[From Letters from IoM 1846]
ST. PATRICK-ST. MAUGHOLD-LEGEND OF ST. MAUGHOLD.
" St. Patrick was a jontleman,
And came of dacent people."-SONG.
" While we condemn the weak superstition that conferred such exorbitant power on ecclesiastics, or blame them for ambition, indolence, and sensuality, let us not forget that the monastic orders were the depositories of learning and science when banished from the rest of the world, and that Want and Misery frequently partook of these spoils and blessed their services."-JEFFREYS.
ST. PATRICK 1 is said to have been the founder of Christianity on this island, and, in the year 444, while making a voyage, with thirty religious persons from Liverpool to Ireland, was driven on the Isle of Man, where he found the people given over to idolatry and magic. However, by his arguments and eloquence (although he remained but three years he completely effected the conversion of thousands, and the inhabitants, it is said, " never afterwards fell back into the dark regions of paganism."
It is not, perhaps, generally known that this saint, according to another tradition, was born in Dumbartonshire (Scotland, and it is affirmed that the devil was so provoked by his success in preaching the gospel, that he sent a band of witches to annoy him. So violent were they, that he was compelled to flee, and finding a jittle boat on the Clyde, he took possession of it, and set off for Ireland, at which the witches were so indignant, that they tore away an enormous rock, and hurled it, after him, but missing their aim, it fell harmless, and has since been changed into Dumbarton castle !
I shall now conduct you to the little village of St. Maughold, which derives its name from an Irish prince, who had formerly been the chief of banditti, but having been taken prisoner, and converted and baptized by St. Patrick, resolved to abandon the world. He afterwards retired to a cave in the mountains in this island, where, by the austerity of his manners and fervent piety, he became so eminent that he was unanimously chosen Bishop of Man by the natives, A. D. 498. " But how," it may be asked, " did he get to the Isle of Man ?" You shall see
" I'll tell you the legend as well as I can,
Of St. Maughold, a pious old Bishop of Man.
This man (like his father)
Was profligate, rather
At least, he had been in an earlier scene,
If his sins we could fish up,
Before he was bishop.
He led his poor wife, It is said, a sad life,
Would cheat her and beat her,
And often ill-treat her ;
Nay, threaten to kick her,
When he was in liquor,
Though now a saint, yet he
Was once-of banditti,
The captain, or leader, as fierce as could be,
In that island which Moore calls the " Gem of the sea."3
And wherever he went,
He on plunder was bent,
But after a few years began to repent;
So they sent him afloat,
In a flat leather boat,4
In very rough weather,
His hands tied together,
With bolts on his feet,
And no victuals to eat.5
So he sung, (while on waves he continued to ride,)
` I'm afloat, I'm afloat, on the fierce rolling tide.'6
At length he was thrown,
On an island unknown;
Or, at least, very few,
At that period knew,
That where the boat ran,7
Was the Island of Man;
And St. Patrick (the Saint)
Pick'd him up rather faint.
Yet this man became--and, believe it who can !
A worthy, respectable Bishop of Man.
Ay, and such was his fame, That he got a great name.
When Saint Bridget 8 an Irish nun came to visit him,
And then lost her heart, say some folks (as a quiz at him),
And soon took the veil,
When she saw him so pale,
With fasting so much of late,
His follies to expiate.
So thus he became-ay, believe it who can
A worthy respectable Bishop of Man.
And in Mona's fair isle,
This Saint lived for awhile,
Where there's now a famed well,9
Which contains-as they tell
A very fine spring, which the Manx (spite of dirt) use,
On account of its famous medicinal virtues.
But then, don't you see ?
That it's efficacy,
To- Man's sons and daughters
Who drank of these waters,
Was chiefly enhanced (though they tasted like paint),
By drinking them off in the chair of the saint.10
Not a modern stuff'd chair,
But a hard one and bare,
Which no one now again to sit in would care,
Where the Saint with hair shirt,
And all covered with dirt,
Would repent his misdeeds,
And count over his beads.
So I've given the tale as well told as I can,
In verse, of St. Maughold, the Bishop of Man."
1 Wales contends for the honour of the birth-place of St. Patrick, with Scotland and Ireland. Mr. Owen, in his " Cambrian Biography," affirms he was born at Aberllychwr, in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, where there is a church dedicated to him. " In corroboration," Mr. Owen says, " it is recorded in the History of Wales, that the Irish were enabled to settle themselves along nearly the whole extent of its coast, in the beginning of the fifth century, and continued there until nearly the middle of the same era, when they were expelled from the North by the natives, assisted by the sons of Cunedda, and from the South with the aid of Urien."HONE's EVERYDAY BOOK.
2 Vide Appendix D.
4 " The ancient Irish used wicker boats, covered with oxhides, not only in rivers but in the open sea. These were called in Irish, corraghs, possibly from the British cor wg, i. e., ' a boat covered with leather.' Maughold (afterwards Bishop of Man,) being at sea in a leathern boat, was driven by a north wind into an Isle of Eubonia."-WARE's ANTIQUITIES.
5 Vide "Legend of St. Maughold."
6A palpable anachronism, the song here alluded to being a modern composition.
8 " On the eve of the 1st of February, a festival was formerly kept in honour of this lady. It was customary
to gather a bundle of green rushes, and standing on the threshold of the door holding them in the hand, the holy St. Bridget
was invited to come that night and lodge with them. The Manx words used on these occasions were (translated)
Bridget, Bridget, come to my house,
Come to my house to-night.
Open the door for Bridget, and let Bridget come in.'
Rushes were then strewed on the floor by way of a carpet, or bed, for the saint. She is reputed to have obliged posterity with twelve books of her ' Revelations,' which an angel dictated, as St. Bridget prayed, and a scribe took notes." WARE'S IRISH WRITERS.
9 "The most celebrated well in modern times, for its medicinal virtues, is the fine spring which issues from the rock of the promontory, called ` Maughold Head.' St. Maughold, it appears, bad blessed the well, and endued it with certain healing virtues, which it yet retains, and on that account is still resorted to by every Manx invalid who believes in its efficacy. On the Ist Sunday of August, the natives make a pilgrimage to drink of its waters."-TRAIN.
10 The saint, for the accommodation of succeeding generations, placed that chair immediately contiguous to the well.