construction of a monastery of large proportions. This took place, according to Ware, in 480, but other authorities place the date somewhat later. For the details of the wonderful life of this great Servant of God the reader is referred to the Lives of the Irish Saints, by the Rev. J. O’Hanlon, M.R.I.A. The year in which St. Brigid died is uncertain; without entering into the merits of the disputed point, it will be sufficient to state that the weight of authority appears to favour the accuracy of the entry in the Annals of Ulster which assigns it to the year 523, in the 70th year of her age. “A.D. 523, Quies S. Brigidae, an. lxx aetatis suae.” The Annals of Donegal, at Feb. 1st, after tracing her illustrious descent, say, “It was Ultan of Ard-Breccain that collected the (account of the) virtues and miracles of Brigid together, and he commanded his disciple, Brogan to put them into poetry.” The Poem of St. Brogan-Cloen in praise of St. Brigid, here referred to, may be seen—both the original Irish and a Latin translation—in the I. E. Record for February, 1868. It was composed about the year 650, partly in the Monastery of St. Moedhoc, at Clonmore, in the County of Carlow. The Annals of Donegal, still treating of St. Brigid, say of her: –“It was this Brigid that did not take her mind or her attention from the Lord for the space of one hour at any time, but was constantly mentioning Him, and ever constantly thinking of Him, as is evident in her own Life, and also in the Life of St. Brenainn, Bishop of Cluainfearta. She was very hospitable and very charitable to guests and to needy people. She was humble, and attended to the herding of sheep and early rising, as her Life proves, and as Cuimin of Coindaire states in the Poem whose beginning is:– ‘Patrick of the fort of Macha loved,’ &c. Thus he says:–
‘The Blessed Virgin loved
Constant piety, which was not prescribed;
Sheep-herding and early rising,
Hospitality towards men of virtues.’
“She spent indeed 74 years diligently serving the Lord, per¬forming signs and miracles, curing every disease, and sickness in general. The Life of Ciaran of Cluain states, c. 47, that the Order of Brigid was (one) of the eight Orders that were in Erin.” February was called in Irish, “the month of Brigid’s festival;” and Irish writers style her the Mary of Erin, and, on account of her many virtues, assign to her, after the Mother of God, the second place amongst the virgin Saints in heaven. St. AEngus in the Feilire, thus marked her feast:-
“The Calends of February are magnified,
By a galaxy of martyrs of great valour;
Brigid the spotless, of loudest fame,
Chaste head of the nuns of Erin.”
The old Brehon laws prescribe special devotion to St. Brigid, and tribute to her Convent as duties of the Kings of Leinster. Through respect for the Saint, the town and suburbs of Kildare possessed the privilege of Sanctuary:—“ Maxima haec civitas et Metropolitana est; in cujus suburbanis, quae sancta certo limite designavit Brigida, nullus carnalis adversarius nec concensus timetur hostium.” (Trias Thaum. 534.) St. Tighernach, Abbot of Clones, and Bishop of Cloghar in succession to St. Maccarten, one of the most illustrious of the Saints of Erin, was baptized at Kildare by St. Conlaeth, St. Brigid acting as Sponsor. A gloss in the Leabhar Breac on the entry in the Feilire of AEngus at the 4th of April, the feast-day of this Saint, quaintly records this event as follows:—“Coirpre, son of Fergus of Leinster, i.e. of Leix, was Tighernach’s father. Or he is of Ui-Bairrchi. Now Coirpre bore him under cover to Kildare. He came into the guest-house. Brigid beheld a watch of angels over the head of the house, and she asked who was there. “One young man is there,” quoth the servant. “Look thou still,” quoth Brigid. Then he looked. “There is, in sooth,” quoth he, “a little babe in the young man’s bosom.” “Good is the babe,” quoth Brigid. Brigid (Conlaeth?) comes into the guest-house, and baptizes the child, and Brigid holds him at his baptism.
KILDARE CATHEDRAL. —The Church erected in the time of St. Brigid and St. Conlaeth was probably constructed of wood, like nearly all the Churches of that period. The earliest description of the Cathedral of Kildare extant, is that of Cogitosus, which is given in Vol. I. p. 3, of these Collections. This description was written early in the ninth century—be¬tween A.D. 799 and 835—as is proved thus: The writer describes the costly shrines of SS. Brigid and Conlaeth as they then existed at Kildare. Now, in the Annals of Ulster the enshrin¬ing of the Relics of St. Conlaeth is recorded to have taken place in 799; and these Shrines were carried away by the Danes in 835, when half the Church was burnt, as we learn from McGeoghegan. These facts fix the time when this description was written, as between these dates. Indeed the period might be narrowed even more; this writer states that Kildare was an inviolable Sanctuary, free from all apprehension of hostile attack, a description which could not be justly applied to it after 830, when “Ceallagh Mac Bran gave an overthrow to the Clergy of Kildare within their own house, when many of them were slain.” (Vide infra.) Petrie inclines to the belief that the Church described by Cogitosus was not constructed of wood; the supposition of Lanigan that it was so, being, in his opinion, by no means authorized by the text; the evidence adduced by Petrie relative to the antiquity of stone Churches in Ireland goes far to prove that that at Kildare was of this class. It will be also observable that the plan and general form of this Church which consisted of nave and chancel, was exactly that commonly adopted in the Abbey and Cathedral Churches in Ireland, and that the deviation from the usual custom, in having two lateral doorways instead of a single western one, is pointed out as a peculiarity necessary from the circumstance of the Church having been designed for the use of two communities of different sexes who had distinct and separate places assigned them, according to the almost universal practice of ancient times. The necessity for this separation of the sexes also led to the division of the nave, by a wooden partition, into two equal portions, which were entered by the lateral doorways already mentioned; and it led, again, to the piercing of the wall or partition, which separated the nave from the chancel, with a doorway on each side of the chancel arch, in order to admit the entrance into the chancel of the bishop with his chapter, on the right or south side, and of the abbess with her nuns on the left or north side. Another peculiar feature noticed in the description of the Church is its having a number of windows, whereas the Irish Churches were remarkable for the fewness of such apertures; this peculiarity arose from the arrangements of the Church into a double nave which, in consequence, required a double number of windows to light it. (Round Towers, p. 200.)
A.D. 835. In this year the Danes of Wicklow plundered Kildare and burned half the Church. They also carried away the costly Shrines of St. Brigid and St. Conlaeth. (Four Masters; McGeoghegan.) Although the Shrines of the Saints fell a prey to these marauders, the Relics—at least those of St. Brigid— were rescued from desecration, and were conveyed for safety to Down. In 1185 the Relics of SS. Patrick, Brigid, and Columba were discovered, an account of which and their subsequent translation in the year following is given in the Office of the Translation of these Saints, printed in Paris in 1620, and republished by Colgan. (Tr. Thaum.) (See Appendix to this Volume.) Dr. Lanigan thus summarizes this account. It being generally believed that the bodies of the three Saints were in Down, Malachy, its Bishop, used to pray frequently to God that He would vouchsafe to point out to him the particular place or places in which they were concealed. On a certain night, while fervently praying to this effect in the Church of Down, he saw a light like a sun-beam traversing the Church, which stopped at the spot where the bodies were. Immediately procuring the necessary implements, he dug in that spot, and found the bones of the three bodies, which he then put into distinct coffins, and placed again under the ground. Having communicated what had happened, to John de Courcey, then Lord of Down, they determined on sending messengers to Pope Urban III., for the purpose of procuring the removal or translation of these Relics to a more respectable part of the Church. The Pope, agreeing with their request, sent as his Legate on this occasion, Vivian, Cardinal Priest of St. Stephen in Monte Coelio, who had been at Down nine years before, and who was well acquainted with John de Courcey and the Bishop Malachy. On his arrival the Relics were removed with the usual solemnities, to a more distinguished part of the Church, on the 9th of June, the festival of St. Columba. They were deposited in one monument, according to the well-known distich:–
“Nunc tres in Duno tumulo tumulantur in uno,
Brigida, Patricius, atque Columba pius.”
Besides the Cardinal, there were present at this translation, fifteen bishops, together with abbots, provosts, deans, archdeacons, priests, &c. It was resolved that the anniversary of it should be celebrated in Ireland as a festival, and that the feast of St. Columba should be translated to the day after the octave of said festival, that is, to the 17th of June. (Eccl. Hist. IV. p. 275.) In the Annals of the Four Masters, at the year 1293, we find the following:—“It was revealed to Nicholas Mac Maelisa, (Coarb of St. Patrick), that the Relics of Patrick, Columbkille and Brigid were at Sabhall, (i.e. Saul, about two miles from Downpatrick); they were taken up by him, and great miracles were afterwards wrought by them, and after having been honourably covered, they were deposited in a Shrine.” This Shrine of the three great Patrons of Erin remained at Down till the time of Henry VIII. when it suffered desecration, in 1538. (Haverty, c. 30, p. 365.) It is, however, stated that the head of St. Brigid was rescued by some of the clergy, who conveyed it to Neustadt in Austria, and thence, in 1587, it was taken to the Church of the Jesuits at Lisbon, to whom it was given by the Emperor, Rudolf II. A Foot of St. Brigid which had been preserved in a Church dedicated to her in the Diocese of Cashel, is now in the possession of the Archbishop of that See. A portion of the veil of St. Brigid also, is amongst the treasures of the Redemptoristine Nuns at Dublin; and in the Gold Room of the Royal Irish Academy is preserved the Reliquary of the slipper of this Saint. This interesting object (No. 1023, in Catalogue), is thus described:—“Reliquary composed of brass, shoe-shaped, on upper portion jewel settings, Figure of Christ and head of St. John in relief, incised figure of female, decorations, monogram, etc., and the legend: Hoc est Juramentum naturale, 3. Anna Domini, 1410. Lochreich—S. Brigida Virgo Kildariensis— Hibernioe Patrona.” This inscription shows that the Relic was preserved at Lochrea, and was used as a Swearing Relic; Juramentum naturale signifying, no doubt, the same as Juramentum Corporale, a name by which all oaths were called, for the confirmation of which some sacred object was touched.
A.D. 868. The Church of Kildare was rebuilt by Queen Flanna, wife of Aedh Finliath, King of Ireland. In Fragments of Irish Annals, at this date, p. l 79, it is stated that this Queen was engaged at Kildare in the rebuilding of St. Brigid’s Church, and, whilst inspecting the works, she accidentally overheard the workmen conspiring against her husband. To this incident is due, Fr. Shearman remarks, (Loca Patr. 353), this casual reference to her piety in restoring, in 868, the Church which probably was in ruin since it was burned by the Danes in 835.
A.D. 1050. Kildare with its Daimlaig, (i.e. great stone Church), was burned. (Four Masters).
A.D. 1067. Kildare with its Church burnt. (Id.)
AD. 1132. St. Laurence O’Toole was Baptized at Kildare. His Life states that he was sent by his father, Maurice O’Toole, from his residence, in or near Castledermot, to a chieftain at Kildare called Donat or Dermot, who was charged with the duty of presenting the child at the Baptismal font. As the Saint’s father and this chieftain appear not to have been on friendly terms previously, it may have been that the birth of this child was taken as an opportunity for reconciliation; probably also, in compliment to Donat and to accommodate him, the ceremony was fixed to take place at Kildare.
A.D. 1136. Kildare Church was plundered by Dermod O’Bryan. (Annals of Inisfallen.)
Our Annalists record that in 1138, and again, in 1150, Kildare was burned; we may readily suppose that its Church continued in ruins.
A.D. 1223. Ralph de Bristol became Bishop of Kildare; he found his Cathedral ruinous. It is stated of him by Ware that “he was at no small expense in repairing and beautifying the Church of Kildare.” His work might more correctly be called the re-building of the Church, as it is to this period the structure now existing is referred by those qualified to speak on such subjects.
Dr. Edmund Lane, Bishop of Kildare from 1482 to 1513, along with building a College in which the Dean and Chapter should reside, repaired and beautified the Cathedral.
In 1600, the town of Kildare suffered so severely that all the houses were in ruins and without a single inhabitant; that the Cathedral shared in the general wreck is shown, firstly, in the Liber Regalis Visitationis of 1615, in which it is stated “Ecclesia Dioecesis Darensis situata est in villa de Kildare, et nunc admodum ruinosa est;” and again in the Report of Dr. Pilsworth, Protestant Bishop of Kildare, on the state of the Diocese, dated 13th May, 1622. “The roof of the Body of the said Church is altogether ruinous, being pulled down in the late wars. The parishioners of the same are so poor that they are unable to repair the same, unless his excellent majesty vouch safe of his wonted goodness to grant some extraordinary help and furtherance thereto.”(V.3, 1, 2; Marsh’s Library, Dublin.)
In 1641, the Cathedral suffered severely, having had the steeple beaten down by a cannonade. In March, 1642, Arch-deacon Golborne and Mr Lightborne deposed that “in the rebellion of 1641, the ornaments of the Cathedral of Kildare and the books belonging to the same, value ten pounds, also the chapter chest, containing all the evidences and rescripts of the chapter were, in December, 1641, taken away by Rosse McGeoghegan, titular Bishop of Kildare, Dempsey, his Vicar-General, William Borey, priest, and the friars of the Gray Abbey there, etc., and the Church and tithes and rents belonging to the said chapter were seized by the said Bishop, friars, and priests, to the yearly loss of the said Dean and Chapter of more than £130 per annum. (MS., T.C.D., F. 2, 6.) Dr. Rosse McGeoghegan restored and reconsecrated the ancient Cathedral of his Diocese, and there performed the sacred offices of our holy Religion. In 1643, the town was made a garrison post under the Earl of Castlehaven. In a curious Tract entitled, Triumphant Proceedings of the army in Ireland, we read that “In March, 1643, the Papists consecrated Kildare Church and sayd Mass in it. The maner was, that all Protestants’ bones were digged up, and corps buried in the Church were cast to the dung-hill; and they say it is lawful to say Mass; and thus they do in all consecration of Churches.”
The wars of the 17th century left the Cathedral in ruins. In 1686 the choir portion was fitted up for Protestant service, the rest of the building remaining in ruins, until the year 1871, when the work of restoration was taken in hands. The following is an extract from the Report drawn up, on this occasion, by the eminent Architect, the late Mr. Street:–
“This ancient Cathedral appears to have been built in the early part of the thirteenth century. It was a simple Cross Church, without aisles, but with—apparently—a Chapel of some kind opening out of the Eastern side of the South Transept. A Tower rose above the intersection of the arms of the cross; whilst a noble Round Tower stood, and still stands, not far from the Western end of the Nave.
“The state of the fabric at present is this:—The choir is the only part still roofed and used for service. Its architectural character is of the poorest description. The rest of the Church is in ruins. The South Transept and the Nave have lost their roofs, but almost all their other architectural features still remain, either intact or in such a state as to make their restora¬tion a matter of no difficulty. The Southern elevation of the South Transept is one of great simplicity and of good character and proportion. Its window is a well-designed triplet, simple externally, but with shafts and mouldings internally. The side walls of the Nave present a very remarkable design. The windows are
simple lancets, separated from each other by buttresses. Between these buttresses bold arches are formed, nearly on a face with the front of the buttresses, and with a nar¬row space between them and the face of the wall. The effect of this arrangement is to throw a very bold shadow over the window, and to produce a most picturesque effect. But the reason for it is not clear. It looks somewhat as though the men who were building had more acquaintance with military than with ecclesiastical architecture, and as though the defence of the Church from hostile attack was a chief motive in this part of the design—a part which, to me at least, is novel. Whatever the history of the design may be, this at any rate is certain, that the effect of it is very striking and picturesque.
“The West End of the Nave is destroyed, and its place occupied by a modern wall. It probably had a window either of five or of three lights, generally similar in detail to the window in the gable of the South Transept.
“The North Transept has been entirely destroyed, some part of it within a few years, when a new Tower was built in the angle between it and the Choir. This Tower is a poor erection, and most awkwardly placed, just behind the ruins of the noble Central Tower. The Central Tower is a mere wreck; one side only—the South—is fairly perfect; the whole of the rest of it has been destroyed. It is a work of fine design and proportion, not very lofty, but, in its complete state, so large as to give a good deal of the dignity of a Cathedral to what might otherwise have looked somewhat too much like a Parish Church.
“There are various other fragments of great architectural and antiquarian interest in this building; among them I may notice some fine encaustic tiles, and several fine monuments, with sculpture on the sides or slabs.
“Having given this general description of the character of the fabric, it remains for me to indicate what would, in my judgment, be the first steps that should be taken towards its repair and restoration. I should propose to take in hand the exact and careful restoration of the whole of the ancient portion of the Cathedral. This would involve repairs of stonework, re-erection of the roofs, and flooring of the Nave and Transepts, and the removal of the Modern Tower, and the restoration of the old one. Ample authority exists for the whole of this work, so that it might really be a work of restoration, in the best sense of the word.
“A few years more, and what now remains of this interesting Church may have become a thing of the past. Each winter’s rain and frost help to disintegrate the very fabric of the walls, and that which is possible now may not be possible ere long.”
The restoration, so far as it has been executed, has been done in strict accordance with the recommendations of Mr. Street; the great central tower has been rebuilt, and, except the choir, the other portions of the Church have been roofed in, the Duke of Leinster being the chief contributor to the fund for carrying on the works. A wing has been fitted up for religious service for the dozen worshippers who assemble there on Sundays. When the Restoration proper takes place; when this old Catholic Cathedral is restored to its rightful owners and to the worship of that religion for which it was erected, the work, now left unfinished, will, no doubt, be speedily completed.
ROUND TOWER OF KILDARE—The Cloichteach of Kildare is one of the largest and most interesting of its kind. It stands near the west end of the nave of the Cathedral, and is built of two kinds of stone, 13 feet being of white granite, and the rest of a common stone of a dark colour. It is terminated in a battlement, but this, it need hardly be remarked, is a modern addition of the last century, and replaces the usual conical termination. The chief architectural feature, however, is a fine Irish Romanesque doorway. “This interesting doorway,” writes Petrie, (Round Towers, p. 233), “is built of a hard silicious sand-stone, of light colour, the ornaments of which are carved in very low relief. Its general form may be described as consisting originally of four concentric arches, one recessed beyond the other, and resting on round pilasters or semi-columns, with flat imposts or capitals. The ornaments on the external arch have been long destroyed, and their places were supplied with rude masonry at the commencement of the last century. The ornaments on the recessed arches are also much injured, and the fourth, or innermost arch is the only one now remaining in tolerable preservation. The external arch is seven feet two inches in height, and three feet eight inches in width; the second arch is six feet ten inches in height, and three feet two inches in width; the third arch is six feet seven inches in height, and two feet ten inches in width; and the fourth or innermost arch is five feet eight inches in height, and two feet one inch in width, and one foot three inches in depth. The entire depth of the doorway, or thickness of the wall, is four feet; and the height of its floor from the ground is fifteen feet.” The period to which Petrie is inclined to ascribe the erection of this tower is that when the description of the Church was written by Cogitosus, namely, the close of the eighth, or beginning of the ninth century. “Indeed,” he adds, “were I disposed to venture on assigning this doorway to an earlier period, nay, even to the age of St. Brigid, to which Cambrensis would seem to refer it, there is, I think, nothing in its style of architecture which would invalidate such a supposition, as there is no feature in its decorations of which earlier examples may not be found in the corrupted architecture of Greece and Rome.” (Id. p. 232.) That the Tower of Kildare was, in the 12th century, considered of great antiquity, even so great as the time of St. Brigid, plainly appears from a story told by Cambrensis of a falcon which was thought to have frequented its summit from the days of that Saint. (De Falcone Kildarioe.) “From the time of Brigid a certain fine falcon used to resort this place and was accustomed to settle on the top of the Ecclesiastical Tower. Whence it was called by the people the Bird of Brigid, and was held in veneration by all. This bird, as if trained for the purpose, was wont, at the bidding of the inhabitants or the soldiers of the camp, to pursue the birds which resorted the plains and rivers about Kildare, and to bring them to earth with great velocity to the no small amusement of the beholders,” etc. This story is not worth quoting except for the incidental allusion made in it to the ecclesiastical tower. It may not be esteemed out of place to state here the conclusions to which Petrie has arrived, with regard to the date of the Irish Round Towers, and the uses which they were intended to serve. They are the following: —
I. That they were of Christian and ecclesiastical origin, and were erected at various periods between the fifth and thirteenth centuries.
II. That they were designed to answer, at least, a two-fold use, namely, to serve as belfries, and as keeps or places of strength, in which the sacred utensils, books, relics, and other valuables were deposited, and into which the ecclesiastics, to whom they belonged, could retire for security in case of sudden predatory attack.
III. That they were probably used, when occasion required, as beacons and watch-towers.
For these conclusions he adduces the following proofs:— 1. The Towers are never found unconnected with ancient ecclesi¬astical foundations. 2. Their architectural styles exhibit no features or peculiarities not equally found in the original Churches with which they were locally connected, when such remain. 3. On several of them, Christian emblems are observ¬able, and others display in the details a style of architecture universally acknowledged to be of Christian origin. 4. They possess, invariably, architectural features not found in any buildings in Ireland ascertained to be of Pagan times.
For the second conclusion:—
1. Their architectural construction eminently favours this conclusion. 2. A variety of passages, extracted from our Annals, and other authentic documents, will prove that they were con¬stantly applied to both these purposes.
For the third conclusion:—
1. There are some historical evidences which render such a hypothesis extremely probable. 2. The necessity which must have existed in early Christian times, for such beacons and watch-towers, and the perfect fitness of the Round Towers to answer such purposes, will strongly support this conclusion. For details of these arguments, see Petrie’s Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland with Essay on the Origin and Uses of the Round Towers.
Colonel Montmorency, in an Essay on the subject, remarks:– “The pillar-tower, as a defensive hold, taking into account the period that produced it, may fairly pass for one of the completest inventions that can well be imagined. Impregnable every way, and proof against fire, it could never be taken by assault. Although the abbey and its dependencies blazed around, the tower disregarded the fury of the flames; its extreme height, its isolated position and diminutive door-way, elevated so many feet above the ground, placed it beyond the reach of the destroyer. The signal once made, announcing the approach of a foe, by those who kept watch on the top, the alarm spread instantaneously, not only amongst the inmates of the cloister, but the inhabitants were roused to arms in the country many miles around.” It has also been observed by Sir Walter Scott, “These towers might possibly have been contrived for the temporary retreat of the priest, and the means of protecting the holy things from desecration on the occasion of alarm, which in these uncertain times suddenly happened and as suddenly passed away.” Cambrensis, writing in 1187, twice refers to these towers as ecclesiastical towers. “Turres ecclesiasticos quae more patriae arctae sunt et alta, necnon et rotundae;” and in the legend of the Falcon, he says, “Falco. . . . ecclesiasticae turris summitate insidere consueverat.” The first intention of the Irish tower was for strength of defence and faithfulness of watch. Bells, small as these which are left to us still, were deposited in them, and thus they came to be termed cloichteachs, i.e. bell-houses or places for the housing of bells. They may have served for the safe keeping of these objects which, in the early Irish Church, and connected with her saints, were accounted amongst her most sacred treasures, and were preserved with the shrine and crozier, in these keeps of the monastery. (Miss Stokes: Origin and Use of Irish Church Towers.)
FIRE-HOUSE OF ST. BRIGID.—Cambrensis, writing in the 12th century, thus refers to this fire, c. 34, et seq: –
“At Kildare in Leinster, which the glorious Brigid renders ennobled, many miracles are deserving of being recorded, amongst which the fire of St. Brigid comes first; this they call inextinguishable, not that it could not be extinguished, but because the nuns feed it with fuel and tend it so carefully that it has ever continued inextinct from the time of the Virgin, and not withstanding the great quantity of wood that has been consumed during so long a time, yet the ashes never accumulate. When, in the time of St. Brigid, twenty nuns had served the Lord here, she making the twentieth; after her glorious transit, nineteen always remained, and the number was not increased, and when each had kept the fire in order her own night, on the twentieth night the last nun put faggots on the fire, saying, ‘Brigid, keep your own fire, for this night has fallen to you;’ and the fire being left so, is found still burning in the morning, the fuel being consumed as usual. The fire is surrounded by a circular fence of twigs, within which a male enters not, and if one should by chance presume to enter, which was sometimes attempted by giddy persons, he escapes not without enduring punishment. Also it is permitted only for women to blow the fire, and for these not with their breath, but only with bellows or fans. In like manner the young of goats are not allowed here on account of the cause of the Virgin.” Cambrensis then tells of an archer of the family of Richard, Earl Marshall, who had leaped over the fence and blown the fire with his mouth, in punishment for which he became insane and died; and also of another who, being in the act of crossing the fence, and having one foot over, was drawn back and restrained by his comrades; the foot, with the leg, became withered forthwith, and he remained maimed for the rest of his life.
Ware records that A.D. 1220, “Henry de Loundres, Archbishop of Dublin, and Justiciary of Ireland, put out the fire called inextinguishable, which had been preserved from a very early time by the nuns of St. Brigid; this fire was, however relighted, and continued to burn till the total suppression of monasteries. The ruins of this Fire-house may still be seen.” Seward, Top. Hib., states that this fire was kept here for superstitious purposes, in a small cell or house, near the Church, 20 feet square, some ruins of which are still (1792) visible. This, and other writers, assert that this fire was a remnant of Paganism; that Brigid before her conversion had been a Vestal Virgin, etc. “Such assertions,” writes Dr. O’Donovan, (Ord. Papers), “are disgraceful to the human intellect. Where is the authority for saying that St. Brigid was ever a Vestal Virgin? How can it be proved that the preservation of this fire, for the use of the poor and strangers, was not a laudable and truly Christian idea? If St. Brigid wished to light a perpetual fire, could she not have done so on the authority of the Word of God? (Leviticus, vi. 12.)” The Lives of St. Brigid show that she was remarkable for her charity and hospitality towards the poor, pilgrims, and strangers. There can be hardly a doubt that it was to provide for the wants of these that this fire was kept constantly alight, and that her community after her demise kept it still burning, partly in continuation of her hospitable practice, and partly as a memorial of their holy Founder. Cogitosus, in his Life of the Saint, says that, imitating holy Job, she never suffered the poor to go unrelieved, and that she even, for this purpose, disposed of precious vestments which St. Conlaeth had brought from Rome; an act which St. Conlaeth, who thought that the line should be drawn somewhere, considered excessive, and found fault with:– Secundum enim exemplum beatissimi Job, (Brigida) nunquam inopes a se recedere sinu vacuo passa est; nam vestamenta transmarina et peregrina Episcopi Conlaeth, decorati luminis quibus in solemnitatibus Domini et Vigiliis Apostolorum sacra in altaribus offerens mysteria utebatur, pauperibus largita est.” (Tr. Thaum. e. 39, 522.) Archbishop de Loundres, an Englishman, and but lately arrived in the country, no doubt, had this perpetual fire at Kildare represented to him as a relic of Paganism, and acting seemingly with precipitancy, extinguished it; but, as has been told, it was soon relighted and continued alight as long as the Community of St. Brigid existed.
A Close Roll, dated Dublin, 28th January, 1397, directed Robert de Clayton, Clerk of the Hanaper, to grant letters of Royal Protection to the Prioress and Convent of the Fire-house of Kildare. “Priorissae et Conventui de Fyre-house de Kildaria.”
Hollinshed, a writer of the 16th century, in his Chronicle, states:— “There was in Kildare an ancient monument named the Fire-house… I travelled of set purpose to the towne of Kildare to see this place, where I did see such a monument like a vault, which to this daie they call the Fire-house.”
Giraldus Cambrensis describes a wonderful Manuscript still preserved at Kildare in his time. There is a growing belief that the Manuscript called the Book of Kells, now preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, is the identical Book described by Cambrensis. This Manuscript, writes Dr. Petrie, (Round Towers, p. 206), for beauty and splendour is not sur¬passed by any of its age known to exist; indeed, in looking at this exquisite piece of penmanship, it is difficult to avoid thinking that it is the very manuscript so elaborately described by Giraldus. Mr. Digby Wyatt, in a Paper read before the Royal Institute of British Architects, declares that in delicacy of handling and minuteness of faultless execution, the whole range of palaeology offers nothing comparable to the early Irish and British manuscript. When in Dublin he had the opportunity of studying very carefully the most marvellous of all, the Book of Kells, some of the ornaments of which he attempted to copy, but broke down in despair. Of this very book Mr. Westwood examined the pages as he did for hours together, without ever detecting a false line or an irregular interlacement. In one space of about a quarter of an inch superficial, he counted with a magnifying glass no less than 158 interlacements of a slender ribbon pattern, formed by white lines edged in black ones, and upon a black ground. “No wonder,” he adds, “that tradition should allege that these unerring lines should have been traced by angels.” The following is the description of the book and the composition of it, given by Cambrensis:— “Amongst all the wonderful things at Kildare nothing appears to me more wonderful than that admirable book written, as they say, at the time of the Virgin from the dictation of an angel. This Book contains a Harmony of the Four Evangelists according to St. Jerome; in which there are nearly as many different figures variously illuminated in colours, as there are pages. In one part you may behold the countenance of majesty divinely depicted; in another, the mystic emblems of the Evangelists, some represented with six, others with four, others with two, wings; here, an eagle, there a calf, now the face of a man, again, that of a lion, as well as an almost infinite number of other figures, which, if you merely glance at in the usual way without taking special notice of, they will appear to be blots rather than ligatures, and displaying nothing exquisite where, notwithstanding, there is nothing but what is exquisite. But if you examine them sharply and try to penetrate their beauty, you will be able to note the delicate, beautiful, and minute interlacings, in colours still fresh and bright, so that you would be led to believe that they were indeed the work of an angel rather than of man. The oftener and more carefully I have examined them, the more was I struck with new wonder, and each time I saw fresh subjects to call for ad
miration.” Giraldus then proceeds to relate the story of the writing of this Book as it was told in his time:— “On the first night (preceding the morning on which the writer was to commence the Book,) an angel stood by him in sleep showing him a picture depicted on a tablet which he held in his hand, and said, ‘Think you that you can depict this representation on the first page of the book which you are about to write?’ The scribe distrusting his ability to accomplish a work so artistic and unusual, answered that he could not. The angel then said, ‘On to-morrow morning, ask your mistress to offer prayers to the Lord for you, that He may enlighten and assist you both mentally and corporally, so that you may be able to see and apprehend the task proposed to you, and be able to execute it.’ After this, the angel again appeared to him on the succeeding night, displaying the same picture and also many others, all of which the scribe, apprehending, through the assistance of Divine Grace, fixed faithfully on his memory and carefully reproduced in their proper places throughout the volume. In this way was the Book written, the angel showing the pattern, St. Brigid praying, and the scribe copying.”
ABBESSES OF KILDARE.
The Line of Bishops of Kildare having been given in Vol. I., we have now to set down the list of Abbesses in succession to St. Brigid, as far as they could be ascertained from our national Annals. St. Brigid died, probably in A.D. 523, and in the same year is recorded the death of St. Blatha or Flora, said in the Tr. Thaum, to have been cook to St. Brigid.
A.D. 524. St. Darlugdacha, who succeeded St. Brigid as Abbess, died on the 1st February. She was honoured on the same day, (AA. SS. 229.)
A.D. 580. St. Talulla, daughter of Nadfraich, Abbess of Kildare, died. (AA. SS. 340.) In the Martyrology of Tallaght her feast is entered at the 8th January:—“Tuililatha, V., Abb. Cilli dara.”
A.D. 590. St. Comnata, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Tr. Thaum, 629.) Her feast appears in Mart. Tall. at 1st January.
A.D. 687. Gnathnat, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Four Masters; Tr. Thaum, 629.)
A.D. 726. St. Sebhdann, daughter of Corc, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Four Masters.)
A.D. 738. St. Affrica, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 753. St. Martha, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 768. Lerthan, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 792. Condal, daughter of Murchad, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 796. The Annals of Ulster state that Condata, Abbess of Kildare, died this year. This probably is a mistake for Condal.
A.D. 800 (recte, 807 O’D.) St. Fine, Abbess of Kildare, died on the 9th January. (Four Masters.)
A.D. 829. Muireun, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 833. Affric, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 853. Catan, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 883. Tuilelaith, daughter of Uarghalach. Abbess of Kildare, died, on the 10th of January. (Id.)
A.D. 907. Muirionn was Abbess of Kildare. In this year, Cormac, Archbishop of Cashel and King of Munster, bequeathed his horse to this Abbey with its splendid trappings, one ounce of gold, and an embroidered vestment. (Keating’s Hist. Ireland.)
A.D. 914. Cobhflaith daughhter of Duibhduin, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Four Masters.)
A.D. 916. Muireann, daughter of Suart, Abbess of Kildare, died on the 26th of May. (Id.)
A.D. 927. The Danes of Dublin, under Godfred, plundered this, and all the other Religious houses at Kildare.
A.D. 962. Muireann, daughter of Mac Colman, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 977. (recte, 979, O’D.) Muireann, daughter of King Congalagh, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1015. Eithne, daughter of Suairt, successor of Brigid, died. (McGeoghegan.)
A.D. 1069. The Abbess Domgilla, died. (McGeoghegan.)
A.D. 1072. Duibhoil, successor of Brigid, died. (Four Masters.)
A.D. 1112. Gormlaith, daughter of Murchadh, son of Dairmaid, successor of Brigid, died after penance. (Id.) “Among the holy females of these times, the most celebrated seems to have been Gormlat or Gormfhlaith, daughter of Morogh Mac-Maol-nambo, a Leinster Prince, and Abbess of Kildare, celebrated for her austerities, who died in 1112.” (Lanigan, IV., 54.)
A.D. 1135. The Abbess of Kildare was forcibly taken from her cloister by Dermot McMorrough, King of Leinster, and compelled to marry one of his people; in perpetrating this outrage he killed 170 of the townspeople and household of the Abbess. (Annals of (Clonmacnoise.)
A.D. 1167. Mor, daughter of Donall O’Conor Faily, Abbess of Kildare, died. (Four Masters; Tr. Thaurn.)
A.D. 1171. Sadhbh, daughter of Gluiniairn MacMurchadha, successor, of Brigid, died, after penance. (Four Masters.)
Our Annalists do not appear to have recorded the names of the Abbesses of this monastery from this time till its suppression, temp. Henry VIII.
On the 4th January, 1585, a Grant was made to Anthony Deeringe, of this monastery, with a castle adjoining, 2 tenements, 8 acres of land in the town and fields of Kildare, and 4 messuages, 44 acres in Calliaghton alias Knockencayllagh, in said county, lately demised by Redmond Oge Fitzgerald, for 21 years, at the annual rent of £3 l0s. 8d., Irish money; to hold the same for ever, as of the manor of Kells, and not in capite. (Auditor General.)
An Inquisition, taken 3rd August, 1606, finds that the last Abbess was seized of the townland of Knockinalliagh, containing 80 acres of arable, annual value, besides reprises, 40s. (Chief Remembrancer.)
ABBOTS OF KILDARE.
It is very probable that the clergy serving the Church of Kildare, from the time of the establishment of the See, lived in Community, of which the Bishop was the Superior, or Abbot. St. Conlaith, St. Aedh, etc., are styled in our Annals, Abbots and Bishops of Kildare; but it does not appear that there was a Religious house of men, as such, founded until perhaps a century later, when the Canons Regular of St. Augustine are supposed to have established themselves there. The names are given below, of those recorded by our Annalists as Abbots of Kildare; it will be borne in mind that, of the earlier names, some were certainly, others most probably, Bishops of the See.
A.D. 519. St. Conlaeth, Abbot and Bishop of Kildare, died on the 3rd of May. The Mart. Donegal says of him:— “Roinchenn was his first name. He was of the race of Laeghaire Lorc, son of Ugaine Mor. From this Laeghaire Lorc, who was monarch of Erin, the Leinstermen are descended.” A commentator on the Feil. AEng. in Leabhar Breac, states:— “Ronchend was Conlaed’s name at first, and he is called My-Conda of Daire. Conlaed, i. Cunnail Aed, i.e. friendly Aed (Hugh) was his name, and Bishop of Kildare was he, and wolves devoured him at Sciaich Conlaed, beside Liamain (Dunlavin) in Mog-Laigen.”
A.D 520. St. Naithfraich, Abbot of Kildare, and said to have been charioteer to St. Brigid, died. (Tr. Thaum, 629.) This Saint’s festival was celebrated on the 11th December. The fable of his having been charioteer to St. Brigid is probably accounted for by the entry in the Mart. Don. at this day:– “Nadfraeich, Bishop. The Life of Brigid (c. 17) states that Nadfraeich, of the men of Tuirbhi, was her lector and her preacher; for she said after she received orders (after her Pro¬fession) that she would not take food without being previously preached to.” St. Naithfraich then was her spiritual director, not the director of her horses.
A.D. 638. St. Aedh, surnamed Dubh, or the dark, Abbot and Bishop of Kildare, died, on the 10th of May. He had been at first King of Leinster. (Four MM.)
A.D. 694. St. Loichene Meann, or the Silent, surnamed the Wise, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Id.) Two feasts in his honour are marked in the Mart. Tall., viz., the 12th January, and the 12th June. The latter is named in Tr. Thaum, as the day of his demise.
A.D. 697. Forannan, Abbot of Kildare, died on the 15th Jan. (Id.)
A.D. 743. St. Dodimog, anchorite, Abbot of Kildare and of Clonard, died. (Four MM.; McGeoghegan.)
A.D. 747. Cathal, son of Forannan, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Four MM.)
A.D. 792 (recte 798, O’D.) Eudus O’Dicholla, Abbot of Kil¬dare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 799. (recte 804, O’D.) Faelan, son of Ceallach, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 816. St. Airbertach, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Tr. Thaum., Four MM.)
A.D. 821. Muireadach, son of Ceallach, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Four MM.)
A.D. 827. Siadhal, or Sedulius, son of Fearadhach, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Id.) Of him Lanigan, Eccl. Hist. III., 255, says:— “Sedulius in all probability was the author of the Com¬mentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul, which are universally allowed to have been written by an Irish man of that name. Some other works, under the name of Sedulius, were probably also written by him. He must not be confounded with Sedulius, Abbot, and Bishop of Roscommon, who died in 814, whereas the Abbot of Kildare lived until 829. That the author of the Commentaries referred to, was Sedulius of Kildare seems unquestion¬able, particularly as he was living in 818, at which year, as marked by Hepidanus, the monk of St. Gall, a Sedulius Scottus was greatly distinguished.” For other works attributed to this author, see Lanigan, III., 256, n. 125.
A.D. 863. ‘Ceallach, son of Ailell, Abbot of Kildare, and the Abbot of Ja, died in Pictland. (Four MM.)
A.D. 868. Cobhthach, Abbot of Kildare, who was a wise man and learned doctor, died. (Four MM.)
A.D. 870. Moreigh McBroyn, who had swayed the sceptre of Leinster, but meekly resigning, became Abbot of Kildare, died. (Tr Thaum, 629.)
A.D. 873. Lasran MacMoctigern, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 878. Suibny O’Finachta, Abbot of Kildare, —Bishop of Kildare, according to the Four MM., — died. (Id.)
A.D. 881. Scannal, styled ABBOT, by Colgan, and Bishop, by the Four MM., died on the 27th June.
A.D. 882. St Muredach, son of Brann, King of Leinster, Abbot of Kildare, died (Tr. Th.)
A.D. 883. The Blessed Tuathal, son of Ailbhe, Abbot of Kildare, died. The Danes spoiled Kildare and its religious houses, this year, taking captive, thence, the age and reverend Abbot Swyney MacDuffe Davoren, together with 280 of his clergy and community. (Tr. Thaum, 629.) This Abbot appears to have regained his freedom; we find his death recorded, as Prior of Kildare, in the year 903.
A.D. 920. Died Flanagan McRiagan, Abbot of Kildare and Prince of Moylepoile McAillilla; he was esteemed the best scribe and anchorite in the kingdom of Leinster. (Tr. Thaum., 629.)
A.D. 953. Culean McCellagh, Abbot of Kildare, was slain by the Danes of Dublin, when they pillaged the town. (1d.)
A.D. 965. Mured MacFoelan, Abbot of Kildare, of the Royal Blood of Leinster, was slain by Amlave, Prince of the Danes, and Kerbal McLorcan. (AA. SS. 107; Harris’s Ware.)
A.D. 1030. Mael Martin, Abbot of Kildare, died. (Colgan.) He was Bishop of Kildare, as appears from Four MM.
A.D. 1041. Murchad, son of Dunlang, notwithstanding all the opposition which the Abbot could make, forcibly carried from Kildare as a prisoner, Gillacomgal, the son of Donchuan and grandson of Dunlang. (Tr Thaum.)
Finn McGussan, Bishop of Kildare, who died in 1085, is styled Abbot, by Colgan, as also the five succeeding Bishops of Kildare. (Tr. Thaum, 630.)
ANNALS OF THE CITY OF KILDARE.
Kildare owed its origin to St. Brigid, and may date its foundation from the period when that Saint founded her monastery there; about the year 470. Her biographer, Cogitosus, writing at the end of the eighth, or commencement of the ninth century, states that “in honour of St. Brigid a very great city sprung up which at this day, (the period above referred to), is the Metropolis of the Leinstermen.” The schools of Kildare were amongst the most famous in Ireland, as may be judged from the number of distinguished scholars who taught there and whose names appear in her records. Another remarkable thing in the history of Kildare is, the great number of times we find it to have been burnt and spoiled. Some of these burnings appear to have been accidental, these for instance which occurred prior to the time when Cogitosus wrote; if these had been acts of violence, he could not have stated, as he does, that “the city and suburbs possessed the privilege of sanctuary which no one dares to violate.” Later on, however, it was, for three hundred years and more, the object of frequent raids, sometimes, indeed, perpetrated by native chiefs, but, for the most part, by the Danes who had established themselves, at Dublin, Waterford, Wicklow, and Wexford. The subjoined entries are taken from our historical records:–
A.D. 686. The repose of Banbhan, scribe of Kildare. (Fragments of I. Annals)
A.D. 708. Kildare was burned. (Four MM.)
A.D. 720. St. Colman Banban, scribe of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 724. MacOnchon, scribe of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 770. Kildare was burnt. (Id.)
A.D. 774. Kildare was burnt. (Id.)
A.D. 777. (recte 782, O’D.) The battle of Cuirreach (the Curragh) by the side of Kildare, was fought on the sixth of the Calends of September, on Tuesday, between Rory, son of Faelan, and Bran, son of Muiaradach, wherein Mughron, son of Flann, Lord Offaly, and Dubhdachrich, son of Laidhgnen, were slain in a combat. The victory was gained by Rory. (Four MM.) The Annals of Ulster add that Bran was taken prisoner: —Bran captivus ductus est.
A.D. 799. In this year the Relics of St. Conlaeth were placed in a shrine of gold and silver. (Annal. Ult.)
A.D. 803. (recte 808, O’D.) Finshneachta, son of Ceallach, King of Leinster, died at Kildare. (Four MM.)
A.D. 825. The destruction of the Fair of Colman, by Muireadbach, against the South Leinstermen, when many were slain. (Annals Ulster.) The Fair of Colman, or Circinium Colmain, was held on the present Curragh of Kildare, in Campo Liphe where the royal fair and sports of Leinster were celebrated. The Curragh is styled, throughout the Annals of the Four Masters, Curragh Liffey, from which it may be concluded that the Curragh anciently extended eastward, as far as the river Liffey. The word Curragh has two significations, namely, a shrubby moor, and a level plain or race-course; and it appears from the derivation given in Cormac’s Glossary, that it has this two-fold signification from a very early period. (O’Donovan.) Local tradition states that the King of Leinster who was contemporary with St. Brigid, had the deformity of long ears, like those of an ass, which rendered him unpopular. He applied to the Saint for a cure, and promised, in return, to grant her any request. St. Brigid consented. She threw him into a sleep, from which when he awoke, he found he had a pair of shapely ears. He asked her what reward she desired. Brigid, wishing to be moderate, replied, that all she would ask was as much land near her cell as her mantle would cover. St. Brigid spread her mantle on the field, and lo! God caused the cloak to extend so that it covered all now known as the Curragh. The King, astonished at the miracle, at once gladly conferred on her the whole extent. This King’s grandson, Aed Dubh, who was chosen King of the Province by the unanimous voice of the Lagenians, became Abbot of the monastery established near the nunnery of Kildare. St. Brigid never prevented the neighbour¬ing people from turning their cattle to graze upon the land. Giraldus states:— “There are also here (Kildare) most delightful plains, which are called the pasturage of St. Brigid, into which no one dares enter a plough, and of which it is estimated as a miracle that although the cattle of the whole Province may have clipped the grass close to the ground in the evening, it will appear the next morning as high as ever; as if it had been said of these pastures:–
“Et quantum longis carpunt armenta diebus,
Exigua tantum gelidus ros nocte reponit.”
“And as much as the herds crop during the long day,
So much does the cold dew restore during the night.”
At the North-west extremity of the Curragh, where the road enters the townland of Rathbride, there is a square stone, raised on a small mound. It is about 33 inches by 44, and about 3 feet high. It was evidently hammered, and on top there is a hollow, about one foot square, but shallow, and evidently made with a chisel. It is called the wart-stone. Dr. O’Donovan supposes that it is the base of a cross, perhaps erected by St. Brigid to mark the limit of her pasturage. (Ord. Papers.)
A.D. 830. Ceallach Mac Bran, gave an overthrow to the clergy of Kildare, within their own house, where there were many and infinite number of them slain on St. John’s Day in harvest. (Annals of Clonmacnoise.)
A.D. 834. Caenchombrac, son of Siadhal, (Economus of Kildare, died. (Four MM.)
AD. 835. The taking of the Oratory of Kildare upon Forannan, Abbot of Armagh, with all the congregation of Patrick likewise, by Feidhlimidh, by battle and arms; and the clergy were taken by him with their submission. In the same year, Kildare was plundered by the foreigners of Inbher-Deaa, (the Danes of Wicklow) and half the Church was burned by them. (Id.)
A.D. 836. O’Halloran and McGeoghegan record that, in this year, a Danish fleet of 30 sail arrived in the Liffey, and another in the Boyne; they destroyed, amongst other places, Kildare, by fire and sword, and carried away the rich shrines of St. Brigid and St. Conlaeth.
A.D. 843. Dun-Masg (Dunamase) was plundered by the foreigners, where Aedh, Abbot of Terryglass and Clonenagh, was taken prisoner; and they carried him into Munster, where he suffered martyrdom for the sake of God; and Kehernagh Mac-Comosgaye, Prior of Kildare, and many others besides, was killed by them during the same plundering excursion. (Four MM.)
A.D. 850. Airtri, son of Faelan, Airchinnech of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 883. The plundering of Kildare by the foreigners, who carried off with them fourteen score persons into captivity to their ships, with the Prior, Suibhne, besides other valuable pro¬perty which they carried away. (Id.)
A.D. 887. The plundering of Kildare by the foreigners. (Id.)
A.D. 895. The plundering of Kildare by the foreigners. (Id.)
AD. 915. The plundering of Kildare by the foreigners of Ceann-Fuaid, (Confey.) (Id.)
A.D. 916. Kildare was plundered by the foreigners of Ath Cliath, (Dublin.) (Id.)
A.D. 924. Kildare was plundered by the foreigners of Port-Lairge, (Waterford). (Id.)
A.D. 926. The plundering of Kildare by the son of Godfrey Port-Lairge, who carried away captives and great spoils from thence. (Id.)
A.D. 927. The plundering of Kildare by Godfrey, on the festival of St. Brigid. Same year, Dunchadh, son of Braenan, Priest of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 929. Onchu, Priest of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 940. Kildare was plundered by Blacaire, son of Godfrey, and the foreigners of Ath-Cliath. (Id.)
A.D. 962. Colman, Professor (or Lector) of Kildare, died. Same year, Kildare was plundered by the foreigners, and a great number of seniors and ecclesiastics were taken prisoners there; but Nial Ua-heruilbh ransomed them. The fall of St. Brigid’s House and the full of the Oratory of them, is what Niall purchased with his own money. (Id.) This event is thus recorded in the Annals of Clonmacnoise: —“ Kildare rifled by Genties, but O’Nerulo through merciful pitie tooke pitty on them, and redeemed all the clergi almost, for the name of the Lord, viz., the full of St. Brigid’s House, and the oratora-full, he redeemed all by his owne monie.
A.D. 965. Conor, Professor of Kildare, died. (Four MM.)
A.D. 977. Kildare was plundered by the foreigners. (Id.)
AD. 981. Kildare was plundered by Imhar of Port-Lairge.(Id.)
A.D. 991. Diarmaid, Professor of Kildare and Abbot of Clon¬enagh, died, of whom was said:–
“Diarmaid, stronghold of noble wisdom, a man of generous fame, of great battle;
Pity, O King of the righteous laws, that death has now approached him.” (Id.)
A.D. 998. Kildare was plundered by the foreigners of Ath-cliath. (Id.)
A.D. 1022. The plundering of Kildare by Donnsleibhe and the Ui Faelan. (Id.)
A.D. 1024. Donnsleibhe, son of Maelmordha, Con of Ui-Faelan, set out on a predatory excursion into Offaly, and the lord of Offaly and some of the Ui-Muireadhaigh, overtook and slew him as he was plundering Kildare. (Id.)
A.D. 1038. Flanagan, Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1041. Colgrach Ua Toicthigh, Chief Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.) Same year, Gillachomhghaill, son of Donnchuan, son of Dunlaing, was forcibly carried away from Kildare, by Murchaidh, son of Dunlaing, where outrage was offered to the successor of Brigid. The two sons of the son of Faelan, son of Murchaidh, namely, Donnchadh and Gluniarn, were slain at Kildare, by the two sons of Braen, son of Maelmordha. (Id.)
A.D. 1046. Maelbrighde, priest of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1050. Diarmaid Uu Lachan, Professor of Kildare, died; Kildare with its Daimlaig, (stone church,) was burned. (Id.)
A.D. 1063. MacDonghail, Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1067. Kildare, with its church, burnt. (An. Ult.)
A.D. 1069. Cobhthach, priest of Kildare, head of the glory and dignity of Leinster, died. (Id.) The Annals of Clonmacnoise have it: “Cowhagh—Flower of Leinster.”
A.D. 1071. Kildare was burned. (Id.)
A.D. 1089. Kildare was burned. (Id.)
A.D. 1099. Kildare was burned in the spring of this year. (Id.)
A.D. 1103. Mac-mic-Branan, priest of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1104. Cosgrach Ua Cruaidhan, Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1110. Feardomhnach, the most distinguished of the senior jurisconsults, Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.) The Annals of Ulster have this entry thus: “Blind Ferdonach, chief learned in Lawe, and Lector of Kildare, died.”
A.D. 1126. Conor O’Cleirigh, Professor of Kildare, died. (Id.)
A.D. 1127. Carroll Ua Failain was killed by the Ui-Failghe, with some of his servants and chieftains along with him, within Kildare, defending the Coarbship of St. Brigid. (Ann. Ult.)
A.D. 1135. The Abbesse of Kildare was forced and taken out of her cloisters by Dermott MacMorrogh, King of Lynster, and compelled to marrie one of said Dermott’s people; at whose taking he killed a hundred and seventie of the townsmen and house (hold) of the Abbesse. (Ann. Clonmacn.)
A.D. 1136. Kildare church was plundered by Dermod O’Bryan. (Ann. Innisfallen.)
A.D. 1138. Kildare was burned. (Four MM.)
A.D. 1143. Kildare was burned. (Id.)
A.D. 1155. Kildare was burned. (Id.)
A history of the Roman Catholic Parish of Kildare by Rev. Comerford. Typed by Brid; edited and checked by James Durney