Colman mac Duach and Guaire

Author: J. G. O’Keeffe

An electronic edition

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p. 45.


Colman mac Duach, from whom Kilmacduach is named,
went into a wilderness in the Burren of Connacht, and a single
clerk with him, in the time of Guaire of Aidne. They took
with them a cooking-pan and an axe. Seven years they were
in the wilderness without getting a meal of food from anyone,
without converse with anyone. They had a church and a
refectory in the forest. For clothing they had the skins of wild
beasts; and they fared on watercress, water, and the herbs of the
forest. The clerk was erenagh, vice-abbot, steward, and cook in
the refectory.

Said Colman on Easter Sunday after mass: ‘It is meet to
perform the proper service to-day. Easter it is, and all the
ordained are in the church, that is to say, myself and the erenagh,
the bishop and the priest. All other funtions, however, are
yours. It behoves us to perform the service well in your
presence. It behoves you to serve us well on this day of Jesus
Christ, Son of the living God.’

‘You will be well served, O cleric,’ said the clerk. ‘Let you
perform the service properly; and as soon as that is done we will
proceed before you to the refectory. There is good cheer therein;
and it is not right to conceal it from the ordained, that is, from
you, my companions. Food has come to me in the refectory;
and I have boiled it with herbs of the forest, so that is a savoury
dish, and it will be ready before you.’

The sermon is delivered, the mass is performed diligently,
the mid-day service is over, and they go to the refectory.

‘It is time, in God’s name, for you to take food (?),’ said the

‘It is permitted,’ said he [Colman].

‘I will give it.’

The food was then brought to him.

At the same time Guaire was given his ration in Derlus.
Great, verily, was his ration, namely, “the bowl of Guaire”. A
pig and a bull-calf were put into it; four rings were on it and
two shafts under it to carry it along before him, so that all
should get their share.

p. 47.

Said Guaire: ‘I should be thankful to Christ if there were
one who [is wont] to satisfy the hunger of a man of God to
eat it, for an equivalent would be got for me.’

Thereupon the cup moves from them into the yard; two
angels around it [bore it] through the plain of Aidne westward,
until it was deposited in front of Colman mac Duach in his

‘Well,’ said the clerk, ‘here is the reward of thy abstinence;
eat therefore what God has sent thee.’

‘Not so,’ said he, ‘until we know from whom it has come’;
and then looking at the bowl, he said:

‘O little bowl,
What brought thee over Luaine?’

(That is, over the wood, viz., Luaine is the name of the wood.)

‘The prayer thou makest for it,’ said the angel, ‘has brought
it, and the liberality of Guaire.’

Just then Guaire came in.

‘It has reached you, O cleric,’ said Guaire.

‘Perchance it is God who has sent it,’ said Colman.

‘How long have ye been here, ye clerics?’ said Guaire.

‘Forty nights have we been here and seven years.’

‘It is time for ye to eat what God has sent ye.’

‘Who is addressing us?’ said Colman; ‘is it Guaire?’

‘It is; and it is from him the food was sent, and ye are at
liberty to eat it; and here is my body and my soul to you and
to God and my seed and race till Doom.’

‘Well,’ said the cleric, ‘may God reward you for it.’

On the morrow they are taken to Derlus, and three score
milch cows with their milkers and their cow-boys are brought to
them, so that they were in front of the refectory.

So that in that place was built the church of Mac Duach, to
which all Aidne and the offspring of Guaire, son of Colman,
belong till Doom.

© 2006 Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae

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