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Britain, and who was the Master of so many renowned saints. Yet the circumstances of time, of station, and of erudition, would not render this an extravagant supposition. This holy man, with one hundred and fifty of his disciples, has been invoked in the Litany of St. Ængus.2 Yet, it seems difficult to assign his exact festival, owing as well to the confused orthographies, Munchin, Manchen, Mainchein, and Manchan, not to speak of Mansen, Manicheus, and other varied Latinized forms, with which we meet, as also to the great number of saints thus called, but whose festival days are not sufficiently distinguished by predicates in Martyrologies.3

Certain writers confound St. Munchin of Limerick with St. Manchan of Menadrochid. Not alone are these places far apart, but the periods when both holy men flourished seem to mark a wide difference. St. Manchan of Menadrochid died A.D. 648, according to the Annals of the Four Masters. The Annals of Clonmacnoise record his demise at A.D. 649. Dr. O'Donovan regards this latter date even as antecedant to his dormition.

The Annals of Ulster assign the death of Maencha, Abbot of Menadrochit, to A.D. 651. This place is now known as Monadrochid, a townland situated in the south end of MaghThuat, plain or parish of Offerilan. It lies about one mile north-east from Borris-in-Ossory, Queen's County.

If St. Munchin of Limerick flourished in the time of St. Patrick, we must then fairly conclude he cannot be confounded with St. Mainchein, the Wise, or Manchene, Abbot of Menedrochaidh, who died A.D. 651,8 or 652.9

However, it is thought that St. Manchin of Limerick lived, at least two centuries, before that period, assigned by our Martyrologies to St. Manchen, Abbot of Menedrochit.10

1 He is specially mentioned in the Acts of St. David, of St. Tighernach, of St. Enda, and of St. Modwenna.

2 Num. 60.

3 It has been remarked by Colgan, that the various forms of this name are derivable from the Irish Manath, which means "a monk." These appellations, in many cases were substituted, it is thought, for cognomens, and thus they are probably, sometimes, read as proper names of saints, and sometimes as a characteristic of their profession. See Trias Thaumaturga. "Sexta Vita S. Patricii," n.

67, p. 101.

4 See Harris' Ware, vol. i. Bishops of Limerick, p. 503.

5 See "Annals of the Four Masters," vol. i., pp. 262, 263, and n. (n.)

6 Colgan thinks him to be identical with St. Manchein, the sage, of Dysart Gallen, and whose festival is kept on the same day.

? There are still some ruins here, and his feast day is held on the 10th of September.

8 According to the "Annals of Ulster."

9 According to the "Anna's of Tighernach."

10 See Lenihan's "History of Limerick," chap. i., p. 5.




Now, St. Munchin thus belonged, as tradition holds, to the blood royal of North Munster. St. Molua and he were regarded as tutelary saints of the Thomond O'Briens.' St. Munchin, called the son of Sedna, is said to have been the first founder of Mungret Monastery, regarding which a curious legend has come down in popular tradition. Some maintain, that the Priory of Mungret, within the liberties of Limerick, was first founded by St. Patrick, in the fifth century. Other writers state, that St. Nessan was the founder of this Monastery, or at least its first Abbot. Hence, probably, the place derived its name in ancient times; for we are told it was formerly called the city of Deochain-assain. Whether before. or after his appointment, as bishop of Limerick, is not stated; but, it has been thought, St. Munchin in the due course of time succeeded St. Nessan, as Abbot, over Mungret or Muingharid. This house or colony contained 1,500 monks :6 500 of whom were devoted to preaching; 500 others were so classed and divided, as to have a perpetual full choir day and night; while the remaining 500 were old men, of exemplary piety, who devoted themselves to charitable and religious works. This statement seems to have been founded on a local tradition.

Mungret parish is situated partly within the liberties of Limerick, and partly in the barony of Pubblebrien. The river Shannon forms a part of its northern boundary. Although it has been stated, on the authority of "The Psalter of Cashel," that Mungret had formerly within its walls six churches, and contained, exclusive of scholars, 1,600 religious," yet, the ecclesiastical remains now left are very inconsiderable. There

1 See O'Halloran's "History of Ireland," vol. ii., chap. ii.. p. 97.


Rev. Dr. Reeves identifies him with the patron Saint of Limerick. a Paper read before the Royal Irish Academy, June 10th, 1861, on Augustin, an Irish writer of the seventh century.

3 See Ferrar's" History of Limerick," part iii., chap 3, pp. 136, 186, 187. According to Cormac MacCuillenan, in The Psalter of Cashel, as quoted in Gough's "Camden's Britannia," vol. iii., p. 519.

See Lenihan's" Limerick, its History and Antiquities," chap. liv., pp. 539, 540. 6 See an illustration, and some account of Mungret Priory, in Mr. and Mrs. Hall's “Ireland, its Scenery, Character," &c., vol. i., p. 361. This, however, is not a very ancient building.

7 See Ferrar's" History of Limerick," part iii., chap. 3, p. 186.

8 In the "Annals of the Four Masters," the name of this parish is Mungkirit. Dr. O'Donovan confesses himself unable to resolve its etymology.

9 See Gough's "Camden's Britannia," vol iii., p. 519.

is an old church in the Irish style of the tenth century. This is situated immediately to the left of the road, as you approach it from Limerick. On the inside, this church measures 41 feet in length by 23 feet in breadth. Considering its age, the walls are in good preservation.2 The side walls are 2 feet 10 inches in thickness and 14 feet in height; they are built with good stones, cemented with excellent lime and sand mortar. The west gable is remarkably high and sharp at the point, while the east one is rendered obtuse, after the storms of ages. As usually the case, in old Irish churches, the doorway opens in the west gable. It is 6 feet 8 inches in height, while it is 3 feet 7 inches wide at the bottom, and it diminishes to 3 feet 4 inches at the top.3 A large breach in the south wall extends from the ground to the top of a round-headed window, which, excepting its top, has altogether disappeared. The east gable contains a rude round-headed window, placed at some height from the ground. On the inside it measures about 5 feet 10 inches in height, and 2 feet 8 inches in width; on the outside, it is about 3 feet 10 inches in height, and 1 foot 6 inches in width. The north wall is in very good preservation, but featureless; the south wall is a good deal injured, and besides the window already alluded to, it contained another, now reduced to a formless breach.5

According to tradition, little Kilrush is said to have been built by Rose, a sister of St. Munchin. Again, the Church of Killeely, in a parish of the same name, was dedicated to Lelia, also thought to have been a sister to St. Munchin.7 It adjoins Mungret parish. When the death of St. Munchen happened has not been ascertained with any degree of correctness. We are carelessly told, indeed, that St. Munchen, the first bishop of Limerick died in the year 652.8 authority whatever is cited for such a statement.


1 So states Dr. O'Donovan, who describes this parish. See Letters containing Information relative to the Antiquities of the county of Limerick, collected during the progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1840. Vol. i., pp. 33-34

This ruin, however, is only one of an interesting group.

3 It is built of Cyclopean masonry, and Dr. O'Donovan supplies a rough drawing of it.

Dr. O'Donovan gives a sketch of this window.

5 An account of the more modern abbey church, and some other ecclesiastical ruins in this parish, follows the foregoing, with the history of Mungret. See ibid. pp. 35 to 57. Among the Ordnance Survey Sketches, preserved in the R.I.A., there is a pencil sketch of this Abbey by William F. Wakeman, and taken in 1840.

6 This ancient church is said to resemble. in various particulars, that of Mungret. The residence of the Hon. Robert O'Brien, brother of Lord Inchiquin, adjoins it.

7 Lenihan's "Limerick, its History and Antiquities," chap. liv., PP. 542-543* See Ferrar's "History of Limerick," part i., chap. I, p. 4.

It is not considered probable, by Dr. Lanigan, that the patron saint of Limerick, St. Munchen or Manchin, had been a bishop over that see.1 It has been remarked, likewise, that we now find nothing related, respecting the successors of St. Munchin in the See of Limerick, before the times of those Pagan Ostmen, who held Limerick by force of arms, as they did other cities.3 We labour under like defects and disadvantages in reference to the early origin of many among our most celebrated towns and cities.



AN impenetrable mystery seems to shroud the history of the establishment of a See at Limerick, while the acts of its patron Saint and first bishop are involved in a maze of obscurity. Various writers have endeavoured to solve the problem presented, but they have been obliged to leave much for conjecture, and this has only tended the more to perpetuate uncertainty. Some writers make this city identical with the Regia found on the map of Ptolemy, the geographer. St. Munchin is thought to have been earliest bishop over Limerick,* and he is traditionally said to have founded this see and a Cathedral there, called after his name.5

The first historian of this city, Ferrar, could not discover anything authentic concerning it, until about the middle of the ninth century. A still later history of the county and city of Limerick has been written by Rev. P. Fitzgerald and J. J. M'Gregor. These writers have acknowledged the obscurity in which the city of Limerick's original foundation is involved. The same historians state, that a manuscript' belonging to the friars of Multifernam, designates Limerick as Rosse-de-hailleagh. Although little be known regarding Limerick before


'See "Ecclesiastical History of Ireland." vol. ii., chap. xi., § iv., 53, p. 63. 2 In Harris' Ware, vol. i., Bishops of Limerick, p. 503.

3 But in the tenth century, they were converted to the Christian religion. However, we hardly find any bishop in this see before Gille or Gillebert, who commenced to govern it about the beginning of the 12th century. See ibid.

See Ferrar's History of Limerick," part iii., ch. ii., p. 170; and ch. iii., p. 186. 5 See Harris' "Ware," vol i., Bishops of Limerick, p. 503.

See Ferrar's "History of Limerick." p. 3.

7 This, however, would not seem to have been the Annales de Monte Fernandi. The Annales de Monte Fernandi, or Annals of Multifernam, edited by Dr. Aquilla Smith, have been published by the Irish Archæological Society. In these Annals, I cannot discover any allusion to Limerick under the foregoing name, as given in the text.

the Danes landed there, yet, its having been reputed the see of a bishop so early as the 7th century, furnishes some proof that it was a place of consequence at a very remote period.1

But there can hardly be any question that the Church of Limerick had a continued succession of bishops from a very early date.2 To St. Munchin the foundation of Limerick Cathedral has been generally assigned. From about the middle of the sixth century, Limerick appears to have held rank among the cities of Ireland. In the second Life of St. Senan, one Denson, called bishop of Limerick, is said to have attended the funeral of Iniscathy's first abbot;5 yet, it has been asserted, that there was neither a city nor a bishop of Limerick at this early period."

St. Munchin's church in this city, is said by one writer to have been founded by St. Munchin about the year 630.7 It is thought to have been rebuilt by the Danes after their conversion to Christianity. St. Munchin's church continued to be this city's cathedral, until after the erection of St. Mary's church.8 Then it would appear to have been converted to a parish church, as the new building had been considered more convenient and appropriate for cathedral purposes.

It is situated at the north end of the English town. Little is however known regarding its subsequent history, until the year 1711, a time of great excitement in Limerick. Then the church was diverted from its original purposes. It received some additions and repairs, under the superintendence of the Protestant Bishop Smyth.10 This old church was a plain building, 86 feet in length by 23 in breadth. It was destitute

1 See Ferrar's" History of Limerick," part iii., chap. i., pp. 149, 150. 2 See Lenihan's "Limerick : its History and Antiquities," chap. liv. p. 544.

3 This continued tradition has been followed by Sir James Ware and his authorities, as also by all our ancient and modern writers. This was the Cathedral of Limerick See, until about the time of the English invasion, when St. Mary's Cathedral was founded by Donald O'Brien, king of Limerick. The Ostmen are said to have restored St. Munchin's church. See Lenihan's "Limerick its History and Antiquities," chap. liv., p. 542.

See Mr. and Mrs Hall's "Ireland: its Scenery, Character, &c.," vol. i., p. 325. 5 Colgan's "Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae," viii. Martii. Vita S. Senani, cap. xliii.. P. 537 (recte) 533.

See Dr. Lanigan's “Ecclesiastical History of Ireland,” vol. ii. chap. xi. iv. 33,

p. 92.

7 See Ferrar's "History of Limerick," part i., chap. i., p. 4. Yet, in another place, its erection is assigned to A.D. 651. See ibid., part iii., chap. 1, p. 149.

8 See ibid note, p. 4. For a further account in reference to the parochial history of this rectory, see "Carlisle's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland," under the heading. LIMERICK.

See Lenihan's "Limerick, its History and Antiquities," chap. liv., p. 149. 10 See Lenihan's "Limerick its History and Antiquities," chap. liv., pp.


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