Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Life of St. Declan of Ardmore (Author: Patrick Power)

chapter 30

One night Declan was a guest at the house of a wealthy man who dwelt in the southern part of Magh Femhin; this is the kind of person his host was, scil.:—a pagan who rejected the true faith, and his name was Dercan. He resolved to amuse himself at the Christians' expense; accordingly he ordered his servants to kill a dog secretly, to cut off its head and feet and to bury them in the earth and then to cook the flesh properly and to set it before Declan and his company as their meal. Moreover he directed that the dog should be so fat that his flesh might pass as mutton. When, in due course, it was cooked, the flesh, together with bread and other food, was laid before Declan and his following. At that moment Declan had fallen asleep but he was aroused by his disciples that


he might bless their meal. He observed to them:—‘Indeed I see, connected with this meat, the ministry of the devil.’ Whereupon he questioned the waiters as to the meat—what kind it was and whence procured. They replied: ‘Our master ordered us to kill a fat ram for you and we have done as he commanded.’ Declan said, ‘Our Master is Jesus Christ and may He show us what it is that connects the ministry of Satan with this meat and preserve thy servants from eating forbidden food.’ As he spoke thus Declan saw in the meat the claw of a dog, for, without intending it, they had boiled one quarter of the dog with its paw adhering; they thought they had buried it (the incriminating limb) with the other paws. Declan exclaimed, ‘This is not a sheep's but a dog's foot.’ When the attendants heard this they went at once to their master and related the matter to him. Then Dercan came to Declan, accepted his faith and received Baptism at his hands, giving himself and his posterity to Declan for ever. Moreover he gave his homestead to Declan and his people were baptised. After this Dercan requested that Declan should bless something in his homestead which might remain as a memorial of him (Dercan) for ever. Then Declan blessed a bell which he perceived there and its name is Clog-Dhercain ('Dercan's Bell'); moreover, he declared: ‘I endow it with this virtue (power) that if the king of Decies march around it when going to battle, against his enemies, or to punish violation of his rights, he shall return safely and with victory.’ This promise has been frequently fulfilled, but proud (men) undertaking battle or conflict unjustly even if they march around it do not obtain victory but success remains with the enemy. The name of that homestead was Teach-Dhercain ('Dercain's House') and its name now is Coningean, from the claw of the hound or dog aforesaid. To this place came the saintly concourse, scil:—Coman and Ultan, MacErc


and Mocoba and Maclaisren, who dedicated themselves to (the service of) God and placed themselves under the spiritual rule and sway of Declan.