The Life of St. Mochuda of Lismore
by Saint Mochuda
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Next, the nobles present cast lots to decide which one of them should go with the king to lay hands on Mochuda and expel him from the monastery. The lot fell upon the Herenach [hereditary steward] of Cluain Earaird. He and the king accompanied by armed men went to the monastery where they found Mochuda and all the brethren in the church. Cronan, a certain rich man in the company, shouted out, "Make haste with the business on which you are come." Mochuda answered him—"You shall die immediately, but on account of the alms which you gave me for the love of Christ and on account of your uniform piety heretofore your progeny shall prosper for ever." That prophecy has been fulfilled. Another man, Dulach by name, winked mockingly with one of his eyes; moreover he laughed and behaved irreverently towards Mochuda. Mochuda said to him: —"Thus shall you be—with one eye closed and a grin on your countenance —to the end of your life; and of your descendants many will be similarly afflicted." Yet another member of the company, one Cailche, scurrilously abused and cursed Mochuda. To him Mochuda said:— "Dysentery will attack you immediately and murrain that will cause your death." The misfortune foretold befell him and indeed woeful misfortune and ill luck pursued many of them for their part in the wrong doing. When the king saw these things he became furious and, advancing—himself and the abbot of Cluain Earaird—they took each a hand of Mochuda and in a disrespectful, uncivil manner, they led him forth out of the monastery while their followers did the same with Mochuda's community. Throughout the city and in the country around there was among both sexes weeping, mourning, and wailing over their humiliating expulsion from their own home and monastery. Even amongst the soldiers of the king were many who were moved to pity and compassion for Mochuda and his people.

One of Mochuda's monks had gout in his foot and for him Mochuda besought the king and his following that he, as he was unable to travel, might be allowed to remain in the monastery; the request was, however, refused. Mochuda called the monk to him and, in the name of Christ, he commanded the pain to leave the foot and to betake itself to the foot of Colman [Colman mac hua Telduib, abbot, or perhaps erenach only, of Cluain Earaird], the chieftain who was most unrelenting towards him. That soreness remained in Colman's foot as long as he lived. The monk however rose up and walked and was able to proceed on his way with his master.

There was an aged monk who wished to be buried at Rahen; Mochuda granted the request, and he received Holy Communion and sacred rites at the saint's hands. Then he departed to heaven in the presence of all and his body was buried at Rahen as he had himself chosen that it should be.

Leaving Rahen Mochuda paid a visit to the monastic cemetery weeping as he looked upon it; he blessed those interred there and prayed for them. By the permission of God it happened that the grave of a long deceased monk opened so that all saw it, and, putting his head out of the grave, the tenant of the tomb cried out in a loud voice: "O holy man and servant of God, bless us that through thy blessing we may rise and go with you whither you go." Mochuda replied:—"So novel a thing I shall not do, for it behoves not to raise so large a number of people before the general resurrection." The monk asked—"Why then father, do you leave us, though we have promised union with you in one place for ever?" Mochuda answered:—"Brother, have you ever heard the proverb—necessity is its own law [necessitas movet decretum et consilium]? Remain ye therefore in your resting places and on the day of general resurrection I shall come with all my brethren and we shall all assemble before the great cross called 'Cross of the Angels' at the church door and go together for judgement." When Mochuda had finished, the monk lay back in his grave and the coffin closed.

Mochuda, with his following, next visited the cross already mentioned and here, turning to the king, he thus addressed him:—"Behold the heavens above you and the earth below." The king looked at them: then Mochuda continued:—"Heaven may you not possess and even from your earthly principality may you soon be driven and your brother whom you have reproached, because he would not lay hands on me, shall possess it instead of you, and in your lifetime. You shall be despised by all—so much so that in your brother's house they shall forget to supply you with food. Moreover yourself and your children shall come to an evil end and in a little while there shall not be one of your seed remaining." Then Mochuda cursed him and he rang his small bell against him and against his race, whence the bell has since been known as "The Bell of Blathmac's Extinguishing," or "The Bell of Blathmac's Drowning," because it drowned or extinguished Blathmac with his posterity. Blathmac had a large family of sons and daughters but, owing to Mochuda's curse, their race became extinct. Next to the prince of Cluain Earaird who also had seized him by the hand, he said: "You shall be a servant and a bondman ere you die and you shall lose your territory and your race will be a servile one." To another of those who led him by the hand he said:—"What moved you to drag me by the hand from my own monastery?" The other replied:—"It pleased me not that a Munster man should have such honour in Meath." "I wish," said Mochuda, "that the hand you laid on me may be accursed and that the face you turned against me to expel me from my home may be repulsive and scrofulous for the remainder of your life." This curse was effective for the man's eye was thereupon destroyed in his head. Mochuda noticed that some of Columcille's successors and people from Durrow, which was one of Columcille's foundations, had taken part in his eviction. He thus addressed them:—"Contention and quarrelling shall be yours for ever to work evil and schism amongst you—for you have had a prominent part in exciting opposition to me." And so it fell out.

The king and his people thereupon compelled Mochuda to proceed on his way. Mochuda did proceed with his disciples, eight hundred and sixty seven in number (and as many more they left buried in Rahen). Moreover, many more living disciples of his who had lived in various parts of Ireland were already dead. All the community abounded in grace: many of its members became bishops and abbots in after years and they erected many churches to the glory of God.

Understand, moreover, that great was the charity of the holy bishop, as the following fact will prove:—in a cell without the city of Rahen he maintained in comfort and respectability a multitude of lepers. He frequently visited them and ministered to them himself—entrusting that office to no one else. It was known to all the lepers of Ireland how Mochuda made their fellow-sufferers his special care and family, and the result was that an immense number of lepers from all parts flocked to him and he took charge and care of them. These on his departure from Rahen he took with him to Lismore where he prepared suitable quarters for them and there they have been ever since in comfort and in honour according to Mochuda's command.

As Mochuda and his people journeyed along with their vehicles they found the way blocked by a large tree which lay across it. Owing to the density of underwood at either side they were unable to proceed. Some one announced:—"There is a tree across the road before us, so that we cannot advance." Mochuda said: "In the name of Christ I command thee, tree, to rise up and stand again in thy former place." At the command of Mochuda the tree stood erect as it was originally and it still retains its former appearance, and there is a pile of stones there at its base to commemorate the miracle.

It was necessary to proceed; the first night after Mochuda's departure from Rahen the place that he came to was a cell called Drum Cuilinn [Drumcullen], on the confines of Munster, Leinster, and Clanna Neill, but actually within Clanna Neill, scil.:—in the territory of Fearceall in which also is Rahen. In Drum Cuilinn dwelt the holy abbot, Barrfhinn, renowned for miracles. On the morrow Mochuda arrived at Saighir Chiarain [Seirkieran] and the following night at the establishment where Cronan is now, scil.:—Roscrea. That night Mochuda remained without entertainment although it was offered to them by Cronan who had prepared supper for him. Mochuda refused however to go to it saying that he would not go out of his way to visit a man who avoids guests and builds his cell in a wild bog far from men and that such a man's proper guests are creatures of the wilderness instead of human beings. When Cronan heard this saying of Mochuda he came to the latter, by whose advice he abandoned his hermitage in the bog and he, with Mochuda, marked out the site of a new monastery and church at Roscrea. There he founded a great establishment and there he is himself buried. Mochuda took leave of Cronan and, travelling through Eile [Ely O'Carroll], came to the royal city named Cashel. On the following day the king, scil.:—Failbhe [Failbhe Flann], came to Mochuda offering him a place whereon to found a church. Mochuda replied:—"It is not permitted us by God to stay our journey anywhere till we come to the place promised to us by the holy men."

About the same time there came messengers from the king of Leinster to the king of Munster praying the latter, by virtue of league and alliance, to come to his assistance as Leath-Chuinn and the north were advancing in great force to ravage Leinster. This is how Failbhe was situated at the time: he had lost one of his eyes and he was ashamed to go half-blind into a strange territory. As soon as Mochuda realised the extent of the king's diffidence he blessed the eye making on it the sign of the cross and it was immediately healed in the presence of all. The king and Mochuda took leave of one another and went each his own way. The king and his hosting went to the aid of Leinster in the latter's necessity.

Mochuda journeyed on through Muscraige Oirthir the chief of which territory received him with great honour. Aodhan was the chief's name and he bestowed his homestead called Isiol [Athassel] on Mochuda, who blessed him and his seed. Next he came into the Decies. He travelled through Magh Femin where he broke his journey at Ard Breanuinn [Ardfinnan] on the bank of the Suir. There came to him here Maolochtair, king of the Decies, and the other nobles [or one noble, Suibhne] of his nation who were at variance with him concerning land. Mochuda by the grace of God made peace amongst them, and dismissed them in amity. Maolochtair gave that land to Mochuda who marked out a cell there where is now the city of Ardfinnnan, attached to which is a large parish subject to Mochuda and bearing his name. The wife of Maolochtair, scil:—Cuciniceas, daughter of Failbhe Flann, king of Munster, had a vision, viz.:—a flock of very beautiful birds flying above her head and one bird was more beautiful and larger than the rest. The other birds followed this one and it nestled in the king's bosom. Soon as she awoke she related the vision to the king; the king observed: "Woman you have dreamed a good dream and soon it will be realised; the flock of birds you have seen is Mochuda with his monks coming from Rahen and the most distinguished bird is Mochuda himself. And the settling in my bosom means that the place of his resurrection will be in my territory. Many blessings will come to us and our territory through him." That vision of the faithful woman was realised as the faithful king had explained it.

Subsequently Mochuda came to Maolochtair requesting from him a place where he might erect a monastery. Maolochtair replied: "So large a community cannot dwell in such a narrow place." Mochuda said: "God, who sent us to you, will show you a place suited to us." The king answered:—"I have a place, convenient for fish and wood, beside Slieve Gua on the bank of the Nemh but I fear it will not be large enough." Mochuda said:—"It will not be narrow; there is a river and fish and that it shall be the place of our resurrection." Thereupon, in the presence of many witnesses, the king handed over the land, scil.:— Lismore, to God and Mochuda and it is in that place Mochuda afterwards founded his famous city. Mochuda blessed the king and his wife as well as the nobles and all the people and taking leave of them and receiving their homage he journeyed across Slieve Gua till he came to the church called Ceall Clochair [Kilcloher]. The saint of that church, scil.:— Mochua Mianain, prepared a supper for Mochuda to the best of his ability, but he had only a single barrel of ale for them all. Although Mochuda with his people remained there three days and three nights and although the holy abbot (Mochua) continued to draw the ale into small vessels to serve the company, according to their needs, the quantity in the barrel grew no less but increased after the manner of the oil blessed by Elias [3 Kings 17:16]. Then one of the monks said to Mochuda, "If you remain in this place till the feast ends your stay will be a long one for it (the entertainment) grows no smaller for all the consumption." "That is true, brother," said Mochuda, "and it is fitting for us to depart now." They started therefore on their way and Mochua Mianain gave himself and his place to God and Mochuda for ever. On Mochuda's departure the ale barrel drained out to the lees.

Mochuda proceeded till he reached the river Nemh at a ford called Ath-Mheadhon [Affane] which no one could cross except a swimmer or a very strong person at low water in a dry season of summer heat, for the tide flows against the stream far as Lismore, five miles further up. On this particular occasion it happened to be high tide. The two first of Mochuda's people to reach the ford were the monks Molua and Colman, while Mochuda himself came last. They turned round to him and said that it was not possible to cross the river till the ebb. Mochuda answered: —"Advance through the water before the others in the name of your Lord Jesus Christ for He is the way the truth and the life" [John 14:6]. As soon as they heard this command of Mochuda's Molua said to Colman, "Which of the two will you hold back—the stream above or the sea below?" Colman answered:—"Let each restrain that which is nearest to him"—for Molua was on the upper, or stream, side and Colman on the lower, or sea, side. Molua said to Colman—"Forbid you the sea side to flow naturally and I shall forbid the stream side." Then with great faith they proceeded to cross the river; they signed the river with the sign of Christ's cross and the waters stood on either hand and apart, so that the dry earth appeared between. The side banks of water rose high because there was no passage up or down, so that the ridges were very elevated on both the sea and stream sides. The waters remained thus till such time as all Mochuda's people had crossed. Mochuda himself was the last to pass over and the path across was so level that it offered no obstacle to foot-passengers or chariots but was like a level plain so that they crossed dryshod, as the Jordan fell back for Josue the son of Nun [Josue 3:17]. Soon as Mochuda had crossed over he blessed the waters and commanded them to resume their natural course. On the reuniting again of the waters they made a noise like thunder, and the name of the place is The Place of Benedictions, from the blessings of Mochuda and his people.

Next the glorious bishop, Mochuda, proceeded to the place promised to him by God and the prophets, which place is the plain called Magh-Sciath. Mochuda, with the holy men, blessed the place and dedicated there the site of a church in circular form. There came to them a holy woman named Caimell who had a cell there and she asked, "What do you propose doing here, ye servants of God?" "We propose," answered Mochuda, "building here a little 'Lios' [enclosure] around our possession." Caimell observed, "Not a little Lios will it be but a great ['mor'] one (Lis-mor)." "True indeed, virgin," responded Mochuda, "Lismore will be its name for ever." The virgin offered herself and her cell to God and Mochuda for ever, where the convent of women is now established in the city of Lismore.

As Colman Elo, alluded to already, promised, Mochuda found his burial place marked out (consecrated?) by angels; there he and a multitude of his disciples are buried and it was made known to him by divine wisdom the number of holy persons that to the end of the world would be buried therein. Lismore is a renowned city, for there is one portion of it which no woman may enter and there are within it many chapels and monasteries, and in which there are always multitudes of devout people not from Ireland alone but from the land of the Saxons and from Britain and from other lands as well. This is its situation—on the south bank of the Avonmore in the Decies territory.

On a certain day there came a druid to Mochuda to argue and contend with him. He said:—"If you be a servant of God cause natural fruit to grow on this withered branch." Mochuda knew that it was to throw contempt on the power of God that the druid had come. He blessed the branch and it produced first living skin, then, as the druid had asked—leaves, blossom and fruit in succession. The druid marvelled exceedingly and went his way.

A poor man came to Mochuda on another occasion with an ill timed request for milk, and beer along with it. Mochuda was at the time close by the well which is known as "Mochuda's Well" at the present time; this he blessed changing it first into milk then into beer and finally to wine. Then he told the poor man to take away whatever quantity of each of these liquids he required. The well remained thus till at Mochuda's prayer it returned to its original condition again. An angel came from heaven to Mochuda at the time and told him that the well should remain a source of health and virtues and of marvels, and it still, like every well originally blessed by Mochuda, possesses power of healing from every malady.

Mochuda, now grown old and of failing powers and strength, was wearied and worried by the incessant clamour of building operations—the dressing of stones and timber—carried on by the multitude of monks and artisans. He therefore by consent and counsel of the brethren retired to a remote, lonely place situated in a glen called "Mochuda's Inch" below the great monastery. He took with him there a few monks and built a resplendent monastery; he remained in that place a year and six months more leading a hermitical life. The brethren and seniors of the community visited him (from time to time) and he gave them sound, sweetly-reasoned advice. He received a vow from each to follow his Rule, for he was the support of the aged, the health-giver to the weak, the consoler of the afflicted, the hope-giver to the hopeless, the faith-giver to the doubting, the moderator and uniter of the young.

As soon as Mochuda saw the hardship to the visiting brothers and elders of the descent from Lismore and the ascent thereto again—knowing at the same time that his end was approaching—he ordered himself to be carried up to the monastery so that the monks might be saved the fatigue of the descent to him. Then it pleased God to call to Himself His devoted servant from the troubles of life and to render to him the reward of his good works. He opened the gates of heaven then and sent to him a host of angels, in glory and majesty unspeakable. When Mochuda saw the heavens open above him and the angel band approaching, he ordered that he be set down in the middle of the glen and he related to the seniors the things that he had seen and he asked to receive the Body of Christ and he gave his last instruction to the monks—to observe the Law of God and keep His commands. The place was by the cross called "Crux Migrationis," or the cross from which Mochuda departed to Glory. Having received the Body and Blood of Christ, having taught them divine doctrines, in the midst of holy choirs and of many brethren and monks to whom in turn he gave his blessing and the kiss of peace according to the rule, the glorious and holy bishop departed to heaven accompanied by hosts of angels on the day before the Ides of May [May 14], in his union with the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.

Finit 7ber [September] 4th, 1741.


One of our scribe's predecessors omitted a word or two from the text here, with disastrous results to the sense. The Latin Life comes to our aid however and enables us to make good the omission; the latter, by the way, puzzles our scribe who is like a man fighting an invisible enemy— correcting a text of which he does not know the defect. Insertion of the words "walking backwards" immediately after "church," in the angel's answer, will enable us to see the original writer's meaning. The text should probably read:

The angel answered:—"Whom you shall see going from the church walking backwards to the guest-house" (for it was Mochuda's custom to walk backwards from the door of the church). Comghall announced to his household that there was coming to them a distinguished stranger, well-beloved of God, of whose advent an angel had twice foretold him. Some time later Mochuda arrived at Comghall's establishment, and he went to the monastery first and he did just as the angel foretold of him and Comghall recognised him and bade him welcome.


The obits of Mochuda's successors, down to Christian O'Conarchy, are chronicled as follows:—

A.D. 650. Cuanan, maternal uncle and immediate successor of Mochuda (Lanigan). A.D. 698. Iarnla, surnamed Hierologus (Four Masters). In his time King Alfrid was a student in Lismore. A.D. 702. Colman, son of Finnbhar (Acta Sanctorum). During his reign the abbey of Lismore reached the zenith of its fame. A.D. 716. Cronan Ua Eoan (F. Masters). A.D. 719. Colman O'Liathain (Annals of Inisfallen). A.D. 741. Finghal (F. Masters). A.D. 746. Mac hUige (Ibid). A.D. 747. Ihrichmech (A. of Inisf.) A.D. 748. Maccoigeth (F. M.) A.D. 752. Sinchu (F. M.) A.D. 755. Condath (Ibid). A.D. 756. Fincon (Annals of Ulster). A.D. 761. Aedhan (F. M.) A.D. 763. Ronan (Ware). A.D. 769. Soairleach Ua Concuarain (F. M.) A.D. 771. Eoghan (Ibid). A.D. 776. Orach (Ibid). A.D. 799. Carabran (Ibid). A.D. 801. Aedhan Ua Raichlich (A. of Inisf.) A.D. 823. Flann (F. M.) A.D. 849. Tibrade Ua Baethlanaigh (F. M.) At this period the town was plundered and burned by the Danes who had sailed up thither on the Blackwater. A.D. 849. Daniel (A. of Inisf.) A.D. 854. Suibne Ua Roichlech (F. M. and A. of Ulster). What is probably his gravestone is one of five Irish-inscribed slabs built into the west gable of the Cathedral. A.D. 861. Daniel Ua Liaithidhe (F. M.) A.D. 878. Martin Ua Roichligh (Ibid). Another of the inscribed stones above referred to asks "A prayer for Martan." A.D. 880. Flann Mac Forbasaich (A. I.) A.D. 899. Maelbrighte Mac Maeldomnaich (Ibid). A.D. 918. Cormac Mac Cuilennan (A. I.) He is to be distinguished from his more famous namesake of Cashel. A.D. 936. Ciaran (F. M.) A.D. 951. Diarmuid (Ibid). A.D. 957. Maenach Mac Cormaic (Ibid). A.D. 958. Cathmog (Ibid). He was also bishop of Cork. A.D. 963. Cinaedh (F. M.) A.D. 1025. Omaelsluaig (Cotton's "Fasti"). A.D. 1034. Moriertach O'Selbach, bishop of Lismore (Cotton). A.D. 1064. Mac Airthir, bishop (Cotton). A.D. 1090. Maelduin O'Rebhacain (Ibid). A.D. 1112. Gilla Mochuda O'Rebhacain (A. of I.) A.D. 1113. Nial Macgettigan. His episcopal staff, possibly enclosing the venerable oaken staff of the founder of the abbey, is still preserved at Lismore Castle. [Also known as the 'Lismore Crozier,' in 2004 it is housed in 'The Treasury' exhibit at the National Museum of Ireland, Kildare St., Dublin 2.] A.D. 1134. Malchus. Most probably he is identical with the first bishop of Waterford. During his term both St. Malachy and King Cormac MacCarthy dwelt as fugitives, guests or pilgrims, at Lismore. A.D. 1142. Ua Rebhacain. A.D. 1186. St. Christian. He had however resigned the bishopric.

- - ,-~~~ ~/ ~ ,/ /, / / ~ /~~ ~/~- / /~ / ,' /~ Tara * '~ - Rahen / .- ,/~ * / / /,/~ / Cashel / , ~ * / - Lismore -/ ,-~ *-,-~ -~/ /~ ,-~/= /~ ~/--/~'~ - MAP OF IRELAND -


The source for this text includes the Irish text & English translation on facing pages and notes. The notes are quite lengthy and should take longer to transcribe than the English text. Except for a few notes transplanted in brackets to the body of the text I have not transcribed them. Due to inexperience with the Irish language and its script I have decided not to attempt to transcribe the Irish text. Hopefully someone with the appropriate talent and interest will undertake that task some day. I have corrected the errata as indicated in the source and a few obvious printer errors.


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