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Jun 6 – St Jarlath (445-550) patron of Tuam

06 June, 2012

Jarlath is regarded as the founder and patron saint of the Archdiocese of Tuam in Galway, Ireland.

Summary of St Jarlath, bishop: Very little is known of Jarlath. His first foundation was in Clonfush near Tuam. Later he founded a monastery in Tuam. He is said to have taught Brendan of Clonfert and Colman of Cloyne..

jarlath Jarlath is the abbot-bishop associated with the archdiocese of Tuam that includes parts of the counties of Mayo, Galway and Roscommon. Patrick Duffy looks at what is known about him.

From a wealthy family?
Not much is known about the life of Jarlath (Irish Iarfhlaith). However, he is regarded as the founder and patron saint of the archdiocese of Tuam in Galway, Ireland. From the second syllable of his name, fhlaith, meaning “lord”, it could be taken that he came from a wealthy family; the meaning of the first syllable is unknown.

Cloonfush and reputation
Jarlath is said to have studied under Benen (Benignus), a disciple of St Patrick, and under St Enda at Aran Isalnd. The Féilire of Aengus tells us that he was noted for his mortification, fasting, and prayer. He own first monastic foundation was at Cloonfush, some miles east of Tuam. Among his disciples there were Brendan of Clonfert and Colman of Cloyne.

 St Jarlath's window Tuam Cathedral

  St Jarlath’s window, Tuam Cathedral

While Jarlath was travelling in his chariot west from Cloonfush, the wheel of the chariot broke. A prophecy of Saint Brendan of Clonfert had foretold that this place where the wheel of the chariot would break would be the place where he would meet death. So Jarlath decided to found another monastic community here. From this incident, the chariot wheel has become the symbol of the town of Tuam. The diocese was established by the twelfth-century synods of Rathbreasail and Kells, and subsequently became an archdiocese absorbing into it two other medieval dioceses: Annaghdown and Mayo.

Death and feast
Jarlath died around 550. His feast is on 6th June.