Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Molaga

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

MOLAGA or MOLACA (fl. 650), Irish saint, of Leaba Molaga and Tigh Molaga, now Timoleage, co. Cork, was son of Duibligid, of the family of Ui Coscraidh, descendants of the Druid Mogh Ruith, who was of the race of Fergus MacRoigh, king of Ulster. The family occupied a territory in the present barony of Fermoy, their chief town being Liathmuine, now Cloghleafin, in the parish of Kilgullane. One day, while Duibligid was sowing flax-seed near Carncuille, now Aghacross, he is said to have been visited by SS. Cuimin fada and his brother Comdan on their way southward accompanied by a clerical party. On learning that he was still labouring, notwithstanding his advanced age, because he had no son, St. Cuimin foretold he should have one who should illuminate both the Scotias (Ireland and Scotland) with his holiness. Seven months later the child was born, and was baptised by St. Cuimin. Arrived at a suitable age, he studied the scriptures in his native place, and eventually built a monastery hard by at Tulach min, now Leaba Molaga. He subsequently had to leave it, and made his way to Connor in Ulster, from which, passing westward, he crossed the Bann at the ford of Camus, but having forgotten his bell it was, according to legend, divinely restored to him, and the place was thenceforth known as Termon an cluig, 'the sanctuary of the bell,' now Kilfoda or Senchill. Thence he proceeded to Scotland and on to Wales, where he and St. David formed a mutual Friendship. There he was known as Lachin, the usual prefix mo being omitted, and the diminutive in added. When leaving, St. David gave him a bell, which was known as the Boban Molaga. Warned by an angel to return to Ireland, he crossed over to the city called Dun Duiblinne, the fortress of Dublin, otherwise named Ath-diath, or the ford of hurdles. At this time the king of Dublin was suffering from profuse perspirations, and Molaga, having been called in, is said to have cured him by transferring the perspiration to his bell. The grateful king bestowed on him a town in Fingal with a perpetual rent. There he erected a church and established a swarm of bees, which he obtained from St. Damongoc or Domnog of Tiprat Fachtna in Ossory, a pilgrim, who brought them from Wales (cf. Calendar of Oengus). The ruins of the monastery or church founded by him, and which was known as Lann-beachair (the Beeman's church), may still be seen to the north of Balbriggan, co. Dublin. It is now known as Lambechair. Returning thence to Tulach min at the request of the people, he was appointed confessor to the king, and it was determined that his church should be constituted a termon or sanctuary. The four pillars which marked the boundaries of the sanctuary still remain. Some time afterwards Flann king of the Hy Fidgeinte, in the present baronies of Upper and Lower Connello, co. Limerick, came with a crowd of followers to visit Molaga's king, Cai gan mathair, and behaved so turbulently that Molaga, according to his biographers, summoned wild beasts from the forest, and produced an earthquake, in order to terrify the king, and thus induce him to protect the monastery. The king is said to have prostrated himself before the saint, who placed his foot on his neck seven times, and, moved by his penitence, declared that seven kings should spring from him. At this time the pestilence called the Buidhe Chounail, or yellow plague, was raging at Corcabascin, co. Clare, and Molaga successfully exerted himself to arrest its spread. He died on 20 Jan., but nothing is known of the year beyond the fact that he survived the great plague of 664. At Leaba Molaga in the barony of Condons and Clongibbons are to be seen the ruins of his oratory, with the cashel or enclosing wall and two crosses. To the south, at a distance of eighty yards, are the four pillar stones enclosing the termon or sanctuary. A square tomb beneath the south wall is supposed to be the grave of the saint.

[Vita Molaggae su Molaci Confessoris ex Hibernico versa; Colgan's Acta Sanct. pp. 145 sq.; Calendar of Oengus, p. xlii; Giraldus Cambrensis's Topographia, cap. v. (Rolls Ser.); Die Irische Kanonensammlung, von H. Wasserschleben, zweite Auflage, p. 175; Lord Dunraven's Notes on Irish Architecture, pp. 61, &c.; Lanigan's Eccl. Hist. iii. 83; D. J. O'Donovan's Martyrology of Donegal, 20 Jan.]

T. O.