Dallán Forgaill

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Saint Dallán Forgaill
DallanForghaill.jpg
Born c. 530
Magh Slécht, County Cavan, Ireland
Died 598
Inniskeel, County Donegal, Ireland
Venerated in Catholic Church (Roman Rite)
Feast 29 January

Eochaid mac Colla (c. 530 – 598), better known as Saint Dallán or Dallán Forgaill (Old Irish: Dallán Forchella; Latin: Dallanus Forcellius), was an early Christian Irish poet known as the writer of the "Amra Choluim Chille" ("Elegy of Saint Columba") and, traditionally, "Rop Tú Mo Baile"[1]("Be Thou My Vision").

Personal history[edit]

Saint Dallan's given name was Eochaidh (Old Irish: Eochaid); his father was Colla, a descendant of the legendary High King Colla Uais, and his mother was Forgall (Old Irish: Forchella).[2] His nickname, Dallán ("little blind one"), was earned after he lost his sight,[3] 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)[4] His was a first cousin of Saint Mogue. (The Life of Máedóc of Ferns says in ch. 72 that Dallán and Máedóc were sons of two brothers.)[5] He was also a fourth cousin of Tigernach of Clones, and a kinsman of Saint Edan of Ferns.[6]

The "Amhra Coluim Cille", a panegyric on Columba, written shortly after Columba's death in 597, is his best known work[7] and considered "one of the most important poems we have from the early medieval Gaelic world".[5] It is reported that after completing the work, Dallan regained his sight. It was claimed that those who recited the praises of Columba from memory would receive the gift of a happy death,[8] a custom that was widely abused by those who attempted to rely on their memory rather than a virtuous life.[9] The "Amhra Coluim Cille" became a popular text for students in Irish monasteries.

The "Amra Senáin",[10] a funeral oration in praise of Senán of Iniscattery, was said to preserve from blindness those who recited it with devotion.[9]

In 598 Dallan was visiting his friend Saint Conall Cael at his monastery on Inishkeel when pirates raided the island monastery. Dallan was reportedly beheaded, and it is said that God reattached his head to his body after he was martyred.[11] He was buried on Iniskeel; his friend Canall Cael was later laid to rest in the same grave.[9]

He was acclaimed a saint in the early 11th century, during the reign of the High King Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill but was already listed as a saint in the earlier 9th century martyrologies compiled by Óengus of Tallaght.[4] 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.[12] In a list of ancient Irish authors contained in the Book of Ballymote, Dallán is called “grandson of testimony”.[13]

Works[edit]

Saint Dallan was a poet, Chief Ollam of Ireland, as well as a scholar of Latin scriptural learning.[4][14] He helped to reform the Bardic Order at the Convention of Drumceat.[15]

In addition to Amra Choluim Chille and Amra Senáin, the following works are attributed to Dallán, although some may be later works by other poets who credited Dallan with authorship in order to make their poems more famous.

1. Amra Conall Coel - in praise of St. Conall Coel, abbot of Iniskeel

2. Dubgilla dub-airm n-aisse[16]

3. Fo réir Coluim cén ad-fías[17]

4. Conn cet cathach a righi (This is the final poem in the tale "Aírne Fíngein")[18]

5. Rop tú mo baile[19]

Preceded by
Dubhthach moccu Lughair
Chief Ollam of Ireland
?–598
Succeeded by
Senchán Torpéist

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Be Thou My Vision", Hymntime
  2. ^ According to the Life of St Dallán in the Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae
  3. ^ Dictionary of the Irish Language, compact edition, Royal Irish Academy p. 178
  4. ^ a b c T. M. Charles-Edwards, ‘Dallán Forgaill (fl. 597)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 27 June 2009
  5. ^ a b "Dallan Forgaill M. Eirc", Saints in Scottish Place-Names, Leverhulme Trust Project
  6. ^ Monks of Ramsgate. “Dallan Forgaill”. Book of Saints, 1921
  7. ^ "Amra Choluim Chille", Codecs
  8. ^ Crowe, John O'Beirne. The Amra Choluim Chilli of Dallan Forgaill, McGlashan and Gill, 1871
  9. ^ a b c O'Donnell, Patrick. Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol. 8 (1887), pp.781-794
  10. ^ "Amra Senáin", Codecs
  11. ^ “Dallàn's death and burial" on page 37 of 'The Bodleian Amra Choluimb Chille' in Revue Celtique. Vol. 21 (Paris 1900), pp. 133-136.
  12. ^ Studies Journal, Volume XXV (1924). Edited by Osborn Bergin.
  13. ^ 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.')
  14. ^ J. O'Beirne Crowe, The Amra Coluim Cilli of Dallan Forgaill, Dublin, 1871
  15. ^ according to Geoffrey Keating's History of Ireland
  16. ^ "Dinnshenchas of Lumman Tige Srafáin", Codecs
  17. ^ "Fo réir Coluim cén ad-fías", Codecs
  18. ^ "Fo réir Coluim cén ad-fías", Codecs
  19. ^ http://www.vanhamel.nl/codecs/Rop_tú_mo_baile

External links[edit]