Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Betha Féchín Fabair (Author: Nicol Óg, son of the abbot of Cong)


The Life of St Féchín of Fore

The following Life of St Féchin of Fore is now for the first time published from the unique copy in the Phillips Library, Cheltenham, No. 9194, which is dated 1329. No other Irish Life of Féchín is now known; but in the seventeenth century Colgan had three, one taken from the Book of Imaidh in Connaught: another ‘stylo planè vetusto et magnae fidei’, but wanting the beginning and end: a third ‘vetusto et eleganti metro, 74 distichis constante, in quorum paenè singulis singula narrantur miracula.’ Besides these three Irish Lives, he had a Latin Life by Augustin Magraidin, a canon regular of the monastery of Inis na Naemh in the county of Longford. This Life Colgan has printed in the Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae, Lovanii, 1645, pp. 130–133. It is followed in the same work, pp. 133–139, by a second Life —alia Vita seu Supplementum— in Colgan's own Latin, compiled from the three Irish Lives in his possession. From Colgan is derived all that Lanigan has written about St Féchin in his Ecclesiastical History of Ireland.

The following text represents the manuscript except in the following particulars: words have been divided from the article and other proclitics: the paragraphs have been numbered: marks of punctuation have been introduced: proper names have been spelt with initial capitals: contractions have been extended, the extensions being printed in italics; and lastly, eight sets of quatrains (41 in all) have been omitted, as they merely repeat what has been already told in prose.


Féchin or Féchine ‘corvulus’ was also called Mo-ecca, under which name he is commemorated in the Calendar of Oengus at Jan. 20.1 His pedigree is thus given in the Book of Leinster, p. 352, col. 7: ‘Fechine Fabair Mac Cailchiarna, Maic Cillini, Maic Grillini Cillini, Maic Cail, Maic Aeda, Maic Saim, Maic Airt Chirb, Maic Niad Corb.’ He died, according to the Annals of Ulster and the Four Masters, in the year 664 of the Yellow Plague, a pestilence said to have been brought on the Irish by the pitiless prayers of himself and other saints. His Life now printed is noticeable as to its form for the alliterative exordium and for the repetition in verse of the narratives already told in prose.2 As to its substance, the stories of the leper, paragraphs 37, 38, and the drowned children, paragraph 43, and the incident of the water-horse, paragraphs 41, 42, will interest students of hagiology and folklore.

I will only add an alphabetical list of the rarer words in the following Life:

  1. absoluid absolution 8,
  2. aisicim I restore, s-pret. sg. 3 asiges, 21,
  3. bronn-ór gift-gold, 48,
  4. bronnseng slenderbellied 1,
  5. caraiste carriage 46,
  6. coltur coulter 40,
  7. combuaidrim I disturb 43,
  8. comchinél joint-kindred 46,
  9. comcungnad co-operation 37,
  10. cruimlinn ale-liquor 31,
  11. cumann fellowship 31,
  12. cumthanus assistance 31,
  13. duib-gréim dark profit 31,
  14. erlainn (erlann?) a green or lawn 41, 43,
  15. facbála nóib a saint's leavings, i. e. his curse or his blessing3, 41, 42,
  16. faris along with him 22 (see Revue Celtique, tome 8, p. 360, lines 9–17),
  17. greslebrach having illuminated books? 1,
  18. gribda active? 1,
  19. imain playing hurly 43,
  20. laemda radiant? 2,
  21. macnus wantonness 37,
  22. pairilis palsy 25,
  23. rogu choice, sg. acc. rogain 39,
  24. selbathóir owner 34,
  25. taidbrim I behold 18,
  26. terlam ready 39,
  27. tritach triadic? 27.

Whitley Stokes.
London, 13 September 1890.