Join The Parade
2017 SITE MENU
GET IN TOUCH
Saul Church: Part of Down Cathedral, the burial place of Saint Patrick
In the area which forms the present parish of Navan -
Of the first Church and Monastery at Donaghmore, Tirechan, a monk of Ardbraccan, who lived about the year 700 and wrote a life of St. Patrick, mentions that Patrick gave the church at Donaghmore to a priest, Cassan, stating that his establishment on earth would not be a great one; strangely enough the Church got its name from its size, the Great Church, and a minor monastery survived there until the coming of the Normans. That it was minor we know, because in spite of the round tower which still survives, the monastery is mentioned only twice in the annals of the Four Masters; once in 845 when it was reported that Robhartach Mac Flainn died abbot of Donaghmore and again in 854 when it was plundered by the Vikings.
In one of the deeds preserved in the Book of Kells, it is stated that the monks of Kells bought, for twenty ounces of gold, the lands of one O'Riaman in Donaghmore. The deed is witnessed by O'Dunan, Bishop of the northern half of Ireland, the King of Tara and O' Fiachiach, erenagh or custodian of Donaghmore. It is dated just before 1094 when we know Bishop O' Dunan died.
The monastery, of course, like all the early Christian monasteries was not exactly like a monastery of today. It was a collection of wooden huts surrounded by one, two or three lines of circular ditches with, perhaps, a stone church and round tower and stone crosses,( like those of Kells), at the entrances. It was inhabited at first by a celibate clergy, but gradually there grew up at the monastery, a community of married clergy and laymen, called Mainig, who formed together a Christian Community which owed more to the style of life of the Celtic people than it did to the eastern monasteries on whose rule was modelled the first rules of Irish monastic life.
The early Christian monastery of Ardsallagh has its foundations attributed to St. Finian (died 552) founder of Clonard, patron of the Diocese of Meath and the man largely responsible for the monastic character the Irish Church adopted after the death of Patrick. The monastery, dedicated to St. Brigid, must have been small as it too, is not been mentioned in the Annals. It is a fair assumption as it did not endure the honour of a Viking raid worthy of note in the Annals. It had neither wealth nor size nor contemporary importance to recommend it. No trace of this monastery remains.
Credits | Navan Historical Society