Saint Patrick in the Annals of the Four Masters

In the year 1632 four dedicated Irish Scholars came together in a small monastic settlement, to compile and write a history of Ireland from the earliest times to their own days. Their work, The Annals of the Four Masters, remains one of the greatest sources of Irish history.

The Annals of the Four Masters gives interesting, but not necessarily accurate information.

The Age of Christ, 430. (The second year of Laeghaire.)

In this year Pope Celestinus the First sent Palladius to Ireland, to propagate the faith among the Irish, and he landed in the country of Leinster with a company of twelve men. Nathi, son of Garchu, refused to admit him; but, however, he baptized a few persons in Ireland, and three wooden churches were erected by him, namely, Cell Fhine, Teach Na Romhan, and Domhnach Arta.

At Cell Fhine he left his books, and a shrine with the relics of Paul and Peter, and many martyrs besides. He left these four in these churches: Augustinus, Benedictus, Silvester, and Solinus. Palladius, on his returning back to Rome (as he did not receive respect in Ireland), contracted a disease in the country of the Cruithnigh, and died thereof.

The Age of Christ, 431. (The third year of Laeghaire.)

Saint Patrick was ordained bishop by the holy Pope, Celestine the First, who ordered him to go to Ireland, to preach and teach faith and piety to the Gaeidhil, and also to baptize them.

The Age of Christ, 432. (The fourth year of Laeghaire.)

Patrick came to Ireland this year, and proceeded to baptize and bless the Irish, men, women, sons, and daughters, except a few who did not consent to receive faith or baptism from him, as his Life relates.

Ath Truim was founded by Patrick, it having been granted by Fedhlim, son of Laeghaire, son of Niall, to God and to him, Loman, and Fortchern. Flann Mainistrech cecinit:

Patrick, Abbot of all Ireland,
son of Calphrann, son of Fotaide,
Son of Deisse,—not fit to be dispraised,
son of Cormac Mor, son of Lebriuth,

Son of Ota, son of Orric the Good,
son of Moric, son of Leo of full success,
Son of Maximus, ’tis not unfit to name him,
son of Encretti, the tall and comely,

Son of Philisti, the best of men,
son of Fereni without a tempest,
Son of Britan, otter of the sea,
from whom the vigorous Britons came;

Cochnias was his modest mother;
Nemthor his native town;
Of Munster not small his share,
which Patrick redeemed from sorrow.
The Age of Christ, 438. (The tenth year of Laeghaire.)

The Seanchus and Feinechus of Ireland were purified and written, the writings and old books of Ireland having been collected and brought to one place, at the request of Saint Patrick. These were the nine supporting props by whom this was done: Laeghaire, i.e. King of Ireland, Corc, and Daire, the three kings; Patrick, Benen, and Cairneach, the three saints; Ross, Dubhthach, and Fearghus, the three antiquaries, as this quatrain testifies:

Laeghaire, Corc, Daire the stern,
Patrick, Benen, Cairneach the just,
Ross, Dubhthach, Fearghus with goodness,
the nine props these of the Seanchus Mor.
The Age of Christ, 447.(The nineteenth year of Laeghaire.)

Secundinus, i.e. Seachnall Mac Ua Baird, the son of Patrick’s sister, Darerca, Bishop of Ard Macha (Armagh), yielded his spirit on the twenty seventh of November, in the seventy fifth year of his age.

The Age of Christ, 448. (The twentieth year of Laeghaire.)

The family of Patrick of the prayers,
who had good Latin,
I remember; no feeble court were they,
their order, and their names.

Sechnall, his bishop without fault;
Mochta after him his priest;
Bishop Erc his sweet spoken Judge;
his champion, Bishop Maccaeirthinn;

Benen, his psalmist;
and Coemhan, his chamberlain;
Sinell his bell ringer,
and Aithcen his true cook;

The priest Mescan, without evil,
his friend and his brewer;
The priest Bescna, sweet his verses,
the chaplain of the son of Alprann.

His three smiths, expert at shaping,
Macecht, Laebhan, and Fortchern.
His three artificers, of great endowment,
Aesbuite, Tairill, and Tasach.

His three embroiderers, not despicable,
Lupaid, Erca, and Cruimthiris.
Odhran, his charioteer, without blemish,
Rodan, son of Braga, his shepherd.

Ippis, Tigris, and Erca,
and Liamhain, with Eibeachta:
For them Patrick excelled in wonders,
for them he was truly miraculous.

Carniuch was the priest that baptized him;
German his tutor, without blemish.
The priest Manach, of great endowment,
was his man for supplying wood.

His sister’s son was Banban, of fame;
Martin his mother’s brother.
Most sapient was the youth
Mochonnoc, his hospitaller.

Cribri and Lasra, of mantles,
beautiful daughters of Gleaghrann.
Macraith the wise, and Erc,—
he prophesied in his three wills.

Brogan, the scribe of his school;
the priest Logha, his helmsman,—
It is not a thing unsung,—
and Machui his true fosterson.

Good the man whose great family they were,
to whom God gave a crosier without sorrow;
Chiefs with whom the bells are heard,
a good family was the family of Patrick.

May the Trinity, which is powerful over all,
distribute to us the boon of great love;
The king who, moved by soft Latin,
redeemed by Patrick’s prayer.
The Age of Christ, 457. (The twenty ninth year of Laeghaire.)

The battle of Ath Dara was fought against the Leinstermen by Laeghaire, son of Niall. Laeghaire was taken in that battle; and Laeghaire took oaths by the Sun and the Wind, and all the elements, to the Leinstermen, that he would never come against them, after setting him at liberty.

Ard Machab [Armagh] was founded by Saint Patrick, it having been granted to him by Daire, son of Finnchadh, son of Eoghan, son of Niallan. Twelve men were appointed by him for building the town. He ordered them, in the first place, to erect an archbishop’s city there, and a church for monks, for nuns, and for the other orders in general, for he perceived that it would be the head and chief of the churches of Ireland in general.

Old Patrick yielded his spirit.

[Old Patrick: Patrick of Glastonbury?]

The Age of Christ, 493. (The fifteenth year of Lughaidh.)

Patrick, son of Calphurn, son of Potaide, archbishop, first primate, and chief apostle of Ireland, whom Pope Celestine the First had sent to preach the Gospel and disseminate religion and piety among the Irish, was the person who separated them from the worship of idols and spectres, who conquered and destroyed the idols which they had for worshipping; who had expelled demons and evil spirits from among them, and brought them from the darkness of sin and vice to the light of faith and good works, and who guided and conducted their souls from the gates of hell (to which they were going), to the gates of the kingdom of heaven.

It was he that baptized and blessed the men, women, sons and daughters of Ireland, with their territories and tribes, both fresh waters and sea inlets. It was by him that many cells, monasteries, and churches were erected throughout Ireland; seven hundred churches was their number. It was by him that bishops, priests, and persons of every dignity were ordained; seven hundred bishops and three thousand priests was their number. He worked so many miracles and wonders, that the human mind is incapable of remembering or recording the amount of good which he did upon earth. When the time of St. Patrick’s death approached, he received the Body of Christ from the hands of the holy Bishop Tassach, in the 122nd year of his age, and resigned his spirit to heaven.

There was a rising of battle, and a cause of dissension in the province contending for the body of Patrick after his death. The Ui Neill and the Oirghialla attempted to bring it to Armagh; the Ulta to keep it with themselves. And the Ui Neill and the Oirghialla came to a certain water, and the river swelled against them so that they were not able to cross it in consequence of the greatness of the flood. When the flood had subsided these hosts united on terms of peace, i.e. the Ui Neill and the Ulta, to bring the body of Patrick with them. It appeared to each of them that each had the body conveying it to their respective territories, so that God separated them in this manner, without a fight or battle. The body of Patrick was afterwards interred at Dun Da Lethglas with great honour and veneration; and during the twelve nights that the religious seniors were watching the body with psalms and hymns, it was not night in Magh Inis or the neighbouring lands, as they thought, but as if it were the full undarkened light of day. Of the year of Patrick’s death was said:

Since Christ was born, a correct enumeration,
Four hundred and fair ninety,
Three years add to these,
Till the death of Patrick, chief Apostle.