Rahan, County Offaly
Rahan (Irish: Raithean) is a parish/village, associated with Mochuda (also known as St. Carthage), which is located on the banks of the river Clodagh approximately 5 miles from Tullamore, in County Offaly, Ireland.
St. Mochuda, or Carthage founded his monastery in Rahan in 595.
Although Carthage himself left the area with a large number of monks in 636 after being expelled by Blathmaic, a Meathian prince,over water rights from the local river, the monastery he established remained in existence and went on to become a significant centre for religious learning. Over 800 monks once lived there. St. Carthage relocated to Lismore, County Waterford where he established another monastery which went on to become a major university and important religious centre educating Monks which brought Christianity to much of Europe. St Declan being one. He is still venerated in Rahan as Patron Saint and also in Lismore as the Patron Saint of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore. His feast day is May 14th.
The original wooden churches were replaced with stone buildings. Some of these buildings survive to this day.The Ancient Churches can be seen alongside the Cemetery for Rahan Parish in what is referred to locally as Churchland. There is a Protestant and Catholic cemetery located here. Mass is celebrated once a year on Cemetery Sunday August 15th. The remains of one of the churches is in the corner of the catholic cemetery.You can see the remains of another further in the field. No works are permitted in this historic site leading to the absence of a proper road into the cemetery. Access can be gained through a farm gate although visitors may be aware of the responsibility to close this gate after them and also to be aware of animals in the area surrounding the ancient churches and cemetery. Pay particular attention to the rose window on the east facing end of the Church of Ireland. and a visit down to the church further down in the field is highly recommended.
The remains of church buildings, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries, can be seen near the river bridge in the centre of Rahan. The Church which can be seen from the road was taken over by the Church of Ireland at some time after the Penal Laws outlawing the practice of Roman Catholic faith were enacted in Ireland, and is occasionally used today. A mass rock (where mass was said while the Penal Laws were in effect)can be found near the Present Catholic Church in the Killina townland, approximately one mile southeast of the ancient churches.
Rahan also has a long association with the Jesuit community who founded a seminary there in the early 19th century (1818) and with the Presentation Sisters who founded a convent and school in the early 19th century (1818 also), both Convent and School have survived to this day. The Presentation Mission to India went out from here in the past.
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