Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/341

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The Etiropean Sky- God. 327

Significant, too, are the relations between St. Columcille and the oak. He built a church in the oak-grove of Derry, ' and,' says Dr. Hyde,^ ' so careful was he of his beloved oaks that, contrary to all custom, he would not build his church with its chancel towards the east, for in that case some of the oaks would have had to be felled to make room for it. He laid strict injunctions upon all his successors to spare the lovely grove, and enjoined that if any of the trees should be blown down some of them should go for fuel to their own guest-house, and the rest be given to the people.' Years afterwards he penned a poem, in which he says :

' The reason I love Derry is for its quietness, for its purity, crowded full of heaven's angels in every leaf of the oaks of Derry. My Derry, my little oak grove, my dwelling and my little cell, O Eternal God in heaven above, woe be to him who violates it.'^

Besides Derry, two other famous monasteries were founded in Ireland by St. Columcille. One was Durrow, which like Derry drew its name from the beautiful oak-groves of the neighbourhood {Dair-magh, ' Oak-plain '). The other was Kells ; and here too the saint resided under a great oak-tree, which stood for centuries and ultimately fell in a tremendous storm. According to the Irish Life of St. Cohimcille, ' a certain man took somewhat of its bark to tan his shoes with. Now, when he did on the shoes, he was smitten with leprosy from his sole to his crown.' The same authority states that on one occasion St. Columcille made a hymn to arrest a fire that was consuming the oak-wood, ' and it is sung against every fire and against every thunder from that time to this.' ^ Again, the name Columcille, ' Dove of the Church,' was not inappropriate to a saint thus intimately connected with oak-groves : it recalls the doves on the oaks of Dodona and Libya* and Brittany.^ On one occasion,

^ Hyde Literary History of Ireland p. 169. "^ Id. ib. p. 170 n. i.

'^ Id. ib. p. 170 f. ^Folk-lore xv. 295. ^ Stcpra p. 7.