|Saint Dallan Forgail|
Saint Dallan Forghaill
Magh Slécht, County Cavan, Ireland
monastery of Inniskeel, Donegal
|Honored in||Roman Catholic Church|
Saint Dallán Forgaill (ca. 530–598), also known as Dallán Forchella, Dallán of Cluain Dalláin, and born Eochaid Forchella, was an early Christian Irish poet, best known as the writer of the Amra Choluim Chille ("Eulogy of Saint Columba") and the early Irish poem Rop tú mo baile, the basis of the modern English hymn Be Thou My Vision.
Dallán Forgaill's given name was Eochaid, and his mother was called Forchella. He was the son of Colla, a descendant of the legendary High King Colla Uais. His nickname, Dallán ("little blind one"), was earned after he lost his sight, reputedly as a result of studying intensively.
He was born in Maigen (now Ballyconnell), at the eastern edge of the territory of the Masraige of Magh Slécht in modern County Cavan. He was not a member of the Masraige but belonged to a branch of the Airgíalla called the Fir Lurg, who were in the process of spreading southwards into Fermanagh and Cavan. (The barony of Lurg in County Fermanagh was named after them) His was a first cousin of Saint Mogue and was a fourth cousin of Saint Tigernach of Clones.
He died in 598 when pirates broke into the island monastery of Inniskeel, County Donegal, where he is buried. He was reportedly beheaded, and it is also said that God reattached his head to his body after he was martyred. He was acclaimed a saint in the early 11th century, during the reign of the High King Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill. A medieval poem entitled "On the breaking up of a School" composed by Tadhg Og O Huiginn, c.1400, refers to the death of Dallán which caused his school to break up and the students to disperse as they would accept no other master. In a list of ancient Irish authors contained in the Book of Ballymote, Dallán is called “grandson of testimony”.
He is best known for eulogies attributed to him on the subject of contemporaneous Irish saints, namely the Amra Choluim Chille and Fo réir Coluim cén ad-fías on Saint Columba, Amra Senain on Saint Senan, and Amra Connaill on Saint Connall. These poems, rarely translated, were written in such obscure language that subsequent scribes included copious glosses on the poems. The best example of this is the Amra Choluim Chille, wherein the glosses contain poems in themselves, some of which deal with the Fenian Cycle. He reputedly wrote Amra Choluim Chille, which he completed shortly after the death of Saint Columba in 597, because Columba had successfully saved poets from expulsion from Ireland at the assembly of Druim Cett in 575. The “Amra Choluim Chille,” is the earliest Irish poem that can be dated.
Dallan also wrote an Ode To Dubh-Ghiolla, The Shield Of Aodh
The early Irish poem Rop tú mo baile, the basis of the modern English hymn Be Thou My Vision, is also sometimes attributed to him.
Dubhthach moccu Lughair
|Chief Ollam of Ireland
- According to the Life of St Dallán in the Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae
- Dictionary of the Irish Language, compact edition, Royal Irish Academy p. 178
- T. M. Charles-Edwards, ‘Dallán Forgaill (fl. 597)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 27 June 2009
- “Dallàn's death and burial" on page 37 of 'The Bodleian Amra Choluimb Chille' in Revue Celtique. Vol. 21 (Paris 1900), pp. 133-136.
- Studies Journal, Volume XXV (1924). Edited by Osborn Bergin.
- Book of Ballymote, p. 308, 26, "Dallán hua Forgaill in fil ut .i. Dallan mac Alla meic Eirc, meic Feradaigh gan tinii ardollam Erenn gan on, is e ro mol Cohan cille." ('Dallán son of Alla son of Erc son of Feradach without fear, Chief Ollam of Ireland without disgrace, it is he that praised Columba.')
- J. O'Beirne Crowe, The Amra Coluim Cilli of Dallan Forgaill, Dublin, 1871
- according to Geoffrey Keating's History of Ireland
- Moody, TW & Martin, FX (eds) (1967). The Course of Irish History. Cork, Ireland: The Mercier Press. p. 60.
- Donoghue, Denis. "The Luck of the Irish", The New York Review of Books