Blessed Patrick of the Bells

Patrick and Cascorach the Musician

One time the King of Ulster went up with Caoilte to a great liss that was called Foradh-na-Feinne, the Resting-place of the Fianna. And when they were there they saw coming towards them a young man that was wearing a beautiful green cloak having in it a silver brooch; a shirt of yellow silk next his skin he had; a coat of soft satin, and a harp from his neck. “Where do you come from and who are you yourself?” said the King. “I come from the South from the Hill of Bodb Dearg son of the Dagda,” said he; “and I am Cascorach, son of Cainchen that is poet to the Tuatha de Danaan and I am the makings of a poet myself. And it is what I am come for now” he said “to get true knowledge and the stories of the Fianna and their great deeds from Caoilte son of Ronan.” With that he took his harp and made music for them till he had put them all into their sleep., “Well Caoilte my soul” he said then “what answer will you give me?” “I will give you all you are asking” said Caoilte “if you have skill and understanding to learn all the Fianna did of arms and of bravery. And it was a great fighting-man used to be in this place” he said “that was Finn, son of Cumhal, and it is great riches and great wages you would have got from him for your music; although this day the place is empty.” And he made this lament:

“The Resting-place of the Fianna is bare to-night where Finn of the naked sword used to be; through the death of the king that was without gloom, wide Almhuin is deserted;

“The high company are not living; Finn the very prince is not alive; no armies to be seen, no captains with the King of the Fianna.

“They are all gone, the people of Finn, they that used to be going from valley to valley; it is a pity the life I have now, to be left after Diarmwd and Conan, after Goll son of Morna from the plain.

“It is the truth I am telling you; all that I say is true; it is great our losses were there beyond. They are gone, the armies and the hundreds; it is a pity I myself not to have found death; they are all gone now; they used to be together from border to border.”

Then Caoilte brought to mind the loss of the heroes and of the great companies he used to be going among, and he cried miserably, sorrowfully, till all his breast was wet with him. He set out after that and Cascorach with him and they went up by hills and rocks to the top of green-grassed Slieve Fuad, to the rowan tree of the Meadow of the Two Stags and to the place where the men of Ulster left their chariots after the last battle of the War for the Bull of Cuailgne. And Patrick was there before him, having with him three times fifty bishops and three times fifty priests and three times fifty deacons and three times fifty singers of psalms. And they sat down there, and Patrick kept his Hours with praising the Maker of the world. Then he gave a welcome to Caoilte. “Well, my soul” he said “who is that well-looking dark-eyebrowed curly-headed young man that is with you, having a harp with him?” “He is Cascorach son of the musician of the Tuatha De Danaan, that is come to find news and knowledge of the Fianna from me.” “It is a good road he has chosen” said Patrick. “And O Caoilte” he said “it is great good you yourself have waited for, the time of belief and of saints and of holiness, and to be in friendship with the King of Heaven and earth. And play to us now Cascorach” he said “till we hear your music and your skill.” “I will do that” said Cascorach; “and I never was better pleased, holy Clerk, to do it for any man than for yourself.” He took his harp then and readied it, and played a strain of music, and the clerks had never heard the like of that music for sweetness, unless it might be the praises of the King of Heaven sung according to the Rule. And they all fell into their sleep listening to the continuous music of the Sidhe. And when Cascorach had made an end of playing, he asked a reward of Patrick. “What reward are you asking, my soul?” said Patrick. “Heaven for myself” said he “for that is the reward is best; and good luck to go with my art and with all that will follow it after me.” “I give you heaven” said Patrick, “and I give this to your art, it to be one of the three arts by which a man can find profit to the last in Ireland. And however great the grudgingness a man of your art may meet with, let him but make his music, and no one will begrudge him anything. And that they may have all happiness” he said, “so long as they are not slothful in their trade.” After that Cascorach put back his harp in its covering. “That was good music you gave us” said Brogan the scribe. “It was good indeed” said Patrick; “and but for a taste of the music of the Sidhe that was in it I never heard anything nearer to the music of heaven.” “If there is music in heaven why- should it not be on earth?” said Brogan. “And so it is not right to banish it away.” “I do not say we should banish it” said Patrick, “but only that we should not hold to it out of measure.”

Patrick’s Farewell to Caoilte

But after a good while Caoilte said “Holy Patrick, my soul, I am thinking it is time for me to be going to-morrow.” “Why would you go?” said Patrick. “To be searching out the hills and the hollows of every place where my comrades and the King of the Fianna used to be together with me, for it seems long to me to be in the one place.” And when they rose up on the morrow, Caoilte laid his hand in Patrick’s bosom and it is what Patrick said “From myself to yourself, in the house or out of the house, in whatever place God will lay his hand on you, I give you Heaven.”

Bodb Dearg’s Daughter

Aedh King of Connacht was at Dun Leoda Loingsig one time giving a great feast. And it happened at the fall of the clouds of evening he came out on the green lawn, and as he was there and the people of his household with him, he saw on one side a girl of wonderful appearance, having yellow hair, and she not looking at the people but only at the king. “Where do you come from girl?” said the king. “Out of the shining Brugh in the east” said she. “For what cause are you come?” said the king. “You are my sweetheart,” said she. “Whose daughter are you and what name have you?” said the king. “I am Aillenn of the many shapes, daughter to Bodb Dearg, son of the Dagda. “I have never seen a woman I would sooner have as a wife than yourself” said the king “but that I am under the rule of Blessed Patrick and of the King of Heaven and earth. And Patrick bound me” he said “to have one wife only, that is Aife daughter of Eoghan, King of Leinster. And would you wish to be seen by the great men of my kingdom?” he said. “I would like it indeed” said she “for I am not an ever living woman of the Sidhe, but I am of the Tuatha de Danaan, having my own body about me.” Then she showed herself to the whole gathering of the people and they never saw before or after a woman more beautiful than herself. “And what judgment do you put upon me King?” she said. “Whatever judgment Blessed Patrick gives I will give it” said be. Then Aedh sent messengers to Patrick where he was in the south, and they brought him to Beinn Gulbain in Maenmag. And Aedh the King went to meet him there and knelt before him and told him the whole story. “Are you the girl” said Patrick “that gave her love to the King of Connacht?” “I am” said she. “Well girl” said Patrick “it is good your shape is and your appearance. And what is it keeps you like this” he said “at the very height of your comeliness?” “Everyone that drank at Giobniu’s Feast” she said, “no sickness or wasting comes upon them. And tell me now holy Clerk” she said “what is your judgment on myself and on the King of Connacht?” “It is a good one” said Patrick; “it is settled by God and myself that a man must have one wife only.” “And I myself” said the girl “what am I to do?” “Go back to your house among the Sidhe” said Patrick; “and if it should happen the King of Leinster’s daughter to die before yourself, let the man you have given your love to take you as his only wife. But if you should try to harm Aedh or his wife by day or by night” he said “I will destroy you the way neither your father or your mother or your fosterers will like to be looking at you.” Then the girl cried pitifully, heavily, and the King said “I am dear to you.” “You are dear to me indeed” said she. “There is not one of the people of the world is dearer to me than yourself” said the king; “but I must not go beyond the conditions of the Adzehead and of God.” With that the girl went back to her hidden house among the Sidhe. And after a while the wife of the King of Connacht died at Uaran Garaid and was buried on the hill that is called the High Place of the Angels. And after that again there was a gathering made of all the five provinces of Ireland to hold the feast of Teamhuir. And Patrick and Aedh King of Connacht were out on the green; and they saw coming towards them Aillenn daughter of Bodb Dearg, having with her three fifties of the women of the Tuatha de Danaan, and she sat down on the grass beside Patrick and the King of Connacht, and she gave her message. Then Patrick said to the king “I will give her to you if you will take her as your wife.” “Whatever you are willing for me to do I will do it” said the king. “I promised you would take her” said Patrick, “if she would give up her false druid belief and kneel to the King of heaven and earth.” “Do you agree to that Aillenn?” said the king. “I agree to it” said she. Then she rose up, and her women, and they all kneeled to Patrick, and Patrick joined her and the king in marriage. That now was the first marriage made by the Adzehead in Ireland.

Ethne the Beautiful and Fedeim the Rosy-Red

Patrick was one time at Cruachan of Connacht, and he went up to the well that is called Clibach and that is opposite the rising of the sun, and he sat down beside the well, and his clerks with him. There were two daughters now of Laoghaire the High King were living at Rath Cruachan at that time, getting their learning from the druids and the name of the one was Ethne and the other was Fedelm the Rosy-Red. And it was their custom every morning to come and to wash themselves in the well. And on this day when they came they saw a company of men having white clothes, and books before them beside the well. And there was great wonder on them and they thought them to be of the people of the Sidhe. And they questioned Patrick and said to him “Where do you come from? And where are you going? And is it gods you are” they said “or men from the hills of the Sidhe?” “It would be better for you to believe in God than to be asking who we ourselves are” said Patrick “Who is your God?” said Ethne then. “And where is hey” she said “Is it in the skies he is, or in the earth, or under the earth, or upon the earth, or in the seas or in the streams, or in the mountains or in the valleys? And has he riches?” she said “Is he young? Is he beautiful? Has he sons and daughters? Is he of the ever living ones?” Patrick took in hand then to answer their questions and to teach them the true faith; and he told them it was fitting they should join with the King of Glory, being as they were the daughters of an earthly king. And when they had heard the whole story a great desire came upon them to serve Him. “And it is the desire of our hearts” they said “to see his Son, our husband.” “That is not possible” said Patrick “but through taking the body of Christ and through death.” “We would die surely” they said “if we might see Christ on the moment.” Then Patrick baptized them and gave them the Body of Christ, and put a white veil upon their heads, and they were filled with peace and with the friendship of God. And when they were sleeping in death, his people put them on a little bed and laid coverings over them, and keened them there.

The Soul and the Body

The Saviour told Patrick one time to go and prepare a man that was going to die. And Patrick said “I would sooner not go for I never yet saw the soul part from the body.” But after that he went and prepared the man. And when he was lying there dead, he saw the soul go from the body, and three times it went to the door and three times it came back and kissed the body. And Patrick asked the Saviour why it did that and he said “That soul was sorry to part from the body because it had kept it so clean and so honest.”

Patrick’s Rush Candles

Patrick went one time into a house in the south, and the people of it were poor, and they had not a candle or a rush light or turf or sticks for a fire, but when the daylight was done what they had to do was to go to their bed. And when Patrick came in and saw the house so dark he said “Are there no green rushes growing in the bog?” So they went out and brought him in a bundle of green rushes and he took them in his hand and blessed them, and they gave out light through the whole of the night time.

His Church at Ardmacha

Patrick was walking up the hill of Ardmacha one time with his people and they found a doe resting on the ground, and a fawn beside her. And his people were going to kill the fawn, but Patrick forbade them and he took it in his arms and carried it, and the doe came following after him. And it was in the place where he put down the fawn, the church of Ardmacha was built for him afterwards.

He is Waked by the Angels

When the time came for Patrick to die it is to Ardmacha he had a desire to go. But Victor the angel went to meet him on the road at midday and said “Go back to the place you came ‘from, to the barn, for it is there your death will be. And give thanks to Christ” he said “for your prayers are granted; it is to Heaven you will soon be going.” And when his soul parted from his body, there was no candle wasted with him, but it was the angels of God kept lasting watch over him until the end of twelve nights, and through all that time there was no night in Magh mis with the light of the angels. It is that was a long day of peace! And after his death there was near being a great battle between the men of Ulster and the Ua Neil, fighting for his body. But at the last it seemed to them that his body was brought by each of them to his own country, and so they were separated by God.