Page images
PDF
EPUB

“Son of Niad Segamain,
in whose time they used to milk double herds, that is cows

and does. Hair-beautiful Flidis
his mother (was she] whose were cows [and] does.
Son of Fercorb.”

Two dots under the name Nia Segamain, and two over the word mathair, indicate that Nia Segamain was he whose mother was Flidais. The Lebar Gabala, however, and all works founded on it, have taken a mathair, “his mother," to be the proper name of a King of Ireland that intervened between Fercorb and Nia Segamain, and was son of the one and father of the other! Again, in the pedigrees one or more names at a time are often accidentally omitted. And between Rechtaid and Mac Corb there is room for more names than Coilbat, or Cobthach, or both, for, according to Gilla Coemain, followed by the Four Masters, 148 years, or according to Keating 153, or according to O'Flaherty 98, intervened between the accessions of Rechtaid and Mog Corb. On the whole, Mac Corb, = Mog Corb, = Corb Cliach, may not have been of the main Munster line at all, or, being of it, may, for all that appears, have been the son of a Labraid, as is Corba on the tombstone at Bally boodan.

The word xor in the Ballyboodan inscription is a puzzle. In the “Book of Leinster," 28", and in the “Book of Ballymote,” 312, 325“, and in most Irish grammars the Ogham character x stands for diphthongs and triphthongs beginning with E, and in half a dozen late inscriptions it does mean E. In a dozen old inscriptions, however, it seems to stand for a consonant which most probably was c. 1. “The Ogham Tract," BB. 312, 1. 13, makes car the syllabic value of x, and ACH that of X, thus connecting x, single and treble, with the sound of c. 2. x seems to stand for c in the name TOICAXI at Dunloe.

The inscriptions containing the word xor are :

NETA-TALAMINACCA XOI MAQQI MUCOI DOFFINIAS, Ballintaggart.

MAQI-IARI XOI MAQQI MUCOE DOFFINIAS, do.
BROINIENAS X01 NETA-TTRENA-LUGOS, Monataggart.
CORBI

XOI MAQI LABRIATTS, Ballyboodan.
LOBB[I] XOI MAQQI MOCCOI, #c, Legan.

In all five inscriptions xor is a word distinct from the preceding and from the following. Those who read x as P, read xor as POI = BOT, some tense of the verb “to be” in Irish, but do not explain its position as such between genitives. For xo1 = cor, a dozen different meanings may be assigned, each probable enough, till overborne by the accumulated probability of the rest.

1. Gen. Coi may be a proper name, such as Latin Caius, in Irish nom. Cae, gen. Cai: Cae Cainbrethach, author of the “ Bretha Cai,"

“ Ancient Laws of Ireland,” vi., 275, and Cormac's “Glossary." Cell cai, LL. 335°; Cluain cae, 356, = cluain Caoi, “Martyrology of Donegal"; Ecca Mac hui chae, LL. 3564.

2. Coi may be the gen. of Coios, found in one of a group of Gallic coin inscriptions : ORCIITIRIX-COIOS, ORGETIRIX-EDUIS, ORGETIRIX ATPILLIF., OR ETIR. ATPILLIF., ORGET.Revue Celtique, ix. 33. Assuming that all are of the same reign, Coios should be the title of Orgetirix, Atpillius being his father's name, and his country being the state of the Edui.

3. Coi means “weeping," Atkinson's “ Passions and Homilies”; lamentum, “Ir. Glosses"; lamentatio, Cormac's “Glossary.” 4. Ca, Cormac's “Glossary”; cai or ca, O'Clery's “Glossary," means "a house" (a tomb ?). 5. Coi, “flesh," “ O'Reilly,” (a dead body ?). 6. Coi, a “poem,” “O'Reilly,” (an inscription ?). 7. Coi, compare Latin -que, Greek kai, “and”; and Latin cum, Ir. co n., “ with.” 8. Coi, compare qui in Latin, quiesco, qui-evi, requies, requiei.

(To be continued.)

THE ANCIENT CHURCHES OF THE TOWN OF WEXFORD.

By JOHN B. CULLEN.

next to Weimen, or the spotsher homes, the four

The student of history must always realise the advantages those enjoy

1 who happen to live in the neighbourhood of historic scenes and monuments. To have seen the homes, the foundations or the tombs of illustrious men, or the spots where great events have happened, is next to being present at those events themselves, or witnessing them with our own eyes. In this respect few places are more highly favoured than Wexford. In a way its associations would seem for many centuries to link more with those of the sister isle than with the affairs of home, and to share more closely than those of any other town in Ireland the common history of the two countries. This arose mainly from the natural position of Wexford, its sandy haven being a favourite landing place for adventurers from the days of the Phænicians till the completion of the English conquest.

The ecclesiastical remains which are plentifully scattered through the town possess a singular interest ; since in their dedications and nomenclature many local traditions have been preserved which have survived the more valuable evidences of history.

From such reliable records as we have, we gather that the number of churches formerly existing on the present site of Wexford, were eleven in number. The greater part of these stood outside the mural defences of the town.

The abbey of SS. Peter and Paul, better known as Selskar Abbey, was the most important of these foundations, and from an historical point of view, it must be considered one of the most interesting remains in Ireland. Tradition strongly asserts that it was originally founded by the Danes who, when they embraced Christianity in the ninth century, raised its walls on the site of the temple of Woden. However, in the Norman period, the patronage of the abbey was vested in the family of Sir Alexander des Roches, of Artramont, whose son, the crusader knight, was the subject of the well-known and romantic legend of Selskar.' The Des Roches were foremost among the Poitevin favourites brought over by the young king—who bestowed large grants of Irish lands upon them in counties of Cork and Wexford. Their kinsman, Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, was for a time guardian of the youthful king and shared the administration of the kingdom with De Burgh during his minority. Through the influence of this churchman, his relatives received unlimited favours from the hands of the sovereign, a fact which caused much jealousy among the English barons, and eventually brought about many of the troubles of the reign of Henry III.

1" It is told that in the days of the Crusaders a Wexford knight set out for Jerusalem. He was engaged to be married, but at the call of arms he durst not tarry, and with many a sigh and many a tear bade his adieux to his affianced bride. Those were the days of chivalry, when valour, gallantry, and religion were strangely blended. Laurels won on foreign plains-especially under the banner of the Cross— had a military fascination which we can nowadays ill understand. However, our young knight set out, foreboding gladly his quick return, covered with glory, and, perhaps, a few scars, from the holy fields. He assuaged the sorrows of his bride by promises

The most imposing portion of the abbey now standing, is the square battlemented tower, which rises to a height of some seventy or eighty feet. Attached to it are the remains of the church, which is unusual in its construction. It consists of two naves, supported by a central row of four arches. The pillars are square, save one, which is octagonal. In both naves are western windows, inserted seemingly at a date much later than that which marks the main portions of the building. In style the windows are different, that of the south gable being early pointed architecture, while the other is of more obtuse or depressed Gothic. The latter must have been the more beautiful of the two, since the fragments of its mouldings show that it once contained five geometrical traceries,

of costly textures and roseate gems from the East-with precious relics from the Holy Sepulchre. Time passed on. Reports, few and far between, came, bearing news as in our own rapid days of the lights and shadows of the war. At last a fatal rumour came, crushing to the bridal heart. It was said the Wexford knight had fallen, when or where it was not told, but boding silence seemed to seal the news. Months passed on, and yet a year; no gladdening tidings came. Hope began to die within the maiden's heart, and in her saddened soul she vowed that if another cycle passed untold

• Her hopes, her fears, her joys, her all,

To hide within the cloister wall,
And there to give her ample dower
To raise some convent's eastern tower,
And shroud within the sacred gloom
Her blasted hopes and withered bloom.'

“The boding year came and passed, and with it no hopeful tidings from the Holy Land. In fulfilment of her vow the lady entered a convent and became a nun. When the wars of Palestine were over, legion after legion returned to Europe, and unexpectedly among the bronzed Crusaders the knight of Wexford reached his castle safe and sound. On his arrival he hastened to the home of his bride, but only to find his treasure flown, and to learn that the hand whereon he had hoped to clasp his gems had sought a nobler Spouse. It is hardly needful to dwell upon his disappointment. In his anguish he sought the solace of religion, and, following the example of his betrothed, entered the cloister of Selskar, exchanging the mailed trappings of a soldier for the habit of a monk. Beside the abbey church he built a votive chapel, and here within a costly shrine were deposited the gifts of the Crusader, the relics of the Holy Sepulchre. Hither came pilgrims from many parts. The Abbey of Wexford became a centre of faith, famous throughout the land. From the veneration paid at its glittering shrine the Danish Abbey of SS. Peter and Paul began to be more commonly known as that of the Holy Sepulchre, which name is echoed in the •Selskar' of to-day.”—Leaves from a Sketch-book.

which recall the lines of many of Wykeham's windows in Winchester Cathedral. The want of harmony in the details of pillars, arches, and windows of this church is a question of architectural taste, but to the historian it supplies a valuable interest, inasmuch as it bespeaks the various periods--of changes and vicissitude-which fill the annals of the abbey.

Almost every event of civil or ecclesiastical importance connected with the early history of Wexford was associated with, or had its scene in Selskar Abbey. Its first walls were, as tradition says, erected by the Danish founders of Wexford-a monument it may have been of their conversion and repentance.

Here the first treaty concluded between Ireland and the English was signed at the invasion, surrendering the town of Wexford to Dermod M‘Murrogh and his allies. In 1172, on the occasion of his lenten sojourn in Wexford, Henry II. lodged within the abbey, whence he sailed on Easter Tuesday for Normandy to make his submission to the Papal legate in the cathedral of Avranches, after the martyrdom of Becket. The marriage of Raymond le Gros with Basilia de Clare was solemnised with great splendour in Selskar, A.D. 1174. From the burning of Ferns, in 1166, till 1224, the abbey was the residence successively of the bishops, Joseph O'Hethe and Albinus O’Mulloy, who played so remarkable a part in the first chapters of the conquest. Hence, they are styled on records of the time, “bishops of Wexford.” Both prelates are said to be interred here.

John St. John, first Norman prelate of Ferns, held a synod in Selskar, in 1240, and having obtained many privileges for his diocese, framed new constitutions, which he promulgated on that occasion. Many of the events of the episcopate of Patrick Barrett, bishop of Ferns (1404), and Lord Chancellor of Ireland are associated with Selskar. In the reign of Henry IV., 1404, John Talbot, the great Earl of Shrewsbury, bestowed the Norman Mariner church of St. Nicholas at Carrig on the Abbot of SS. Peter and Paul. Sixty years later, when Desmond had besieged Wexford in the Yorkist cause, seized the Castle, and assumed the government, he held a Parliament in the Chapter House of the Abbey, he being then Lord Deputy of Ireland. One of the statutes of this Parliament is still extant. It provided for the repairs and condition of the walls of Wexford.

At the suppression of religious houses, in the 31st of Henry VIII., the appurtenances of the abbey were granted to John Parker, and later passed to Philip Devereux, as recorded in the 26th year of Elizabeth's reign. In the reign of James I., in the official records, we find that a deed dated June 8th, 1612, conveyed the rectories of Selskar, and St. Dulogue to Sir Henry Wallop, Knight, “ for ever," with all the tithes and lands belonging thereto. By his descendants they are still possessed.

Sir Henry Wall veyed the rectoriaecords, we find tha

tithes and

« PreviousContinue »