Iarlaithe mac Loga
Saint Iarlaithe (Jarlath)
Ruins of Teampall Jarlath, a 13th-century parish church in Tuam, dedicated to Iarlaithe
|Died||26 December, c. 540|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
Eastern Orthodox Church
|Feast||6 June (currently)|
25 or 26 December (earlier)
|Patronage||Archdiocese of Tuam|
Saint Iarlaithe mac Loga, also known as Jarlath (fl. 6th century), was an Irish priest and scholar from Connacht, remembered as the founder of the monastic School of Tuam and of the Archdiocese of Tuam, of which he is the patron saint. No medieval Life for Iarlaithe is extant, but sources for his life and cult include genealogies, martyrologies, the Irish Lives of St Brendan of Clonfert, and a biography compiled by John Colgan in the 17th century.
The Irish genealogies record the existence of two saints named Iarlaithe: Iarlaithe son of Lugh (Iarlaithe m. Loga), founder of Tuam, and Iarlaithe son of Trian (Iarlaithe m. Trena), bishop of Armagh.
Iarlaithe of Tuam is said to have belonged to the Conmhaícne, who ruled over the greater part of what would become the parish of Tuam. The other saint is said to have belonged to the Dál Fiatach in east Ulster. He is identified as the third Bishop of Armagh, that is after Patrick's heir Benignus and the Annals of Ulster and Innisfallen record his death in the year 481.
In the two Irish Lives of St Brendan, possibly of the 12th century, Iarlaithe is called a son of Lug, son of Trén, son of Fiacc, son of Mochta, and the First Life in the Book of Lismore continues the pedigree by calling Mochta a son of Bresal, son of Siracht, son of Fiacha the Fair. Both Lives substitute Imchada for Mochta and on this basis, Séamus Mac Mathúna argues that they go back to an original which conflates the genealogy of Iarlaithe mac Loga with that of his namesake in Armagh.
Dónall Mac Giolla Easpaig suggests, that the saints could refer to one and the same person:
[...] both are given as the third bishop of Armagh [...] placename evidence from the Tuam area would tend to corroborate [this] view [...] the evidence suggests that there was a strong Patrician and, consequently, a strong Armagh influence in the Tuam area from the earliest Christian period [...] the fact that Iarlaithe was a bishop like Benignus of Kilbennan and Felartus of Donaghpatrick, would further indicate that Tuam [...] would have predated Brendan of Clonfert by almost a century.
St Brendan's Irish Lives
Iarlaithe appears briefly as a prominent figure in the medieval Irish Lives of St Brendan of Clonfert. Brendan is said to have visited Connacht to study under the famous Iarlaithe. One day, when Iarlaithe was in his old age, Brendan advised his mentor to leave the school and to depart in a newly built chariot until its two hind shafts broke, because there would be the place of his resurrection (esséirge) and that of many after him. Because Iarlaithe acknowledged the divinity and superior wisdom of his pupil, saying "take me into thy service for ever and ever", he gladly accepted his advice. His travel did not take him very far, as the shafts broke at Tuaim da Ghualann ("Mound of two shoulders"), that is, at Tuam.
Iarlaithe died, "full of days", on 26 December, circa 540, aged about 90 years old.
Tuam achieved the status of the principal see of Connacht only in 1152 at the Synod of Kells-Mellifont, while Annaghdown became an independent diocesan seat at the Synod of Dublin in 1192. In this light, the assertion in the Lives has been read as reflecting circumstances in the 12th century.
Foundation of Tuam
Afterwards, he founded his first monastery at Cluainfois (Cloonfush), near Tuam, while his principal seat came to be at Tuam. His monastic school is said to have attracted scholars from all parts of Ireland, including such students as St Brendan of Ardfert and Saint Colman of Cloyne. On the significance of the place-name Tuam, Dónall Mac Giolla Easpaig posits:
"[t]he first element in the placename Tuaim Dá Ualann/Ghualann referred to a pagan burial-ground similar to that designated by the second element of Cluain Fearta (see Clonfert). If so Tuam offers another example of an early church being built on or near a pre-Christian sacred site."
Despite his fame, Iarlaithe left Cloonfush to study under Saint Enda of Aran around 495. In the 520s, he retired to Tuam. He chose Tuam because the wheel of his chariot broke there. Iarlaithe is included in the second order of Irish saints, which implies that he must have lived prior to the year 540.
A poem ascribed to Cuimmín of Coindeire, which is also cited in Ó Cléirigh's Martyrology of Donegal, states that Iarlaithe was known for his generosity and devotion to prayer ("three hundred genuflexions every night, and three hundred genuflexions every day"). In the Martyrology of Donegal, he is credited with having predicted the names of his successors, including those of three 'heretical' bishops and one Máel. Similarly, his hagiography in the "Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church" records that as a result of his great asceticism and devotion to prayer he was granted the gift of prophecy.
Saint Jarlath's feast day is 6 June, which is the date of the translation of his relics to a church specially built in his honour next to the Cathedral of Tuam. His remains were encased in a silver shrine, from which the 13th-century church gained the name Teampul na scrín, that is the "church of the shrine", a perpetual vicarage united to the prebend of Kilmainemore in 1415. In a note added to the Félire Óengusso and in other martyrologies, Iarlaithe's feast-day is recorded as 25 or 26 December.
Jarlath in the 21st century
The first St. Jarlath's Festival in Tuam, organised by the Energise Tuam community group, was organised for Saturday 7 June 2008. This included a pageant/parade from Tuam Cathedral through the streets of the town, a school's art competition to raise awareness of the saint and local cultural heritage, and street entertainment.
St Jarlath's broken wheel is a heraldic symbol of Tuam, and is included on the crest of many local organisations, including Tuam Town Council.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint Jarlath.|
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| Abbot of Tuam
c. 520? - c.540
Nuada ua Bolcain
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