Among the Cloud of Irish Witnesses


April 18
Laserian, abbot. Leighlin diocese. 639

Laserian, often called affectionately Mo-laise, was abbot of Old Leighlin. The cathedral, sheltering among the hills of County Carlow, is a place of peace and beauty. It is said that Laserian may have received his training in Iona. His name is certainly honoured in Scotland (Arran) as well as in other parts of Ireland (Inishmurray, of the coast of County Sligo).

We pray for the Dean and the Chapter of Leighlin and for the whole bishopric of Cashel and Ossory.
We pray for Scotland and give thanks for the witness for peace and reconciliation on the island of Iona and through the Iona Community.
We pray for the Episcopal Church in Scotland and for the increasing fellowship being fostered among the churches which share a Celtic heritage. S.

God of peace and beauty
who called Laserian to minister in Scottish islands
and in the rolling land of Carlow:
Bless the ministers of your church
wherever they are called to serve,
making them ministers of reconciliation and of peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

April 27
Assicus (or Tassach) bishop. Elphin diocese. 470.

Tassach was a close friend of Patrick, and as bishop of Raholp, near Saul, attended Patrick on his death bed. Tradition ascribes to him the skills of a brass-worker and coppersmith.

We pray for all who care for the dying, and for the hospice movement.
We give thanks for all with artistic skills and work with metal for the glory of God.

God our Father,
your servant Tassach brought the sacrament of Holy Communion
to Saint Patrick as he was dying:
Support us all through this troublous life
and at the last give us safe lodging and rest in you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May 10
Comgall of Bangor, abbot. Down diocese. 602

Comgall was the founder and first abbot of Bangor Abbey, said to have been the largest monastery in Ireland, with as many as three thousand in the community at one period. Comgall visited Columba in Iona and worked closely with him in spreading the Gospel. Columbanus was trained at Bangor before setting out on his missionary journeys to Europe. There was a strong family-spirit in the community life at Bangor. Counselling, as well as instruction, was an important part of the training. To Comgall is attributed the saying, "A man without a soul-friend is a body without a head."

We pray for universities and schools
We remember the work of the Church of Ireland Theological College and all who have responsibility for training candidates for the Church's ministry. S.

Almighty God,
you raised your Son to be Lord of light and Saviour of our race
and to your saints have given wondrous grace:
We praise you for holy and learned Comgall
whose scholarship made this land
a bright shining light in ages of darkness:
Pour out your Spirit to renew your Church in Ireland
making it once again a land of saints and scholars,
and bringing glory to your Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May 14
Carthagh. Lismore diocese. 637

The cathedral dedicated to Carthagh, (or Macodi) continues worship first begun in the ancient monastery by the River Blackwater in the west of County Waterford. The graceful spire was highly praised by Thackeray on his Irish visit as "the prettiest I have seen in, or I think, out of, Ireland".

We give thanks for those who have faithfully maintained this much visited centre of worship.
We pray for all who serve the church as architects, builders and artists, as through their skills they give glory to God
We give thanks also for the Church's liturgy, expressed through the services of prayer books, as living worship both for the individual and the parish communities. S.

God, who formed the hills of the earth
and created the valleys:
grant that as we honour you for your servant Carthagh,
founder of your Church in the hills
and valleys of West Waterford,
we may in parish church and cathedral glorify your holy Name;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May 16
Brendan, "the Navigator". Ardfert and Clonfert dioceses. 577

Born in Tralee in the diocese of Ardfert and Aghadoe, Brendan founded his monastic school in Clonfert, where the present cathedral with its outstandingly beautiful West Door recalls a great tradition. Brendan's travels, not only to Aghadown (Galway), but also among many islands round the coasts of Ireland and Scotland, and further still to Iceland, have stirred the imagination of many. Inspired by his adventures they have imitated his courage. Was it a companion of Brendan that founded the monastery on the summit of Skellig Michael? Did Brendan sail even further towards the sunset?

We remember seafarers and explorers and praise God for those who have set out overseas to proclaim the Gospel.
We pray for pilgrims, pioneers and all who undertake spiritual journeys to further the work of Christ.
We pray for the Coast Guard and Life Boat Service in their watching and rescuing.
We pray for the work of the Missions to Seamen and the "Flying Angel" Centres in Belfast, Dublin and Cork. S.

God of sea and land,
you endowed your servant Brendan with a bold and adventurous spirit
to occupy himself for your business on the great waters
and revealed to him your wonders in the deep:
Make us, who recall with thanksgiving his life and ministry,
zealous to be pioneers and pilgrims for the faith of Christ;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

June 3
Kevin. Glendalough diocese. 618.

"Of gentle birth", as his Irish name declares, Kevin is associated with the lovely Glendalough valley in the Wicklow hills where he lived a contemplative life, and which became the burial place of the kings of Leinster. A community gathered round this man of prayer, and the monastery associated with him, had a high reputation. He as both poet and musician and his influence was strong for many centuries especially on Lawrence O'Toole.

We remember all who minister in isolated places; and those called today to a life of prayer.
We give thanks for all who use their skills in poetry and music in the service of the Gospel: for composers and poets, organists and organ-builders.

God of the quiet hills and the busy city: we thank you for places of beauty which draw people close to you
and for those like Kevin of Glendalough who inspire us
as they communicate their love of you in music and poetry.
May we respond with deeper devotion to our Lord
and in loving service of our neighbours.
Hear our prayer in the name of Jesus.

June 6
Jarlath, Tuam diocese. circa 550

Jarlath's life and learning lie behind the Christian traditions in the diocese of Tuam. Saint Mary's Cathedral stands on the site of the earliest place of worship. The chancel arch which marks the entrance to the sanctuary is strikingly composed of six semi-circular concentric and recessed arches. This impressive example of Hiberno-Romanesque architecture is justly famous.

We pray for the bishop, clergy and people of the parishes throughout the diocese, where the population is scattered and distances between parishes are great.
We pray for all engaged in local industry and land development.
We remember those who have gone abroad to work in other countries, praying that families keep in touch with their faith and heritage.
We pray also for all concerned with welcoming visitors who come for holidays and rest to a countryside of lakes and mountains, sea-shores and breathtaking views. S.

God, whose praises are sounded
from the rising of the sun to its setting:
we thank you for Jarlath
by whose life and learning
you built the Church in the West of Ireland.
We pray that in that countryside of lakes, mountains and seashore
your holy Name may be for ever praised;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

June 7
Colman, Dromore Diocese. 6th century

It is said that there are as many as 200 Colmans in the list of Irish saints. Colman of Dromore is to be distinguished from Colman of Cloyne (remembered on November 24).

Dromore's Colman is included in the ancient calendars of both Scotland and Wales. Famed as a teacher of St Finnian of Moville, Colman continued the pastoral and teaching traditions of St Patrick. Dromore cathedral dedicated to Christ the Redeemer has drawn inspiration through the centuries from Colman's zeal for faith and truth.

We pray for all engaged in the teaching profession; for the colleges of education , their members of staff, and the students engaged in teacher-training.
We pray, too, for all schools, their teachers and pupils.
We remember those who specialise in religious education, both in day-schools and in Sunday schools. S.

Holy God,
we praise you for all who,
like your servant Colman of Dromore,
have taught the Faith of Christ to young and old
and inspired others to give their lives in his service:
Continue, we pray, to give your church
zeal like his for faith and truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

June 27
Richard Fitzralph. Archbishop of Armagh, reformer. 1360

He was popularly known as "St Richard of Dundalk". A learned scholar, at one time Chancellor of Oxford University, he has been affectionately honoured in Dundalk, the place of his birth, for his compassionate and caring nature. Figuring with importance in church history, he was nevertheless deeply concerned for the sufferers during the Black Death among the people of Dundalk and Drogheda and their surroundings. He had an option for poor. This however did not prevent him from criticising the mendicants of the day. Some of his teaching and writing influenced John Wiclif, later providing insights about a Christian stewardship of possessions. Pilgrims who visited his tomb
"Many a mile did walk
but had never seen so good a man
as Richard of Dundalk."

We pray for all who are concerned with social justice and the relief of the needy.
We pray for the work of the Church's societies for social responsibility, and the creation of opportunities for work for all. S.

Holy and merciful God,
you gave Richard Fitzralph not only gifts of piety and learning
but also such compassion for those were suffering and in need
that he strove to care for them:
Enable the members of your church after his example
to seek holiness in life and integrity of intellect
with a like concern for the helpless;
for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Title page | Preface | The Calendar
January--March | April--June | July--September | October--December
Readings | Index