Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
The Miracles of Senan (Author: Charles Plummer)


chapter 1

{editor's section 1}

Here are a few of the stories relating to Senan, the noble eminent high saint, who wrought these great and evident wonders, and excellent miracles, the man who had bare boats without hides, plying backwards and forwards across the sea; who planted his bachall between the cows and the yearlings, so that neither cow nor yearling saw each other; before whom the full tide ebbed, and came to the full again, as he was taking his father's cattle with him. And the ox which the wolves ate that night; the blame of it was laid to him. Afterwards a stag would come from the mountain to the plough and to the ploughtackle, through the grace of this son, and would get into the tackle of itself, and would plough like any ox, .

{editor's section 2}

Good was the grace of this son, Senan; for there were ten, and seven scores of psalm-singing elders, folk of the yoke of ascetism, and of the true family of God, around his table every night, as this verse shows:

    1. 'Seven score psalm — singing elders
      In his household with great courses,
      Without ploughing, without reaping, without drying,
      Without any activity except study'.


That was the number in his reflectory at the time of refection every night, besides the attendants and servants in the island itself; while his noble guest houses at Kilrush were satisfying the needs of poor and naked, hale and sick, by night and day . And a loaf with its kitchen was given into the hand of every man, and protection, if required, for a whole year, and full escort afterwards. And though he (the refugee) went but the length of nine furrows beyond the mound of the termon, and then turned back to the same house, he would receive the same tendance.

Now during Senan's time that house answered for all this great expense, and Senan left this blessing on each succeeding coarb, on condition of his maintaining his hospitality. And this is the last charge that he gave, when he went to heaven, that his congregation and his hospitality should be maintained, as this verse shows:

    1. Maintain my poor and my guests
      After me gloriously, O youth, &c.

{editor's section 3}

Moreover no tongue, unless inspired by God, could relate what Senan did in the way of miracles and mighty works through the grace of the Lord. However, the most select and noblest of them are written in ancient books with reverence and great honour. It is not of the mighty deeds and miracles wrought before our days in the time of Senan that we wish to speak now, but of things clear and recent, the evident wonders, and the stupendous miracles, while he works now, and which he wrought in the time of Tordelbach son of Tadg, son of Conchobar , son of Donnchad Cairbrech, who was the O'Brien for twenty-nine years, and in the time of Donnchad, son of Tordelbach, son of Tadg, and in the time of Diarmait son of Donnchad, son of Brian the Red, and in the time of Muirchertach son of Tordelbach, son of Tadg. For there was no boy in arms,


nor girl in fosterage, nor youth, nor old man, who was not witness to the mighty works and miracles which Senan did in the days of these chiefs. For though this is a goodly company of chiefs to enumerate, yet I reckon them (i. e. their reigns) as but a short period.

{editor's section 4}

As to this Tordelbach son of Tadg—. He succeeded to the kingship of 'the Rough Province' to wit, Thomond; and there was all good in his time; for the earth was fruitful, &c. And so things continued for a while. But afterwards an ordinance and law was set up in the time of Tordelbach, that if any man should slay another in the land, and the full eric was not got from him (the slayer), that it should be exacted from his family, and if it were not obtained from them, it was to be exacted from his tribe, and if it was not got from them, it was to be exacted from the seven tribes most nearly connected with them. Many were harassed and stripped of their property under this ordinance; and though the regular orders of the church rose against it, they could not procure its withdrawal.

{editor's section 5}

It chanced that a man of the (monastic) family of Senan slew a man; and the eric was demanded from the termon lands of Senan; and the coarb, and the prior, and the sacrist, and the convent of Scattery in general, said that they would not pay it; and that it was unjust to demand it from any man except the doer of the deed. But this plea was not accepted, for Tordelbach son of Tadg himself came against them, and reached the


house of Senan with a great company, and remained there that night. And the next day he went on to Kilmacduane, and was there that night. And the same night Senan appeared to the prior in a vision, and greeted him. And the prior asked him what his pleasure was. And he answered: ‘I am going’, said he, ‘to avenge my clerks and my termon on Tordelbach O'Brien’. ‘Why didst thou not take vengance on him for that last night?’ said the prior. ‘I did not like to do so in my own house’, said Senan, ‘for fear it should be said that I had done so (merely) for a matter of food.’ And Senan went on to Kilmacduane, , and he struck Tordelbach on the upper part of the thigh with the butt end of his staff. ‘What is thy grudge against me? clerk’, said Tordelbach. ‘For the injustice done to my termon’, said he. After this Tordelbach went to his house, and never lifted his head till he died.