Eochaid mac Colla (c. 560 – 640), better known as Saint Dallán or Dallán Forgaill (Old Irish: Dallán Forchella; Latin: Dallanus Forcellius; Primitive Irish: Dallagnas Worgēllas), was an early Christian Irish poet and saint known as the writer of the "Amra Coluim Chille" ("Elegy of Saint Columba") and, traditionally, "Rop Tú Mo Baile"[1] ("Be Thou My Vision").

Saint Dallán Forgaill
Bornc. 560
Magh Slécht, County Cavan, Ireland
Diedc. 640
Inniskeel, County Donegal, Ireland
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast29 January

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 the north-west of 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 modern-day County Fermanagh and County Cavan. (The Barony of Lurg in the north of County Fermanagh was named after them.)[4] He 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 and he lived in Kildallan townland.)[5] He was also a fourth cousin of Tigernach of Clones.[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 mac Geirrcinn (Senán of Iniscattery), was said to preserve from blindness those who recited it with devotion.[9]

In c.640 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 of Ireland 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 Inishkeel

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

3. Fo réir Coluim cén ad-fías[17][18]

4. Conn cet cathach a righi (This is the final poem in the tale "Aírne Fíngein")[19]

5. Rop tú mo baile[20]

6. Comaillfithir d'Éirinn ídail dar a hora[21]

Churches Edit

Although he was not a priest, Dallán founded several churches throughout Ireland, such as Kildallan in County Cavan, Disert, Tullyhunco in County Cavan, Kildallan, Westmeath, Burnchurch in County Kilkenny, Killallon in County Meath, Clonallan in County Down and Tullygallan in County Donegal. He probably did this out of his friendship for the clergy and perhaps to ensure Masses for his soul. Because of this he was known as Forgaill Cille in medieval texts, meaning 'Forgaill of the Churches'.

Preceded by Chief Ollam of Ireland
Succeeded by

References Edit

  1. ^ "Be Thou My Vision". www.hymntime.com.
  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 "Saints in Scottish Place-Names - Dallán Forgaill m. Eirc". saintsplaces.gla.ac.uk.
  6. ^ "Book of Saints – Dallan Forgaill". 22 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Amra Choluim Chille • CODECS: Online Database and e-Resources for Celtic Studies". www.vanhamel.nl.
  8. ^ Forgaill, Saint Dallan; Crowe, John O'Beirne (11 April 1871). The Amra Choluim Chilli of Dallan Forgaill. McGlashan and Gill – via Google Books.
  9. ^ a b c O'Donnell, Patrick. Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol. 8 (1887), pp.781-794
  10. ^ "Amra Senáin • CODECS: Online Database and e-Resources for Celtic Studies". www.vanhamel.nl.
  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: Online Database and e-Resources for Celtic Studies". www.vanhamel.nl.
  17. ^ "Fo réir Coluim cén ad-fías • CODECS: Online Database and e-Resources for Celtic Studies". www.vanhamel.nl.
  18. ^ Kelly, Fergus (1973). "A Poem in Praise of Columb Cille". Ériu. 24: 1–34. JSTOR 30007347.
  19. ^ "Airne Fíngein • CODECS: Online Database and e-Resources for Celtic Studies". www.vanhamel.nl.
  20. ^ "Rop tú mo baile • CODECS: Online Database and e-Resources for Celtic Studies". www.vanhamel.nl.
  21. ^ "Prophezeiung böser Zeiten". celt.ucc.ie.

External links Edit