The Saint's Trail

Ninian

Arrived at Whithorn on the Solway around 397 AD. He immediately set about building a church and school and among his pupils was Finnian, (who tutored Columba) and Patrick, (who was tutor to Cattan). The church ruins that can be found at St. Ninian's Point on the island are believed to have been built and named by invading Cumbra's in the 5th century.

Columba

Arrived on Iona from Ireland in 563 AD. The first Belted King to be anointed by Columba on Iona was Aidan. In 1516, James V granted to Sir Patrick Makbard the Chaplaincy of the Parish of St Colmac at North Bute. This church is dedicated to the saint, however it is believed to have been done so through growing popularity and not by him having any connection with the island.

Brendan the Voyager (484-577 AD)

A close friend of Columba who visited Iona on several occasions. Because of his seafaring travels he was appointed Bishop of the Western Isles.

Brendan the Senior (490-573 AD)

A pupil of Finnian and a friend of Columba. He was the founder of the monastery of Birr.

Cattan

The son of Dalriadan royal lineage, he was educated by the ageing Patrick (373 - 463 AD.) He was a devout religious man and although appointed Bishop longed for the solitary life. He finally relinquished his office and settled on Bute.

Blaan (Blane)

Born on Bute the son of Ertha who was a sister to Cattan. Folklore claims Blaan was illegitimate; and following his birth he and his mother were abandoned to the elements of the sea, they were set adrift in a coracle. By luck or design they landed in Ireland where Blaan was first educated until the age of seven. He returned to Bute and continued his studies under the supervision of Cattan who eventually ordained him into the priesthood of the Celtic Church.

Entries recorded in Latin, found at Glendalough Monastery near Dublin referring to the biography of Molios, translated into English inform us,
  1. "Molios is the grandson of King Aidan of Dalriada."
  2. "Blaan is the uncle of Molios."
King Aidan was though to be the father of Blaan. After spending some years in the Kilblaan area on the mainland preaching the gospel Blaan was summoned to Rome and anointed Bishop.
On route home to Scotland, Blaan travelled through England, and at Northumbria he was informed of the death of a local prince. On being asked by the boys parents to pray for their son, Blaan, on touching the boy brought him back to life. The parents on witnessing this miracle and as a token of gratitude, gifted lands to Blaan who in turn gifted them to the Scottish church. These lands were to stay in the possession of Scotland until repossessed by Edward I, following the defeat of King John Balliol in 1296.

Blaan next returned to Bute, arriving at Glencallum Bay, there folklore claims he accidentally dropped a bag of anointed soil on the ground which he had brought from Rome. A fisherwoman nearby on being asked to help regather the soil refused, she was apparently cursed by Blaan, he wished on her every future visit to the beach to collect shell fish, she would find the tide at its height. Folklore further supported this curse, within the burial ground of St Blane's church, men were to be buried in the upper graveyard and women in the lower.

The situation in relation to the burial policy at St. Blane's church grounds was changed on 9 August 1661 by Pastor Alexander McLean of the Dunoon Presbytery.

Again leaving Bute, Blaan on this occasion journeyed to Central Scotland and there built a church and school where the community grew and developed into the City of Dunblane.

Abbots/Bishops of Bute and Iona, and Kings of Dalriada, AD 500-800
Date Title Bute Iona Kings of Dalriada
501       Loarn Mor
Fergus Mor
Donhangart
Gomghall
Gobhran
563 Bishop Catan Columba (until 597) Conall (until 574)
630 Abb./Bishop Blaan Baithene
Laisren
Fergna Brit
Seghine
Aedan (Aidan)
Eochiadh Buide
Conadh Cerr
Ferchar
Domhnell Breac
660 Bishop Daniel Cuimine Ailbe
Failbhe
Conall Crandhama
Domhnall Don
Maelduin
689 Bishop Johann Adamnan
Conamhail
Dunchadh
Faelcu
Cillene Fada
Ferchar Fada of Lorn
Eochaidh Rimeaval
Ainbhellach
Selbach
Eochaidh
737 Abbot Ronan Cillene Droicteach Muiredhach Uaigneach
Domhnall
776 Abbot Maelmanach Slebhine
Suibhne
Aedh Finn Mac Ecdach
790 Abbot Noe Breasal Fergus
Donncorci

Macaille

The son of Caille or Cuille, and a pupil of Patrick. As a Bishop he veiled St Brigid at Usny Hill, Westmeath, and was a witness who testified that during the ceremony Brigid touched the dry wood of the altar and it turned back to its original form of a growing tree.

He died on the 11 April, 490 AD, this date was marked on Bute as the festival of Maccaeus. Until the end of the eighteenth century the Maccaw's, who's name is possibly linked with the saint occupied Garrachty. Another family who possibly carry the name, are the Magill's (Mac-gill-mhichells).

No trace of Maccaille's residence survives, however at Kilmichael in the field adjoining his church is a tumulus (a mound of earth over a grave) surmounted by a dolmen, (a stone table) which is popularly known as 'Michael's Grave.' Thus indicating that the local patron was not looked upon as of celestial origin.

Brigid (St Bride) of Dundalk (453-523)

Having being deceived by an earthly spouse she took the vows of a Nun. She founded a convent and school at Kildare, one of her pupils was Brendan. Her extended missionary work took her to Alba and her 'parish' spread throughout the whole of the Hibernian land, she was though of as a second Mary.

Mernocatus

A sixth century student of Barinthus in the south of Ireland, he fled his studies along with 12 friends to find solitude on an island he had discovered on earlier travels. He described the place as an island fit for saints and called it 'the delicious isle.' He was referring Inchmarnock. Barinthus on discovering their plan, and being concerned for their welfare of the group sought advice from Brendan. Brendan advised the Abbot to follow after the group and inspect the location himself. It took three days to get to Inchmarnock, and on arriving Barinthus found the group in good spirit. They were living on a diet of apples, nuts, roots and herbs that were to be found on the island in abundance. Barinthus stayed with the group for forty days, and on being satisfied with their situation, returned home and reported his findings to Brendan.
The information for this report was found within Rothesay Library, gathered from 'Bute in Olden Time' by J K Hewison.
"Hermit Priests; It was all done out of a spirit of penitential obsession. The work was all for the glory of God and for forgiveness of sins. And in the same spirit of penance they would condemn themselves to exile from their homeland. The most extreme form of this was to set sail into unknown waters looking for some empty island on which they could live out the rest of their lives as hermits." Magnus Magnusson


 
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