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E06131: Tírechán's Collection records diverse baptisms, ordinations, ecclesiastical foundations and miracles of *Patrick (missionary and bishop of Ireland, 5th c., S01962). Written in Latin in Ireland, probably shortly after c. 668. Overview entry

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posted on 2018-08-18, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Tírechán, Collection (BHL 6496)


The work as it survives has no title, only the heading: 'Bishop Tírechán has written this, based on the words and the book (ex ore uel libro) of Ultán, whose fosterling and pupil he was.'

(1.) On Patrick's four names, according to the book of Bishop Ultán of Connor: Magonus, Succetus, Patricius and Cothirthiacus; his seven years of solitude; his visitation by the angel Victor; his journeys, after his release from captivity, through Gaul, Italy and the Tyrrhenian Sea; his thirty years on the island of Aralenensis [Lérins?]

(2.) His death 433 years after Christ's passion.

[Book one: Patrick's deeds in the territory of the Uí Néill]

(3.) His journey to the islands of Moccu Chor 'with his Gauls,' and the ordinations he performed there.

(4.) His landing at Mag Breg.

(5.) His first church in the valley of Sescán, and baptism of the boy Benignus, his successor as bishop at Armagh.

(6-7.) On the bishops and lesser clergy ordained by Patrick.

(8.) On the churches he founded at Mag Breg, and his miraculous confrontation with the druids (magi) Cruth and Lochlethlanu.

(9.) How he cursed Coirpriticus son of Níall; (10.) and baptised Conall son of Níall, where the Great Church of Patrick now stands (Aeclessia Patricii Magna).

(11.) The church he founded at Ford of the Mill.

(12.) His visit to Loíguire son of Níall in the city of Tara.

(13.) The church he founded at Carrac Dagri, and his baptism of many thousands.

(14.) His baptism of Conall, to whom Bishop Cethiachus later entrusted his monastery.

(15.) How Énde offered Patrick his son and inheritance.

(16.) More churches founded, and bishops ordained, by Patrick, including that at the Moat of Dallbronach, held by Bishop Mac Cairthin, the uncle of Saint *Brigit [abbess of Kildare, ob. c. 525, S01885]; at Carmell's Head in Mag Teloch, where the same saint was veiled; and at Mag Réin, where he founded a church for Bruscus, who after he died arranged the translation of his own body (see $S07407).

(17.) How Patrick sent Nie Brain, who made prophecies, to the Moat of Slecht; and how his charioteer was buried in what is now called Boidmall's Wood, which was given to Patrick.

[Book two: Patrick's deeds in Connacht]

(18.) Tírechán remarks how his 'heart... is filled with the (sorrowing) love for Patrick, because I see deserters and arch-robbers and war-lords of Ireland hate Patrick's territorial supremacy, because they have taken away from him what was his and are afraid'; he states that 'God gave him the whole island with its people through an angel of the Lord ... all the primitive churches of Ireland are his.'

(19.) How Patrick crossed the river Shannon, and fasted and prayed to banish the 'magical evil' (magica tenebrarum) of the magi Máel and Capitolauium from Mag Aí.

(20.) The church he established at Mag Glais called Cell Mór, where he installed his monks, the barbari Conleng and Ercleng.

(21.) The magus Hono who received Patrick as a guest, and to whom he prophesied priests and abbots as descendants.

(22.) On Bishop Assicus, a coppersmith and monk of Patrick, whose bones lie at Mag Sereth in Ráith Cungi.

(23.) The church he founded at Mound of the Uí Ailello called Senchell Dumiche, where he installed the 'holy men' Macet and Cetgen and the priest Rodanus.

(24.) How he and Rodanus veiled Benignus' sister Mathona, who came on 'pilgrimage' to visit him; how Mathona established a 'free church' at Tamnach; the oath of friendship she swore with Rodanus's successor at his relics (see $E06253).

(25.) How bishops consecrated by Patrick installed bishops at Tamnach - yet now 'the community of Clonmacnoise claims them, as they hold forcibly many of Patrick's places since the recent plague.'

(26.) How Patrick converted and baptised Ethne and Fedelm, the daughters of King Loíguire and the magi Caplit and Máel at Clébach; and how he built a church over the graves of the daughters, who died after their first communion (see $E06254).

(27.) How he founded a church at Ard Licce called Sedomnach, and installed his monk Coimanus there; and how he installed the monk Laloca at Ard Senlis.

(28.) How he left the deacon Justus, 'little more than a small boy' (puer pusillus) at Fidarte in the region of the Uí Maini.

(29.) How the 'Franks of Patrick' (Franci... Patricii) left him; among whom were Bishop Bernicius and Ernicius and their sister Nitria, who were given many places, including 'the Basilica of the Saints' (Bassilica Sanctorum).

(30.) Patrick's journey to Selc, with many bishops; and the church he established at Loch Selcae.

(31.) The church he founded in Drummae, where he dug a miraculous well.

(32.) His miraculous intervention in a property dispute at Drummut Cérrigi, and the church he founded there.

(33.) The church he founded at Nairni; and how Medbu visited him there, who was later ordained deacon at Armagh.

(34.) The cell he founded at Senes, at the well called Mucno.

(35.) The quadrangular churches he established in the territory of Conmaicne.

(36.) His journey to Mag Foimsen, where he installed the priest Conán.

(37.) How at Ached Fobuir he veiled a maiden (sancta filia), ordained her brother Senachus as bishop, and consecrated a church there.

(38.) How he fasted for 40 days and nights at Cruachán Aigli, and established a church at Mag Humail.

(39.) How he baptised thousands and founded three churches at the well of Sine; and how he showed how the well of Sian, which the pagans worshipped, only held water.

(40.) How in Dichuil he raised a giant from the dead and baptised him.

(41.) How at Findmag he spoke to a dead pagan, and moved the cross accidentally placed over his grave to that of a Christian.

(42) How he crossed the river Moy, and cursed and killed the chief magus Recrad; and how he founded a church in the Wood of Fochloth, where the 'holy bones' of Bishop Mucnoe now lie (see $E06255).

(43.) How he baptised the seven sons of Mace Dregin, and veiled two nuns, for whom he blessed a place at the Wood of Fochloth.

(44.) How he built a clay church at Foirrgea; and baptised in the womb the unborn child of a dying woman; and built a church at Ros mace Caitni, where she was buried.

(45.) The stone cross he raised at Bartagh; the church he founded beside the Moat of Rigbart; and how he gave a tooth that fell out of his mouth to his companion Brón 'as a relic' (in reliquias).

(46.) His foundations at Tamnach, Echenach, Cell Angle, Cell Senchuae, Druim Léas, Domnach Ailmage and Mag Aine; and how he cursed the rivers Dub, Oengae and Séle, and blessed the river Drowes.

(47.) His foundations at Ráith Argi, Mag Latrain, Sirdruimm, and Mag Tóchui.

(48.) How he built seven churches at Dul Ocheni; and monastic cells at Eilne; and how he sat on a rock in Dún Sobairche, now called 'Patrick's Rock' (petra Patricii); and how he gave relics of Peter and Paul to Bishop Olcanus (see $E06256).

(49.) Of the vision of the magus Miliucc.

(50.) Patrick's footprint at Slíab Scirte, where he saw an angel of the Lord and 'went up to heaven' (ascendisset in caelum); and his foundation at Maugdornai of a great church, and consecration of Bishop Victoricus.

(50.) The churches he built beside Bile Torten, and in eastern Tortiu; the 'House of the Martyrs' (Domum Martirum) he established at Druimm Hurchaille; the churches he founded at Mag Lifi and Roigne; and further ordinations.

Text and Translation: Bieler 1979. Summary: B. Savill.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Patrick, missionary and bishop of Ireland, 5th c. : S01962 Brigit, abbess of Kildare (Ireland), ob. c. 525 : S01885 Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060 Saints, unnamed : S00518

Saint Name in Source

Patricius Brigta martires

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-related texts Literary - Hagiographical - Monastic collections (apophthegmata, etc.)


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Britain and Ireland

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

St Albans St Albans Verulamium

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Other

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future) Power over elements (fire, earthquakes, floods, weather) Juridical interventions Power over life and death Assumption/otherworldly journey

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Angels Monarchs and their family Aristocrats Relatives of the saint Pagans Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Women

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Bodily relic - entire body Bodily relic - bones and teeth Contact relic - other


Tírechán’s now-untitled account of Patrick’s life (Collectanea is a modern editor’s invention) survives in only one 9th century Irish manuscript, the Book of Armagh (Trinity College Dublin Ms 52), where it almost immediately follows Muirchú’s Life of the same saint (E06132). The text as we have it is probably incomplete or unfinished, and its division into two books may not be Tírechán’s own. We are told that Tírechán was a bishop, although not where he held his see. His naming of Ultán of Connor (bishop of Ardbraccan, ob. c. 655) as both his source and mentor would seem to date the work to the second half of the 7th century, while his reference to a recent plague (ch. 25) suggests a terminus post quem of 664-8, although there were further outbreaks in 680 and 700. Bieler suggested in his edition of 1979 that there was no clear indication as to whether Tírechán wrote before or after Muirchú, but ‘there is now a general agreement’ (Sharpe, 1991) that the Collectanea is the earlier work, probably composed not long after the devastations of the 664-8 epidemic.


The Collectanea as it survives recounts little in terms of biographical narrative, and ‘can hardly be regarded as a true uita’ (Sharpe 1991): what we have instead is ‘virtually an enumeration of the [purported] ecclesiastical foundations of Patrick with a description of the circumstances in which each was founded’ (Bury, 1902). It seems clear that Tírechán’s main aim was to assert the ecclesiastical supremacy of Patrick’s successors in his own day, by linking the churches they claimed to the saint himself in a bygone golden age. This has generally been read as relating foremost to the claims of Armagh (in the north-east of Ireland), although Swift (1994) has noted that Tírechán’s references to the pre-eminence of that specific see are in fact limited. Alongside Adomnàn's Life of Columba (E06056) and Cogitosus' Life of Brigit (E06130), the Patrician texts of Tírechán and Muirchú are among the only four Irish Latin Lives securely datable to the period before 700 (on this group, see Sharpe, 1991, 8-19). As with the Book of the Angel (E06933), also from the Book of Armagh, these Patrician texts are the only works of that group to speak explicitly of corporeal relics, although they make no clear references to their veneration, nor to any miracles worked through them.


Edition and translation: Bieler, L., The Patrician Texts of the Book of Armagh (Scriptores Latini Hiberniae 10; Dublin, 1979), 122-67. Further reading: Bury, J.B., "Tírechán’s Memoir of St Patrick," English Historical Review 17 (1902), 235-67. MacNeill, E., "The Earliest Lives of St Patrick," Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 58 (1928), 1-21. Sharpe, R., "St Patrick and the See of Armagh," Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 4 (1982), 33-59. Sharpe, R., Medieval Irish Saints’ Lives: An Introduction to Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae (Oxford, 1991). Swift, C., "Tírechán’s Motives in Compiling the “Collectanea”: An Alternative Interpretation," Ériu 45 (1994), 53-82.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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