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Saint Moling Luachra: A pilgrimage from Sliabh Luachra to Rinn Ros Broic above the stream-pools of the Barrow

30 November, 1999

This is an edition and translation of the 10th century Middle Irish text “The Birth and Life of St Moling” (“Geinemain Moiling ocus a Bhetae”) with analysis and commentary by Presentation Sister and Irish scholar Máire B. de Paor. In approaching this work she warns against looking for objective historical data and shows that when […]

This is an edition and translation of the 10th century Middle Irish text “The Birth and Life of St Moling” (“Geinemain Moiling ocus a Bhetae”) with analysis and commentary by Presentation Sister and Irish scholar Máire B. de Paor. In approaching this work she warns against looking for objective historical data and shows that when we know the motifs and techniques of the literary genre of hagiography, we can understand what the real intention and message of the medieval writer was.

267 pp. The Columba Press. To purchase this book online, go to www.columba.ie

CONTENTS

Preface 
Acknowledgements 

INTRODUCTION 
Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae, The Birth and Life of Moling 
SOURCES FOR THE LIFE OF MOLING LUACHRA 
THE MEDIEVAL STYLE OF WRITING 

The expulsion and return pattern 
Parallel patterns 
Concentric structure 
Chiastic structure 
Numerological technique: Perfect symmetry and the divine proportion23
Gematria 
Triangular and Solid numbers 
The number 153 
Life Death and Resurrection 
The eternal Jerusalem 

MOLING’S IRELAND 

PART I 
A  MOLING’S CONCEPTION AND BIRTH. A SERVICE OF ANGELS

Moling’s noble ancestry and earthly inheritance
Moling’s conception in Uí Dheagha in Leinster
His birth in west Munster. Angels. A dove protects him

PART II
B  MOLING’S LIFE IS ENDANGERED

His mother Éamhnaid seeks to kill Moling. A service of angels
Collanach the teacher. Moling the student
Servant of his fosterer and fellow-students 

PART III 
C  THE PROPHESIED ONE: MOLING LUACHRA 

The evil Phantom. A monk’s staff
Three leaps towards the King of heaven and earth
The prophesied one, Moling Luachra
Breanainn’s hearth and home ‘by the stream-pools of the Barrow’
Moling tinge moire will make his dwelling here 
Moling’s country and kindred. Forgiveness
A monk’s tonsure

PART IV 
D  MOLING IN QUEST OF A SITE FOR AN ORATORY

Cluain Cáin Módimóc. A revelation  
‘Go to the place which the angel has promised you’ 
Rinn Ros Broic. A service of angels 

PART V
E  THE ORATORY: ENCOUNTER WITH CHRIST

In the name of the Triune God
The Evil One in the guise of a student
An angel in the guise of an old cleric
The Lord in the guise of a leper
Íosagán in the guise of a boy of seven years
Ingot of gold in salmon. Three parts

PART VI
D1  THE FULL OF THE ORATORY OF RYE-GRAIN

Ruadsech. A gift of cows. A cow stolen
The robber dies
Cow yields enough milk for 12 men
The robber’s wife and child
Ruadsech. Gift and miracle of the rye-grain

PART VII
C1  THE PROPHECY

The sons of Aodh Sláine plot Moling’s death
A miracle. The lordship of Leinster
The delimitation between Leinster and the Uí Neill
The Leinster Bóraimhe
The prophecy: Remission of the Bóraimhe through a cleric
A respite of the Bóraimhe until Luan (Monday)
A respite of the Bóraimhe until Lá an Luain (Doomsday)
Finachta, grand-son of Aodh Sláine, censured

PART VIII
B1  MOLING’S LIFE IS ENDANGERED. DIVINE INTERVENTION

His enemy, Alusán, pursues Moling to kill him
Miracle of water from rock. Pater Noster
Death of Alusán and the host of Tara
A Blessing: Barrow waters, mill-race, pilgrims. Miracles
Death of Moling’s friend, Suibhne Geilt, and of his three pets

PART IX 
Al  MOLING’S DEATH. CHOIRING OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF HEAVEN 

Moling engenders Christian life. An Angel
Moling’s God-given talents at his conception
Moling nobly enters upon his heavenly inheritance

EPILOGUE
LOCAL HISTORY

824-5: The Danish Invasion
951: The second Danish Invasion
1138: Tigh Moling destroyed by fire. Augustinians 1150
1170: The Norman Invasion
c.1300: Cistercians. 1301: An allotment of land to the Church of Tigh Moling
1323: An Teampall Mór and Moling’s relics
deliberately destroyed by fire
1347: Tigh Moling re-built
1417: Death of Art Mac Murchadha Caomhánach
Eibhlin a Rúin
The Reign of Henry VIII
The Reign of Elizabeth I
The Cromwellian War
Cathaoir na gCapall’s Den (1735)
They rose in dark and evil days to free their native land

THE PILGRIMAGE TO THE SHRINE OF ST MOLING

Tigh Moling, a place of pilgrimage
The traditional form of the Pilgrimage
The wading of the water during the Black Death in 1348
The river Rhone is consecrated as a cemetery
The Post-Reformation pilgrimage
The Tiopra or Moling’s Well
The High Cross and St James’ Oratory Moling’s Tomb
The Sanctuary of An Teampall Mór
Pilgrims, bearers of an heroic tradition
The Pattern of St Moling at Mullinakill, Ossory
Uaimh Brénainn, Ballymacelligott, Co Kerry
Moling’s Holy Well, Brosna, Co Kerry

TEXT OF GEINEMAIN MOLLING OCUS A BHETAE (GMB)
The plan of GMB
Gaelic text of GMB with English version

FOUR GREAT LYRICS 

Glór na Gairbe, Moling cecinit, with English version 
Cui Servire Regnare Est, Moling cecinit, with English version 
Deus Meus Adiuva Me, with English version 
On the Cutting Down of the Ancient Tree, with English version 

Appendix I: The Leinster Bóraimhe 
Appendix II: Numerological Tables related to Parts I-IX 

Biblical abbreviations 
Biblical references in Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae 

Bibliographical abbreviations 
Select Bibliography 

Index of names and places  

PREFACE
  
BY
  
BISHOP LAURENCE RYAN

St Mullins is a small scenic village situated on the east side of the River Barrow in south Carlow. Although it is not one of the widely known tourist centres in Ireland it attracts a growing number of visitors who are drawn there by its scenery and by the witness to Christian history which it enshrines. An increasing interest is being shown in it by historians and archaeologists. The local authority has plans to develop it as an attractive tourist centre. It is my own native parish. This gives me a special interest in this book by Máire B. de Paor and a particular joy in introducing it.

In pre-Christian and early Christian times the place was known as Ros Broic (the Wood of the Badger). In mediaeval and post-mediaeval times it was known by various forms of Tigh Moling (the House of Moling). The anglicised form was Simylin and in modern times is St Mullins. The Irish form today is again Tigh Moling or Teach Moling. Both the Irish and the English versions derive from the name Moling, the seventh century monk who established a monastery there.

Some factual information about Moling himself can be drawn from extant sources. He was born in 614 in Sliabh Luachra in Kerry and was named Taircell. He came to Ros Broic and established a monastery. During his time there he exercised some responsibility in the church of Glendalough and later in the church of Ferns, in which he was said to be archbishop. The digging of a mill-race, which can still be traced, has been attributed to him as his own work. Some sources credit him also with having succeeded in getting the Bóraimhe tribute – an annual tax of cattle which the men of Leinster had to pay to the King of Tara — abolished. He died in 696.

Moling’s reputation for sanctity spread and a cult to him developed. In due course Lives of Moling were produced. One of these was Leabhar Tighe Molling, an early mediaeval manuscript which is now lost but which was transcribed in 1628 by Brother Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, one of the compilers of the Annals of the Four Masters. This transcription, with the title Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae, survives. It is the subject of the present study by Máire B. de Paor.

This Life of Moling is hagiography. It is not biography or a strict historical record. It must therefore be interpreted in accordance with the purpose, genre and structure of mediaeval hagiography and not in terms of modern biography. Máire B. de Paor’s scholarly analysis of the text draws out a wealth of knowledge which would be missed by anyone who would read the work as if it were modern biography or who would dismiss it on the ground that it contains little or no historical data.

The analysis of patterns, structures and symbolisms will make this study of special interest to students of mediaeval Irish literature. The same characteristics, together with the rich Christian content, open up avenues of research for students of mediaeval Irish spirituality and theology. In this connection we are presented with a rich fabric woven from a wide spread of explicit and coded biblical images and allusions. The doctrine of the Trinity permeates the Life and the person of Jesus Christ is central to it. We encounter the prominence given to some key elements of Christian spirituality: prayer and penance; sin, repentance and forgiveness. The significance of the extensive use of miracle stories and prophesies in the Life and the prominent role attributed to angels must be of special interest to researchers in the area of Irish spirituality. Coming through all of this is the spirituality of Moling himself.

The two principal patron saints of Ireland also figure in the life of Moling. Maine B. de Paor has already published a similar work on the writings of St. Patrick. She is able to establish linkages between Geinemain Moiling ocus a Bhetae and the writings of Patrick. Moling is presented as having a special devotion to St Brigid, which is an indication of the widespread devotion to Brigid in mediaeval Ireland.

This work has a special significance for us as we enter the third millennium of the Christian era. The Jubilee Year which has just ended stirred up interest in our Christian past, especially in our Irish saints, sacred places and pilgrimage. This study will deepen our interest in Moling himself and especially in his spirituality. It throws light on the influence which he exercised and on the cult which grew up to him. A feature of Irish Christian spirituality which experienced a measure of renewal during the Jubilee Year was pilgrimage. St Mullins was a place of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages. It is still a place of pilgrimage though in a less penitential form. This scholarly work by Máire B. de Paor throws light on the meaning and context of that pilgrimage. It shows too why St Mullins should be preserved and promoted as a place of pilgrimage in the third millennium.

+ Laurence Ryan, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin
Feast of St Moling, 17 June 2001


 

INTRODUCTION

In doss óir ós crichaib. In grian an uas tuathaib
Congreit ríg, bailc bráthair. Cain mil Moling Luacbair (1).

The bush of gold over borders! The splendid sun over territories!
White champion of the king, strong brother. Fair soldier, Moling of Luachair
.

‘The ruins of the ancient monastic establishment at St. Mullins are beautifully situated on the eastern bank of the river Barrow, and stand on a site of great historic interest, which is associated in the ancient annals of our country with events in the lives of two great men who have so deeply impressed their personalities on the land we live in, that after the lapse of centuries their names are still as familiar to us as household words. One of these was Fionn Mac Cumhaill, the commander of the militia in Ireland known as the Fenians; the other was the great ecclesiastic, who was at once a prince, a patriot, an artist and a poet, St Moling’ (1).

The above quotation is from a paper read by Very Rev Canon ffrench MRIA, on the occasion of a visit of the Royal Society of Antiquaries to Tigh Moling in south Co Carlow in 1892, when he related a Fenian tale from the Book of Leinster in which the coming of Moling and the future glory of Tigh Moling was, allegedly, foretold (2).

A little over a hundred years later, on 17 June 1996, the people of the diocese Kildare and Leighlin assembled there once more with our bishop, Dr Laurance Ryan, to inaugurate the thirteenth centennial celebrations of the death of one of the principal patrons of our diocese, St Moling Luachra. It was a memorable occasion in preparation for the Millennium.

These celebrations have generated a new interest in Moling far and near, and this book is a modest response to requests from many quarters for a modern translation together with an analysis, in Gaelic and English, of Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae, the medieval Gaelic Life of the saint, to mark the Jubilee Year 2000.

This new-found interest in one of the greatest of our Irish saints is not surprising in view of the renewed interest in Gaelic Christianity in recent times. Indeed the memory of this outstanding monastic founder, poet, and scripture scholar who won back the sovereignty of Leinster for his downtrodden people by peaceful means, is honoured and held in high esteem in the departments of Celtic studies and Gaelic hagiography, in particular, in great universities throughout the world. Devotion to him has been vibrant through the ages, not only in Leinster where his paternal roots reach back into pre-Christian times, but also in the Brosna district of Sliabh Luachra in north-east Co Kerry where he was born. His maternal ancestors were the Cineál Séadna and here at Uaimh Brénainn in the parish of Ballymacelligott about six miles east of Tralee, he was reared and received his early Christian formation.

Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae: The Birth and Life of Moling
In the opening chapter of Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae (The Birth and Life of Moling) — the Middle-Irish vernacular Life of Moling with which we are mainly concerned in this book — Moling, son of Faelán Fiona, is presented as a descendant of Findlug, the eponymous father of the Uí Dheagha who in turn is descended from Cathaoir Mór, one of the ancestors of the Leinster people.

In the last chapter we are given a thumb-nail sketch of our illustrious Leinster saint:

He was a poet, a prophet, a knower, a teacher.
He was a sage, a psalmist priest,
a bishop, a soulfriend, a noble (A1  XXXIV:136-138)

Nobly and honourably he went unto the angelic resting-place
with the choiring of the household of heaven
and with the prayer of the household of earth,
after fasting, and almsgiving, and prayer,
and fulfilment of every good thing,
in the eighty-second year of his age (Al  XXXIV:139-144)

Towards the centre of this Life he is presented as the prophesied founder of a monastic settlement at Rinn Ros Broic on the brink of the Barrow (C  XIV:21). Here he sought and encountered Christ, and served him with faith and compassion in his people. The Latin Life adds that:

the holy priest Moling migrated most happily to Christ
on 17 June AD 696.
His sanctified body, surrounded by a multitude of saints,
was laid in the earth, within his own monastery,
that is to say, Tigh Moling … (3)

Though medieval hagiographers are, in the main, more concerned with expressing the subjective significance of events through myth and symbol, than with objective analysis of historical data (4) it is, nevertheless, virtually certain that the monastic archivist recorded the date and circumstances of the death of their religious founder, and that the saint’s Gaelic and Latin hagiographers had access to this material and to an oral tradition. But the Gaelic Life of Moling also provides cryptic internal evidence, to which we will return in chapters one and nine, that this great saint did die at Tigh Moling on 17 June, AD 696, in the eighty-second year of his age. The cult of Moling, so greatly revered during his lifetime for his sanctity and his power of working miracles, probably dates from that period.

SOURCES FOR THE LIFE OF MOLING LUACHRA

The Middle-Irish manuscript Life, Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae, preserved in the Royal Library, Brussels, is a transcript made in 1628 from the early medieval manuscript, Leabhar Tighe Molling — now reputedly lost — by Brother Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, one of the compilers of the Annals of the Four Masters. He assures us that he obeyed the express orders of his Franciscan superiors ‘to follow the track of the old books, till the time of their revision … because it is only a collection of things which is to be made at present’ (5). ‘We may be thankful to O’Clery’s superiors who checked his desire to improve upon his originals’, remarks Charles Plummer, ‘and perhaps we may also be thankful that “the time for their revision” never came’, he continues, ‘Had it been taken in hand, it is possible that O’Clery’s careful transcripts might have disappeared in the process’ (6). The authenticity of this transcript, thus implicitly vouched for by 0 Cleirigh himself, is some small consolation for the loss of that priceless Leinster manuscript, Leabhar Tighe Molling. We are profoundly indebted to the indefatigable efforts of Dr Whitley Stokes for editing, and translating Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae into English under the title of The Birth and Life of St Moling, a hundred copies of which he had printed privately in London in 1907.

The Latin Life from the Codex Ardmachanus,’ preserved in Marsh’s Library, Dublin, was edited by Charles Plummer in 1910. The mediaeval writer, in addition to themes found in Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae, though dramatised somewhat to suit his purpose, recounts a number of miracles and allegories attributed to Moling, as well as some details about monastic life, not found in the Gaelic Life. These two precious documents, together with the fragment edited by W W Heist in 1965, are our only extant, primary sources of information for an appreciation of the life of Moling Luachra.

THE MEDIEVAL STYLE OF WRITING

A judicious use of motifs from ancient Irish and Indo-European literature, and Irish saints’ Lives, St Patrick’s in particular, in addition to liberal borrowings from, and subtle allusions to, the Old and New Testament, the whole skilfully woven into an ‘expulsion and return pattern’ in clear, vigorous and evocative prose, seasoned with dramatic dialogue and a sprinkling of bardic verse, are features of this medieval Life.

The expulsion and return pattern
Medieval literary creation must be judged on the basis of contemporary techniques, not in function of a modern worldview. The first of such medieval techniques under consideration here is a pattern of expulsion and return in the lives of famous heroes of tradition. It is an international motif which was initially established by J. G. von Hahn in the 1870s, and subsequently developed by the psychoanalyst Otto Rank, de Vries, the brothers Rees and others, to include Moses, Elijah, Joseph, and Jesus Christ (8). This close relationship between the biblical hero and the saintly Christian one is pertinently illustrated in Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae in which more or less equivalent motifs are organised into an essentially analogous pattern of ‘expulsion and return’, due allowance being made for Moling’s being a monastic hero rather than a kingly or a martial one like, for example, Niall Naoi nGiallach, or Cú Chulainn (9). The close parallels, apart from some differences in order and detail, between Moling’s life and that of the supreme hero, Jesus Christ, however, are of paramount importance to the hagiographer. Thus:

1. Moling’s parentage and genealogy are significant;
2. The circumstances of his conception are unusual;
3. He is conceived in one place and born in another;
4. His life is threatened;
5. He is reared by a foster-father and mother;
6. He is tested and given a new name;
7. His advent and future greatness have been foretold;
8. He returns to his own people and becomes a monastic founder;
9. His life is endangered in the service of his people;
10. He dies a saintly death but his fame lives on among his people.

Secondly, Ludwig Bieler claimed that the ideal form of presentation of ancient texts such as Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae would be a division per cola et commata, ‘by clauses and phrases’ (10). Consequently, an attempt has been made to present this text in that manner.

Thirdly, it is a fundamental critical principle that the content of a literary document cannot be adequately understood and evaluated without understanding its literary genre, structure and context. That principle is now as well established for religious and biblical books as it is for secular literature. And so it holds for the understanding and evaluation of Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae. It was therefore refreshing to discover that this distinguished piece of hagiography, taken as a whole, is an impressive, well-woven, symmetrical composition in which parallel, concentric, and chiastic literary patterns, and an elaborate numerological technique and symbolism, can be traced.

The gematria or hidden meaning behind these numbers seems to confirm the correctness of the concentric and chiastic patterns as well as making linkages between the nine parts, into which this Life is putatively divided, more obvious.

Parallel patterns
A parallel pattern, which is the smallest unit of such literary patterns, is a balanced construction of a verse or sentence, where one part repeats the form or meaning of the other. It is peculiar to the biblical Psalms. There are three main types of parallelism, the synonymous, the antithetic and the synthetic or progressive. ‘Parallelism’, observes Pius Drijvers in his book, The Psalms, their Structure and Meaning, ‘is the thought-rhyme of the verse conveyed by the rhythm of poetical inspiration’ (11). A clear example of this antiphonal statement and restatement is in Luke 21:23-24, which is as follows:

A     Woe to those who are pregnant
A1   and to those who are nursing infants in those days!

B     For there will be great distress on the earth
B1   and wrath against this people;

C     they will fall by the edge of the sword
C1   and be taken away as captives among all nations.

Concentric structure
Concentric structure, according to Luis Schokel, ‘consists in disposing the elements in the pattern A B C N C1 B1 A1 with thematic and verbal correspondences, the central element – N – being stressed (12).

Chiastic structure
A chiastic pattern: A B C C1 B1 Al, follows the same basic rules but has no central element. The word chiasmus properly refers to two lines where the themes are reversed in the second, such as Mark 2:27:

            A                              B
The sabbath was made for man,
         B                      A 
not man  for  the  sabbath.

If one were to draw a line connecting the As and Bs the lines would form an X which is the Greek letter Chi, hence chiasmus.

An example of a chiastic pattern from the Old Testament is Amos 2:14-16:

Flight shall perish from the swift
b      and the strong shall not retain their strength
c            nor shall the mighty save their lives
d                   those who handle the bow shall not stand
d1                 and those who are swift of foot shall not save themselves
c1          nor shall those who ride horses save their lives
b1   and those who are stout of heart among the mighty
a l shall flee away naked that day, says the Lord.

Thematic and verbal correspondences are italicised. The linkages are aal: Flight and shall flee; bbl: the strong and those who are stout of heart; their strength and the mighty; cc1: save their lives and save their lives; ddl: those who handle the bow shall not stand and and those who are swift of foot shall not save themselves (13).

The outline structure of Geinemain Moiling ocus a Bhetae is concentric in form while a number of its component parts exhibit both concentric and chiastic patterns.

In A Virgin Called Woman (14) M. Philip Scott, OCist, demonstrates the overall concentric structure of St Mark’s Gospel thus:

(1:2)    A An angel witnesses to his coming
(1:11)  B   You are my Son
(2:7)    C      Who can forgive sins but God alone? (ei me eis ho Theos)
(3:29)  D         The guilt of the scribes
(3:33)  E             Who is my mother …?
(3:35)  F                  The primacy of doing God’s will
(4:40)  G                      Who is this that the winds … obey him?
(6:3)    H                          Jesus is called the Son of Mary
(8:27)  L                              Who do you say that I am?
(8:31)  M                                 Prophesy of rejection, passion, resurrection
(9:7)    N                                    This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him
(9:30)  M1                               Prophesy of betrayal, passion, resurrection
(10:18) L1                           Why call me good? No one is good but God alone.(ei me eis ho Theos)
(10:47) H1                       Jesus is called Son of David
(11:28) G1                 By what authority do you do these things?
(12:30) F1               The primacy of God’s commandment of love
(12:37) E l           How is Christ David’s Son?
(12:40) D1       A judgement on the scribes
(14:61) C1    Are you the Christ the Son of the Blessed God?
(15:39) B1   Truly, this man was the Son of God
(16:6)   Al An angel witnesses to his going

Here Mark presents us with complementary stories which he has arranged antiphonally with thematic and verbal correspondences (italicised). When reading this concentric pattern, the writer expects us to begin with what we term ‘antiphon’ A from the first story and then pair it off with ‘antiphon’ A1 from the last story; similarly, antiphon B is followed by antiphon B1 and so on until the crux or central element is reached at N which has no corresponding antiphon. It is noteworthy that the biblical crux is at the centre as in classical drama and in some Gaelic poems, and not at the end, as in modern literature. When the pairs of related antiphons are placed side by side the thematic and verbal correspondences becomes clearer. Thus:

(1:2)     A       An angel witnesses to his coming
(16:6)   A1     An angel witnesses to his going.

(1:11)   B       You are my Son
(15:39) B1     Truly, this man was the Son of God.

(2:7)     C       Who can forgive sins but God alone? (ei me eis ho Theos)
(14:61) C1     Are you the Christ the Son of the Blessed God?

(3:29)   D       The guilt of the scribes
(12:40) D1      A judgement on the scribes

(3:33)   E        Who is my mother…?
(12:37) E l       How is Christ David’s Son?

(3:35)   F         The primacy of doing God’s will
(12:30) F1       The primacy of God’s commandment of love

(4:40)   G        Who is this that the winds … obey him?
(11:28) G1       By what authority do you do these things?

(6:3)     H        Jesus is called the Son of Mary
(10:47) H1      Jesus is called Son of David

(8:27)   L        Who do you say that I am?
(10:18) Ll       Why call me good? No one is good but God alone. ei me eis ho Theos

(8:31)   M       Prophesy of rejection, passion, resurrection
(9:30)   M1     Prophesy of betrayal, passion, resurrection

(9:7)     N       This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him

The central element is usually reinforced by relating it specifically to the flanks of the structure, A and Al. The theophony at the centre of Mark’s gospel, for example, is heralded by angelophanies at the flanks:

(1:2) A    An angel witnesses to his coming
(9:7) N        This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him
(16:6 Al   An angel witnesses to his going.

There is also a ‘point of turning’ just past the centre of the structure: the phrase, et statim, ‘and suddenly’ (Mk 9:8) in this instance. The second half of the pattern is not redundant. Rather the ‘point of turning’ introduces some crucial new element that resolves or completes the first half, thus in Mark:

Et statim // circumspicientes neminem amplius viderunt nisi Iesum tantum secum (v 8)
And suddenly // when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus

The crucial new element here is the affirmation of the divinity of Jesus the Son of Man, his prediction of his betrayal, passion and resurrection and his call for generous service with the motivation emphatically expressed (Mk 9:8-9, 30-37; 10:43-44). ‘The transfiguration’, affirms John L. McKenzie, SJ, one of the great twentieth-century biblical scholars:

is a statement that the Son of Man even in his earthly existence is the glorious Son of Man who is recognised in his glory after his passion and resurrection. Following upon the prediction of the passion (Mk 8:31), it is a revelation of the truth that glory follows the passion. The fullness of the meaning of the attestation that Jesus is the Son of God sent by His Father is seen in the climactic episodes of his earthly life. The tremendous and mysterious content of this revelation is so overpowering that it can be described only in the symbolism of ecstasy and vision. The theology of the transfiguration is entirely one with the theology of Phil 2:6-11, where Paul probes the significance of Jesus’ empting of himself, the meaning of God’s taking to himself the human condition (15).

When the inversion principle is used with conscious precision, as in the case of the Life of Moling, most, if not all, of these elements appear and are practical rules of thumb for a proper interpretation of this precious, traditional piece of medieval hagiography (16).

Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae, taken in its totality, may be considered as one grand concentric composition where the author balances various themes artistically around the central building of the oratory in the name of the Triune God and Moling’s encounter with Christ in true concentric, biblical style:

I         A   Moling’s conception and birth; a sevice of angels cf Ps 21:2,10-12
II        B      His mother, Eamhnaid, seeks to kill the infant Moling
III       C         The prophesied one, Moling ng Luachra cf Jer 1:4-10
IV       D            Moling Luachra seeks a site for an abbey-oratory
V        E                The oratory: Encounter with Christ
VI       D1         The full of the oratory of rye-grain
VII     C1       The prophesy: the remission of the tribute through a cleric
VIII    B1    Alusán, at the head of the host of Tara, seeks to kill Moling
IX      A l  Moling’s death; choiring of angels (cf Ps 21:20-32)

The linkages between A and A1 are, his conception and birth, and his death; the service of angels at his birth and the choiring of angels at his death. The unusual, sad, and lonely circumstances of his conception and birth in A are in stark contrast with his saintly, peaceful death in the midst of his loving, monastic, Christian community in Al. In B and B1 his life is endangered and saved by divine intervention. In C the prophesied one is called to serve in his capacity as a monastic founder and miracle-worker in Leinster. His prophetic call to serve his people is fulfilled in part in C, where he is instrumental in establishing the sovereignty of Leinster. His search for a site for an abbey-oratory in D is balanced by the impossible demand of the full of that oratory of rye-grain by Ruadsech, the wife of the builder, Gobán Saor, as payment for its construction. Finally, the climax in E, which is devoted to the foundation of Tigh Moling, underscores the motivation behind all Moling’s endeavours, the constant and unremitting effort to discern the will of his Father in his regard and thus find Christ. Moreover, the theophony at the centre, as in Mark’s gospel, is heralded by similar manifestations of angels at the flanks:

I       A         Moling’s conception and birth; a sevice ofangels (cf Ps 22:2,10-12)
V      E         The oratory built in the name of the Trinity: Moling’s encounter with Christ
IX     A1      Moling’s death; choiring of angels (cf Ps 22:20-32)

Each of the putative nine component parts that make up Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae have, moreover, their own internal concentric and chiastic patterns. These nine elements will be addressed in greater detail in due course. The consistent use of these concentric and chiastic patterns throughout his work is one indication of the tight control which the medieval hagiographer keeps on his composition.

These literary patterns are common to both classical and biblical literature. It was interesting to discover examples of them – which I plan to demonstrate in another publication – in some of the Aryan Rig Vedas and Upanishads, dating from perhaps 1500 BC, the Bhagavad Gita, as well as in early and mediaeval Gaelic poetry. The sacred songs of the poet, contemplative, and catechist, Tadhg Gaelach Ó Súilleabháin (1715-1795), demonstrate clearly that these literary patterns were understood and used skillfully as long as the Gaelic literary tradition survived (17). By the mid nineteenth century their use had all but disappeared except for the attenuated traces of those patterns found in Aithrí an Reachtúraigh (1832) and Caoineadh ar Thomás Ó Dálaigh from Connacht, and in two poems by Art Mac Bionaid (+1879) from south Armagh, A Ghleann na Suáilce (1852), and ‘gCluin sibh raise, a chlann na nGael? (1853) (18).

Numerological technique.- Perfect symmetry and the divine proportion
The concentric and chiastic patterns exhibit balance not only in the statement and restatement of ideas, but in the numbers of lines, words and letters. These are arranged by perfect symmetry and by extreme and mean ratio (also known as the divine proportion or golden section). In perfect symmetry there are exactly as many lines or words or letters in one part of a unit as in the other. In the case of the golden section the number in the minor part (m) relates to the number in the major part (M) as the number in the major part relates to the number in the whole (m+M): m/M = M/(m+M). Perfect symmetry and the golden section are two aspects of this ‘science’ of numerology. An example from Moling’s Gaelic Life will serve as an illustration. In the opening account of Moling’s noble ancestry and family inheritance, A I a, there are 30 lines. The simplest method of calculating the minor part is to multiply 30 by 0.38197: (30 x 0.38197=11); then subtract the result, 11, from 30; this yields 19 which corresponds to the major part; thus the mean and extreme ratios of 30 are 11 and 19. Tables of extreme and mean ratio used in this work are presented in Appendix II (19) to facilitate readers who may wish to examine its structure in some detail.

It is somewhat difficult for modern readers to appreciate how completely the ‘science’ of numerology permeated the lives of the people of the Middle Ages when Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae was written. ‘There was literally no reservoir of knowledge or inspiration on which this period could draw which was not impregnated with number philosophy’, (20) as Vincent Hopper explains in his classic on the subject, Medieval Number Symbolism. Number symbolism was widespread in India, Egypt, the Middle-East, and Eastern Europe in the pre-Christian era and continued to prevail down through the Middle-Ages. Hopper traces these influences from an early sense of mysticism concerning numbers, through the association of numbers with astrology and their rise to religious significance in Babylonia, their inclusion in the Old Testament scriptures, and finally the re-emergence of Pythagoreanism which held numbers themselves to be inherently sacred expressions of fundamental truths. All of these factors were prevalent when the early Christian writers began addressing the science of numerology. Whereupon, ‘Instead of denying or neglecting what had gone before, the church accepted number theory in all its forms, thus preserving and revitalising them all’ (21).

St Augustine was perhaps the most famous of those writers who embraced, and subsequently Christianised, numerology. ‘When I think about the unchanging truths of numbers’, he wrote, ‘and when I consider the province of numbers – their room or sanctuary, as it were, or whatever suitable name can be found by which we may designate the home or seat of numbers – I am far removed from my body … The same thing happens to me when I think as carefully and intently as I can about wisdom. Besides, I am very much amazed because these two things lie in the most secret and yet most certain truth – even by the testimony of the scriptures, where number and wisdom are placed together’ (22).

Medieval scriptural exegesis, which built on the tradition of Philo and Augustine, makes extensive use of number symbolism. The allegorical tendency produced the custom of considering some given passage in the light of the four intellectual theologies: historical, allegorical, tropological, and anagogical. ‘In accordance with this scheme, Innocent III interprets the historical four rivers of Paradise. By allegory, the rivers of truth are intended, flowing from Christ through the four evangelists, or from Moses through the four major prophets. Morally the rivers represent the four cardinal virtues. The anagogical interpretation points to the four blessings which irrigate Paradise: clarity, impassivity, knowledge, delectation’ (23).

In producing mathematical compositions of literary texts, then, it is said that writers imitate in their compositions what they believe God to have done in the creation of the world. In Wisdom 11:21, for example, Solomon, addressing the Creator, says: ‘but you have disposed all things by measure and number and weight’. And in the New Testament Jesus states in Matthew 10:30: ‘but even the hairs of your head are all numbered’. This belief that literary creation was a reflection of God’s creative action was common to both biblical and classical writers. There is explicit discussion in the Talmud of the counting of verses, words, and letters of the text of the Hebrew Bible; Plato, in a famous dialogue, makes Timaeus discuss in minute particulars the mathematical creation of the world (24).

Gematria
The ‘science’ known as gematria which consisted in assigning numerical values to the letters of the alphabet and thereby deriving from names, words, and whole passages of scripture new meanings and relationships was a very important element in the numerological framework. A writer might place an important word or several important words at intervals in a text. This literary feature may be reckoned in three ways: ‘first, counting from the first occurrence of the word to the second occurence inclusively; second, counting between the occurrences of the word exclusively; third, including the first occurrence and excluding the second or excluding the first and including the second’ (25).

The account of the perfection of the Sabbath-rest after the Creation in Genesis (2:1-4), for example, contains forty-six Hebrew words. The numerical value of the Greek letters in the name Adam is 1+4+1+40=46. Jesus is the second Adam (cf 1Cor 15:45-49). As man’s work should reflect God’s work it took forty-six years to build the Temple in Jerusalem (Jn 2:20). So in the Greek text of John 1:3, the account of Creation by Christ, there are forty-six letters. There are also forty-six letters in the Latin text of that same passage (26).

The numbers from one to twelve had, moreover, their own specific symbolism. One is specifically God. The number three in particular was of paramount significance: ‘The number three takes the geometric form of the triangle. The equilateral triangle is the most perfect of geometric forms, having three sides of equal lengths, and thus three angles, each of 60 degrees. The equilateral triangle has therefore three equal parts, and is the perfect figure to represent the Trinity, which is also made up of three equal parts – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – which together make up the unity of one Triune God.

The equilateral triangle is a figure that may not be bent or pushed out of shape, as a square may become a rhombus or parallelogram with equal sides. And to further set out the triangle, it may be inscribed in a circle. Each point of the triangle is now equi-distant from the centre of the circle. Thus a more refined figure to describe the Triune God whose power encompasses the whole, round Universe’ (27). The mystery of the Triune God is the leitmotif that pervades Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae from beginning to end.

The number two represents the dual nature of Christ within the Trinity, while four represents the nature of man. From the triune principle of God and the quadruple principle of man are produced the universal symbols, seven and twelve. The addition of three and four, spiritual and temporal, produces seven, which is therefore the first number which implies totality. The addition of the three theological virtues, Faith, Hope Charity, to the four cardinal virtues produced one of the best-known heptads of Catholicism. Eight is the number of immortality, the number of the resurrection and circumcision and the number of those who did not perish in the flood. It is both the eighth and the first as the day of the resurrection, the beginning of Christian history. Five is less than perfect, therefore the Old Law, which is less than perfect, is fittingly contained in the Pentateuch.

Similarly, the perfection of six is limited to earthly perfection. Nine is the angelic number, ten the image of unity and completeness, eleven the image of sin and destruction. Twelve is merely another form of seven since both are composed of three and four and both image forth the universe in seven planets, or seven days in the week, twelve hours in the day. There are seven sacraments, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven petitions in the Lord’s Prayer … Christ chose twelve disciples, according to Augustine, to indicate himself as the spiritual day and to make known his Trinity through the four parts of the world. In medieval cathedral sculptures, and in art, as in Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, the disciples are generally arranged in four groups of three. And St Augustine is careful to remind us in his Civitas Dei XX. 5, that the tribe of Levi made thirteen tribes in actuality, but that they are always spoken of as twelve, thus demonstrating that the idea of the number is more important than actuality.

Numbers beyond twelve were reduced to their smaller units or looked at in terms of their component parts. By adding the individual numerals of such a number, for instance, one could reduce it to its symbolic essence. By the same token, the failure of a number to reach a recognised limit implies a defect or deficiency. 38, for example, fails to reach the limit of 40, whereas 39 succeeds by adding unity. Therefore the man whom Christ healed was said to be 38 years in infirmity (Jn 5:5; Augustine On Jn XVII, 4) (28).

Triangular and Solid numbers
Triangular numbers are the successive sums of the series of natural numbers. A solid, or three-dimensioned number, is the sum of a series of triangular numbers. Thus:

Natural       1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9                   10 …
Triangular   1  3  6 10 15 21 28 36 45             55 …
Solid          1  4 10 20 35 56 84 120 165       220 …

All this understanding of numbers which was transmitted to the Middle Ages by Boethius (29), flows like a silver gurgling stream throughout Geinemain Molling ocus a Bhetae.

The number 153
The number 153 is a number of great significance both mathematically and symbolically and figures prominently in this impressive piece of medieval hagiography. Firstly, it is a triangular number, its units forming an equilateral triangle with each side comprising 17. Such a number can be expressed as half the product of n and the next greatest integer (17×18)/2; thus where n is 17, the result is 153. Indeed the more significant biblical figures, from the number of the Trinity to the number of the Beast (666) are triangular.

In Jn 21:3-11 the risen Christ commands his disciples to cast their net on the right side of the boat. This time it is filled with a 153 fish so large that Simon Peter can hardly haul it ashore. ‘The exegetical tradition … identifies 153 as a sign and symbol of the body of the elect. That such an interpretation should have been applied to the original Johannine passage is not surprising, even without knowledge of the mathematical background: for what else, after all, must a number of fish represent when they are drawn into a boat that is, as here, only too clearly navicula Petri, the ship of the church? Even so, however, there is a broad medieval tradition, apparently originating in large part in Augustine, that derives the mystic significance of the number 153 not just from its narrative context in scripture but from the mathematical properties, in particular its relation to its ‘triangular root’, 17 … One hundred and fifty three in one strand of the Augustinian tradition, is reduced to 17, which in turn is composed of its addends 10 and 7. Ten, the number of the commandments given on Sinai, represents the Law, and 7, the number of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, evokes Grace. Their sum and the triangular number it generates, encapsulate both principles … as the conditions of redemption, both of them necessary but neither alone sufficient’ (30).

Life, death and resurrection
The medieval author divides his Life of Moling, whose baptismal name was Taircell, into thirty-four chapters. The beginning of each chapter is indicated by the use of capital letters for the initial word, e.g. BAI, IS and IN. In this way Moling’s conformity to the thirty-three years of Our Lord’s public life are commemorated in thirty-three chapters while his conformity to Christ’s passion, death and resurrection are celebrated in the thirty-fourth chapter. In Part IX, in which Moling reaches the end of his earthly pilgrimage, the account of his entering the angelic resting place, is recounted in thirty-four words in the original Gaelic.

The eternal Jerusalem
The actual pursuit of Moling by the household cavalry of Tara under their leader, Alusán, their defeat, and Moling’s eventual death are told in Parts VIII-IX, chapter XXXIV, in 144 lines for good measure, which in turn is an indication of the medieval writer’s subtle use of sacred scripture throughout the Life; the 144 lines evoke the 144,000 redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb in Revelation 14:1-5:

Then I looked, and lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb,
and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand
who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.
And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters
and like the sound of loud thunder;
the voice I heard was like the sound of harpers playing on their harps,
and they sing a new song before the throne
and before the four living creatures and before the elders.
No one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand
who had been redeemed from the earth.
It is these who have not defiled themselves with women,
for they are virgins;
it is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes;
these have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb,
and in their mouths no lie was found,
for they are spotless.

And again:

And I heard the number of the sealed,
a hundred and forty-four thousand sealed
out of every tribe of the sons of Israel. (Rev 7:4)

The measurements of the walls of the Eternal Jerusalem are also recalled:

He also measured its walls, a hundred and forty four cubits
by a man’s measure that is an angel’s. (Rev 21:17).

A hundred and forty-four also alludes to the twelve apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel: (a hundred and forty-four equals twelve multiplied by twelve). In response to Peter’s,

Lo we have left everything and followed you.
What then shall we have?
Jesus said to them, Truly, I say to you,
in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne,
you who have followed me
will also sit on twelve thrones
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And every one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother
or children or lands, for my name’s sake,
will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
But many that are first will be last, and the last first (Mt 19:27-30).

The monastic author was influenced, no doubt, by the daily authentic living-out of the monastic liturgy of the Eucharist, the recitation of the Breviary, and by his daily lectio divina, or contemplative study of the sacred scriptures and the Fathers of the Church. In any case, ‘in the Latin West during the early Middle Ages the matrix of literary culture was the Vulgate,’ writes David Howlett. ‘Those who read classical Latin literature had usually read the Bible, the Christian fathers, and the Christian poets before’ (31).

Once those traditionalist medieval writers had mastered the technique of gematria and the art of forming parallel, concentric, and chiastic literary patterns, their use possibly became as easy to them as the intricate steps of the Blackbird would be to a Michael Flately (32) or An Chúilfhionn on the violin to an Eileen O’Grady, or Na Connerys to a great sean-nós singer like Nioclás Tóibín of Rinn Ó gCuanach sna Déise. All they needed was plenty of practice! With a view to involving my readers in this noble and perceptive Gaelic tradition, I have deliberately omitted mentioning the linkages between concentric and chiastic patterns from chapter six onwards, confident that, by then, a glance at the italicised original text or the translation of Geinemain Moping ocus a Bhetae will be more than sufficient for you to establish them for yourselves!

MOLING’S IRELAND

In considering the socio-historical context of this Gaelic Life of Moling, it could be argued that Irish history began in the life-span of Moling Luachra since it is during the seventh century that a sufficient amount of information became available to allow the historian to feel that he is on firm ground. Though we know much about the overall political situation in the north, the midlands and Leinster in that period, less is known about Connacht and Munster. All of this information comes to us by way of the church – although within this body of material we can learn much about secular society, principally through the law tracts.

Politically Ireland was made up of a multiplicity of small kingdoms ruled by a king. Some kingdoms were grouped in federations owing allegiance to an over-king. The most powerful king of all was the king of a province such as Ulster or Leinster. The situation was fluid with constant realignments. The smallest kingdoms or tuatha have been referred to as tribal kingdoms. It is clear that many were very ancient and some described as Dál+X (the division of X) would seem to have been the residual fragments of what had once been powerful groups that had exercised
power over wide areas. During the seventh and first quarter of the eighth century we witness the suppression of many of these small groups at the expense of new dynasties who are referred to as Uí X or Y (the descendants of X and Y). By the 730s over most parts of Ireland this new system had imposed itself forming a pattern that was to remain until the twelfth century.

In the northern part of Ireland the Uí Neill, descendants of Niall Naoi nGiallach, had become dominant. They were known as the Cenél Conaill, (the kindred of Conall) giving their name to Tír Chonaill, Donegal; the Cenél nEógain, giving their name eventually to Tir Eóghain, Tyrone. Around the Sperrin mountains were the Airgialla, a federation of peoples that remained independent from about the 640s when they were defeated by the Ulaid, the Ulstermen, whose power was now confined to Antrim and Down, until 827 when they in turn were defeated by the Uí Neill whose power now stretched across the north from the west to the banks of the Bann and Lough Neagh.

In the midlands the southern Uí Néill were becoming dominant between the Shannon and the coast of Meath. Their main centres were soon to become established at Lagore near Dunsaughlin in Co Meath, at Knowth on the great Neolithic burial mound on the bend of the Boyne and at a crannóg in the south-west corner of Lough Ennell south of Mullingar.

In Connacht the Uí Briúin were emerging as the most powerful dynasty, replacing such powerful groups as the Ui Fiachrach and the Uí Máine — and particularly in central Connacht, in Roscommon, the Ciarraige.

In Munster the various branches of the Eóganachta provided kings of Cashel but it was eventually the Eóghanachta based at Cashel that came to monopolise the kingship of Munster.

In the closing years of the sixth century the Uí Chennselaigh of south Leinster under their king Brandub ruled Leinster and even extended Leinster power deep into the midlands. Following his death in 605 their power in the midlands collapsed to be filled by the rising Uí Néill and the borders of Leinster shrank to approximately their present boundaries. Within Leinster itself the Uí Dúnlainge in the north of the province replaced the Uí Chennselaigh who were unable to regain their former glory until the eleventh century. These two dynasties rose to power by defeating earlier groups such as the Dal Cormaic, the Uí Failge, the Ui Bairrche and a myriad of other lesser groups. Dimly in the seventh-century sources we can see this more ancient political landscape but it is largely elusive. It was into this earlier political world that Christianity was first introduced. Indeed many of the saints of Leinster owe their tribal affiliations to these ancient peoples.

During the seventh century the church strove to accomodate itself to this newly emerging political situation. Ancient missionary churches situated among tribal peoples found it impossible to maintain their independence in face of the churches being patronised by the new dynasties. New alignments were necessary. This is most clearly to be seen in the documents produced by the cult of Patrick. Armagh was now emerging as the chief church in the country. Many weak churches looked to her for protection and many stories were created linking early independent missionaries and their churches with Patrick. In the same way the ancestors of the newly emerging dynasties were said, anachronistically, to have met Patrick. Much of our hagiography must be read against this background.

The distinction that we make today between dioceses and monasteries was not clear cut. A church settlement might contain a bishop with his secular clergy, monks and nuns, and lay people as at Kildare and Armagh. Iona and Clonmacnoise were more clearly monastic in origin and tradition. Of major concern to the church was the Christianisation of society, in particular the Christianisation of the kingship – and this is seen in the hagiography of the period. This was an attempt to create a specifically Christian form of government. Here the very exceptional kingship at Tara, the high-kingship, was seen by the clergy as a concept around which they could foster the idea of a central monarchy. The great abbot of Iona, Adamnán, promulgated his famous Lex Innocentium (Law of the Innocents), to protect women and children from injury during the constant warefare that was part of political life. This was all part of the same movement to create a civil, humane society led by just kings.

A debate continued throughout the seventh century over the proper date on which to celebrate Easter and over the question of the proper tonsure. Eventually the Roman method was preferred. This involved embassies to Rome. Principal relics of the church were brought back to Ireland and no doubt much else besides. From southern Gaul came the most recent hymns which provided the basis for a native hymn tradition now found in the hymn-book produced at Bangor, the Antiphonary of Bangor. It is during the seventh century that one may speak of the Golden Age of the Irish church. The Easter controversy and the need to interpret the Bible had stimulated research into mathematics, astronomy, geography, grammar and other subjects, making Ireland an outpost of learning in Europe at the time, drawing foreign students for instruction. Works of art on parchment, in metal and in stone were now appearing. The book of Durrow is perhaps the most important example. All of this shows a rich society capable of pouring patronage into the church. The society was essentially based on wealth in land and animals, particularly cattle, as Moling’s ‘Life’ (A I:1-30), clearly demonstrates. It was a land of wealthy, and not so wealthy farmers. The nobility and strong farmers were the classes that provided the kings and took part in warfare. The less well off were their tenants, serfs, and slaves.

The landscape was heavily forested but there were areas of long-time settlement. Here the countryside was open and dotted with raths and their surrounding fields. Out in the open pastures beyond the dwellings, the cattle and other animals were herded by young boys with their guard dogs to protect the flocks and herds from attack by wolves – so frequently mentioned in hagiography. A man might have more than one wife. A chief wife would be of equal standing with her husband and had an equal say in contracts. If she brought more wealth to the marriage she had the greater say in the marriage. Women had access to law through a male relative and divorce was common. Marriages were frequently temporary among the upper classes as men sought to make and remake political alliances through marriage. But as one moves down in the social scale the position of women and their children grew more precarious. No doubt slave-women must have been dreadfully abused.

The estates of the church mirrored those of secular society. The manaig, originally meaning monks but now church tenants, were the married tenants of the church, such as were to be found elsewhere in Europe. Many of the leading clergy were by now also married and the scene was set during the course of the seventh century for what was to become the familiar view of early Ireland down to the reforms of the twelfth century (33).

This brief examination of the structure and socio-historical context of Geinemain Moiling ocus a Bhetae will, hopefully, help us to come to an appreciation of Moling’s profound focus on the Lord, his heartfelt concern, even to the point of death, for the welfare of his people, and the Christian values enshrined in this impressive piece of medieval Gaelic hagiography.

 


 

NOTES

 

  1. Cf Appendix I for this Fenian story. It tells how, 400 years before St Moling’s time, Breasal Belach, then King of Leinster, persuaded Fionn MacCumhaill to join him at Ross Broic on their way to defeat the forces of Cairbre Lifeachair and had a vision of “a host melodious floating in bands ascending  to heaven and descending” on the same ridge where Moling founded his monastery.
  2. Cf Martyrology of Oengus, translated by Dr. Whitley Stokes.
  3. Plummer, BN, v. I
  4. Fawcett, Thomas, SLR, passim.
  5. Quoted in Plummer, op. cit., 1968 ed., vol. I, xiii.
  6. ibid, vol. I, xiii.
  7. Reeves, PRIA, 1875.
  8. Lord Raglan, ‘The Hero of Tradition’ in Dundes, Alan, TSF 142-157; McCone, Kim, PPCP I x-x, 181-2.
  9. McCone, ibid, 182.
  10. Bieler, Ludwig, LEI, 44.
  11. Drijvers, Pius, ISM, 27.
  12. Schokel, L., ‘Language and Mentality of the Bible Writers’, 87, in UBOT v. 1, 61-69.
  13. Howlett, D. R., CLT, The Rules of Biblical Style, Ch. 1:1-54 is essential reading; cf 5-6 where ten rules of Biblical style are inferred, so that it is deemed unnecessary to repeat them here.
  14. Scott, M. Philip, VW 52-76.
  15. McKenzie, John L, SJ, DB, 897-8.
  16. cf Bailey, K. E., PPTPE, a Literary-Cultural to the Parables of Luke, combined edition, 1983, 50.
  17. Easwaran, Eknath, TU, 10 ff. Mascaró, Juan, BG, cf 1I-13, Rig Veda II 28. 19, which is concentric; Rig Veda VII. 86, and Rig Veda X 129 which are chiastic in structure. de Paor, Máire. B, TG, 55 ff.
  18. AR, de hÍde, Aithrí an Reachtúire, 356-362; 15 verses and l’envoi. Caoineadh ar Thomás Ó Dalaigh 60-67. 7 verses and l’envoi. Each of the two poems is concentric in structure. DDU, Éinrí Ó Muirgheasa, no. 57, 358-362; no. 58, 363366, which are, respectively, concentric and chiastic in form.
  19. Appendix II.
  20. Hopper, Vincent, MNS, 89.
  21. ibid, 93.
  22. Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will, 2.11. 122-123, cf Betty Vanderwielen, MN, 79.
  23. PL 217, 327-30 and again in 605-8, quoted in, Hopper, op. cit., 112-113. Littera gesta docet; quid credas allegoria;/Moralis quid agas; quo tendas anagogia. ‘Léiríonn an litir at tharla uair; A’s an allagóire an creideamh is dual; Múineann an móralta an t-iompar ceart; An t-anagógach ár gcríoch fara Dia na bhfeart.’ (Breandán Ó Doibhlin d’aistrigh).
  24. Howlett, D. R., CLT, 11-13; 29, n. 34 22. Hopper, op. cit., 62.
  25. Howlett, D. R., BLSP 20, 23-32. This technique is indicated thus in this book: +….+.
  26. ibid, 22.
  27. Secor, John, ‘The Imago Trinitatis…’, MN, 95-96.
  28. Hopper, op. cit., 47, 82, 101; 84-85; 82; but cf ibid, 99 ff., re the essential numbers of the Divine Plan.
  29. Stevick, Robert D., ‘The Form of the Phoenix: A Model…’, MN, 40-41; cf n.2; exposition of triangular and solid numbers in the text is on p. 241 ff’; Hopper, op. cit., re solid numbers: ‘cubing either produces solidity or, more often gives height or godliness’, 82; cf also 47, 101.
  30. Wright, Aron E., ‘Gold and Grace in Hartmann’s Gregorius’, MN, 117
  31. Howlett, D. R., CLT 29, n. 34. cf St Thomas Aquinas, Expositio II in Apocalypsim, VII, quoted in Hopper, MNS, 102, re the significance of 144.
  32. Michael Flately’s maternal ancestors were natives of Tigh Moling.
  33. Gratitude to Charles Doherty, Department of History, UCD, for his generous contribution here and for his interest and valuable advice.  

 


 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ABBREVIATIONS

ADI           Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, 2000, Archdioceses and Dioceses of Ireland
AR            de hÍde, Dúbhglas, Amhráin atá Leagtha ar an Reachtúire
AS            Chadwick, Nora, The Age of the Saints in the Early Celtic Church
BG            Mascara, Juan, The Bhagavad Gita
BLSP        Howlett, D.R., The Book of Letters of Saint Patrick the Bishop
BM           Maloney, George A., SJ, The Breath of the Mystic
BN            Plummer, Charles, Bethada Náem nÉrenn, Lives of Irish Saints
CEIS         Hughes, Kathleen, The Church in Early Irish Society
CH            Rees, A & B, Celtic Heritage
CI             Carmichael, Alexander, Celtic Invocations
CKL         Comerford, Rev. M, Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin
CL            Smyth, Alfred P, Celtic Leinster
CLT          Howlett, D. R., The Celtic Latin Tradition and Biblical Style
CM           MacCana, Proinsias, Celtic Mythology
CS            Schillebeeckx, E, OP, Christ the Sacrament of Encounter with God
DB           McKenzie, John L, Dictionary of the Bible
DCC        Harrington, Wilfrid, OP, The Drama of Christ’s Coming
DDU        Ó Muirgheasa, Éinri, Dánta Diadha Uladh
DF           Murphy, Gerard, Duanaire Finn
EIHM      Ó Rahilly, Thomas E, Early Irish History and Mythology
EIL          Murphy, Gerard, Early Irish Lyrics
EIP          Carney, James (ed), Early Irish Poetry
EMMW   Rynne, Colin, The Early Medieval Monastic Watermill in HI.
FL           MacNeill, Máire, The Festival of Lughnasa
GFT         Bruford, Alan, Gaelic Folk-Tales and Mediaeval Romances
GMB       Stokes, Whitley, Geinemain Moiling ocus a Bhetae
HBP        Ferris & O’Donoghue, Revv, The History of Ballymacelligott and its People.
HI           Jenny White Marshall and Grellan D. Rourke, High Island: An Irish Monastery in the Atlantic.
HIF         Ó hÓgáin, Dáithi, The Hero in Irish Folk History
HT          O’Neill, M., & Lawlor, B., Heritage Trail, St Mullins, Co Carlow.
HW        O’Hare, Patricia, Holy Wells and Other Sites of Pilgrimage within a Portion of East Kerry.
IA           Henry, Françoise, Irish Art in the Early Christian Period to A.D. 800
IBP         Bergin, Osborn, Irish Bardic Poetry
IHC        Henry, Françoise, Irish High Crosses
IK          Byrne, Francis John, Irish Kings and High-Kings
IM          Ryan, John, SJ, Irish Monasticism
IS           Maloney, George A., SJ, Inward Stillness
LCC       Ni Bhrollacháin, Muireann, Leabbar Laighean, Leachtai Colm Cille, XIIl
LE          Bieler, Ludwig, Libri Epistolarum, I.
LIS         O’Hanlon, Canon John, Lives of the Irish Saints
LL          Best, O’Brien, O’Sullivan, The Book of’Leinster
MISL     Sharpe, Richard, Medieval Irish Saints Lives
MN       Surles, Robert L, (ed), Medieval Numerology
MNS     Hopper, Vincent Foster, Medieval Number Symbolism
MRH     Gwynn, A, & Hadcock, R. N., Mediaeval Religious Houses
PH         Maloney, George A. SJ, Prayer of the Heart
PP         de Paor, Máire B., Patrick the Pilgrim Apostle of Ireland
PPCP    Mccone, Kim, Pagan Past & Christian Present in early Irish Literature
PPTPE   Bailey, K.E., Poet and Peasant and Through Peasants’ Eyes
PRIA     Reeves, Wm., Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy
PSM      Drijvers, Pius, The Psalms, Their Structure and Meaning
PTBA    Bieler, Ludwig, Patrician Texts in the Book of Armagh
SA         Duffy, Eamon, The Stripping of the Altars
SG        O’Grady, Standish H, Silva Gadelica
SLH      Tierney, J.J, (ed), Scriptores Latinae Hibernicae, Vol. VI
SLR       Fawcett, Thomas, The Symbolic Language of Religion
SM        ffrench, J. F. M., St Mullins, Co Carlow
SMLH   O’Leary, Patrick, St Mullins, A Local History and the Life of St Moling
TBP       Keating, Thomas, OCSO, The Better Part
TDO     The Divine Office, I, II, III
TG        de Paor, Máire B., Tadhg Gaelach Ó Súilleabháin, 1715-1795
TMT     Congar, Ives, OP, The Mystery of the Temple
TSF      Dundes, Alan, The Study of Folklore
TU        Easwaran, Eknath, The Upanishads
UBOT  Schokel, L., Understanding the Bible, The Old Testament
VC       John Paul II, Vita Consacrata
VS II    Plummer, Carolus, Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae, II
VSH     Heist, W W, Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae
VW      Scott, M. Philip, A Virgin called Woman

 

 

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