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Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

May 14

St. Carthagh, or Mochudu, Bishop of Lismore

THIS 1 eminent director of souls in the narrow paths of Christian perfection, was a native of Munster in Ireland. The famous monastery of Raithin or Ratheny in Westmeath was founded by him. He drew up a particular monastic rule, which is said to be still extant in very old Irish; but it was afterwards incorporated into that of the regular canons of St. Austin, when the abbey of Raithin adopted that institute, which, though it has been since mitigated, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, seems to have been scarcely less austere than that of La Trappe at present. St. Carthagh is said to have under his direction above eight hundred and sixty monks, who confined themselves to feed on vegetables, which they raised and cultivated with their own hands. In 631, or, according to the annals of Inisfallen, in 636, he was driven out of Raithin, which he had then governed forty years, by king Blathmac, and retired to the territory of Nandesi, or Desies, in Munster. Here, upon the banks of a river, 2 he laid the foundation of a great monastery and school, which flourished exceedingly for many ages. The place before his coming thither was called Magh-Sgiath; it then took the name of Dunsginne, and afterwards Lismore, which name it has ever since retained. 3 St. Carthagh founded here the episcopal see of Lismore, which was united to that of Waterford by Pope Urban V. in 1363, at the request of King Edward III., this latter having only been founded in 1096. The city of Lismore, from the reputation of the sanctity and miracles of St. Carthagh, its first bishop, was esteemed in succeeding ages a holy city, which appellation its great school and monastery continued to maintain. Half of this city was an asylum into which no woman ever dared to enter, it being full of cells and holy monasteries. Thither holy men flocked from all parts of Ireland, many also from Britain, being desirous to remove from thence to Christ. St. Carthagh left an eminent share of his spirit to his disciples and successors, but died himself soon after he had erected his cathedral, on the 14th of May, in 637 or 638. He was buried in his own church at Lismore. See Colgan in MSS. ad 14 Maij; Ware, t. 1, pp. 547, 548, 549; Usher, Primord. Brit. Eccl. p. 910; Allemaigne, Monast. Hibern. introd. et p. 43; Annals of Inisfall. ad an. 637.  1
Note 1. This St. Carthagh is called the younger, to distinguish him from St. Carthagh the elder, who succeeded St. Kiaran Saigir in Ossory. [back]
Note 2. This river was called Nem; afterwards Abhan-mor, i. e. Great-river; and now has the name of Black-water. [back]
Note 3. Dun signifies a fort, or place seated on an eminence, and sgein a flight; which seems to allude to the flight of the saint to this place, and to the name then given it; for it was before called Magh-sgiath, or the field of the shield. Lismore denotes a great house; Lis, or Lios, in the old Irish signifying a house, or village, and mor, great. [back]