Molaissi (DNB00)

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MOLAISSI (533–563), Irish saint, son of Nadfraech and Monua, was a descendant of Conall Cernach, and was born in 533. He founded a church on an island in Loch Erne known in Irish as Daimhinis, or Stag Island, and at the present day as Devinish. A round tower and a church, both of much later date than the saint, with some ancient tombs, are to be seen on the island. He lived there with a community of monks, subject to a rule instituted by him. It was not wanting in austerity, for throughout Lent it allowed only one handful of barley grain each twenty-four hours. He lived through the Buidhe Chonnail, or plague of the reign of Diarmait and Blathmac, in which both kings and St. Fechin of Fore [q. v.] perished. He is described as going about in a hood of badgers' skins, long afterwards preserved as a relic, and called the brocainech. Another was a little evangelistarium called the soiscela beg, which he used to carry about with him. He made a pilgrimage to Rome. The rest of his life presents a long series of miracles and of austerities. He died on 12 Sept. 563. Michael O'Clery mentions an ancient Irish life (Felire na Naomh Nerennach, p. 245), and quotes a poem on him by Cuimin of Coindeire, beginning 'Carais Molaisi an locha-Molaissi of the lake loves.' S. H. O'Grady has printed and translated another Irish life of him from a copy in a sixteenth-century Irish manuscript now in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 18205). He is sometimes called Laisren or Lasrianus, and his name is also spelt Molaise. A fragment of his ancient office has been preserved by Michael O'Clery. He is described as tall, and had three sisters : Muadhnat, Tallulla, abbess of Kildare, and Osnat.

He is to be distinguished from Molaissi of Leighlin, whose feast was 18 April; from Molaissi of Inis Muiredhaigh, who is venerated on Inishmurray to this day, and whose day is 12 Aug.; and from Molaissi of Cill-Molaissi, in South Munster.

[T. O'Donovan's Martyrology of Donegal, Dublin, 1864; S. H. O'Grady's Silva Gadelica, 1892; W. Stokes's Calendar of Oengus, 1871.]

N. M.