Rise up Tysaxon and take your place among
the Nations of the Earth.
By Sarah O'Regan, Feb. 1997
in 511 AD. Died in 597 AD. - Exactly 1400 years ago -
His first monastery was built in a little oak-wood, later called Doire Cholmcille, the place where Derry city is now stands. He also founded a monastery at Ceannanas Mór, where his little house is still to be seen. Monasteries founded by him: Derry, Kells, Durrow,Swords, Iona.
The War Book of the O'Donnells brought trouble and exile. He only returned blindfolded to Drom Ceatt for the poets' gathering.
St. Colmcille built over sixty monasteries in Scotland. The Book of Kells was created in Iona by the Irish Monks but finished in Kells because of the threat of the Viking invasion. Because it was finished in Kells it was called The Book of Kells not The Book of Iona. It is a beautiful copy of the Four Gospels and can now be seen in Trinity College Dublin.
Colmcille died in Iona in 597 AD. (1400 years ago)
To settle the dispute a Synod was held at Whitby in 664 AD. Coleman argued the case for the Celtic tradition but the Synod ruled in favour of the Roman Church. Coleman would not accept this decision, resigned as Abbot of Lindisfarne and he and the Irish Monks and thirty Saxon Monks left. They spent two years of prayer and reflection in Iona and then sailed down the west coast of Ireland to Inishbofin, an island off the coast of Galway, where Coleman built a monastery in the townland of Knock.
The Saxon monks found it difficult there because the Irish Monks were off visiting their friends, while they were left at home doing the work and growing food.
So in 668 AD Coleman went to the mainland to find some land for a monastery in which to settle the Saxon monks. Coleman got them a site in Mayo. It was called Mágh nEó. Mágh nEó na Saxon
(Mayo of the Saxon monks, The Plain of the Yew Trees) Here Coleman negotiated with the local Chieftain and was granted a site for a monastery. He appointed Gerald the son of a Northumbria Prince and a former pupil, who had come to Ireland, also because of the result of the Synod of Whitby as Abbot of this new monastery. By the year 700 AD more than 100 monks lived and taught there. It became a famous place of learning attracting many students from all over Ireland and Britain.
Later it gave its name to Co. Mayo. Gerald had three brothers who also were taught by Coleman in Lindisfarne and one of them Balan came to the Athenry area and founded another great monastery, which was known as Tí Saxon.
Temple Moyle - Teampall Maol
Temple Valley - Teampall an Bhaile
Tysaxon - Tigh Sacsan
A visitor to Newcastle, situated five miles NE of Athenry town, will notice two stone ruins lying west of the church and school.
One, Temple Moyle, consisting of a single wall with two narrow windows and set on a mount within a crowded burial ground is what remains of Temple Moyle - Teampall Maol (The roofless church).
The other, Temple Valley, standing in open grassland some distance away, is a more complete remnant of a rectangular church and is known locally as Temple Valley - Teampall an Bhaile (The church of the town). Historians identify both as late medieval Franciscan foundations.
The handbell is preserved in the National Museum and may be viewed by appointment. The graveslab has been removed to an unknown location.
Thus it would seem that the ancient ecclesiastical house of Tysaxon shares a fraternal origin with that of Mayo (Mágh nEó na Sacsan), Tullylease and Inisbofin. Through the personages of St. Coleman and St. Aidan of Lindisfarne Tysaxon, can trace a direct link to the motherhouse of Iona itself. (The Athenry Journal)
BERRCHTUINE. The cross resembles remarkably closely that on a well-known page of the early 8th. Century Book of Lindisfarne and the stone may possibly be the monument of the Founder of the monastery rather than, as is generally supposed, of a name -sake that died in 839. St Beiricheart's name is still popular in the area under the guise of Benjamin. The Saint is also honoured at Kilberihert in the adjoining parish, at Kilberihert in Trughanacmy, Co. Kerry, and at St. Beiricheart's Kyle, Ardane, in the Glen of Aherlow.
It was a very interesting and enjoyable day and I met and had a great chat with Professor Rosemary Cramp who I have seen on T.V a few times since.
In the year 635 AD the King of Northumbria, Oswald, requested the monks of Iona to send a missionary to convert his subjects to Christianity. Aidan was chosen for the task. He established a monastery at Lindisfarne, a tidal island in the shadow of the King's castle at Bamburgh. Aidan work was very successful and Finian, his successor, carried on his work. In 660 A.D. Coleman was appointed as Bishop - Abbot of Lindisfarne. While the Ionian Celtic Church was converting Scotland and Northumbria, St. Augustin was converting southern England to the modern Roman Church. In 663 AD. a synod was called in Whitby to decide which method should be used and it was decided in favour of the Roman tradition. Coleman could not accept the decision of the Synod. He resigned as Bishop of Lindisfarne. He returned to Iona with thirty Saxon monks and many others of Irish extraction taking with him half the bones and relies of St. Aidan. After some time of prayer and reflection they set sail for Inishbofin an island off the coast of Galway, where he built a monastery.
The Saxon monks were very hard working; they tilled the land and grew corn for their survival. The Irish monks visited their friends on the mainland during the summer and resumed to the island for the winter eating the food of the Saxon monks. Dissatisfaction grew and in 668 A.D. St. Coleman came to the mainland seeking a site for the Saxon monks. He talked with the local chieftain in the place known as Mágh nEó (Mayo - plain of the yew trees) and was granted a site for a monastery for the Saxon monks. A former pupil of Coleman's, Gerald, son of a Saxon king, lived near Rosslea and he appointed him BishopAbbot of his new foundation and then returned to Inisbofin where he died in 674 AD The monastery at Mágh nEó quickly grew under Gerald's direction and soon became known as Mágh nEó na Sacsan (Mayo of the Saxons). By the year 700 A.D. more than 100 monks lived there. After some time St. Balan, a brother of Gerald's, and another monk left Mág nEó and went to Tysaxon near Athenry. It was called Templemoyle. They named it Tí Saxon after Balan-Tí Saxon, meaning The House of the Saxon. Another monk travelled to Tullylease in Cork and opened a monastery there. The Book of Kells was started in Iona, by the Irish monks who were great artists and craftsmen, but because of the threat of the Viking invasion it was brought to Kells for safe keeping. As it was finished in Kells it was called the Book of Kells ". We have found out that there are similarities between the Ardagh Chalice and the Book of Lindisfarne. The designs on both are the same so the same craftsmen, the Irish monks, may have made them. The chalice was found in Ireland, so like the Book of Kells it may have been moved because of the threat of Viking raids. It could have been brought to Bofin or Mayo Abbey or Tysaxon or Tullylease. We know it was stolen and hidden in Ardagh, Co. Limerick not far from Tullylease. The thief must have died because he did not return for it. It was not found until early this century in 1868. Likewise the Derrynaflan hoard which was found about ten years ago was hidden by monks and they were probably killed by raiders as they too never came back to recover their property. It is probably safe to say that there may still be treasure in the vicinity of our monasteries. Who knows where we may find a "Tysaxon Hoard" or the "Book of Mayo Abbey" or "The Inishbofin Trove" or the "Tullylease Treasure"? There may be more links to this chain.
(Note: My interest in this subject started with the Weekend workshop in Mayo Abbey. Some of this material has been extracted from the Athenry Journal with kind permission from Finbarr O'Regan, Editor and more here from the writings of Martin T.Kelly of Newcastle National School.)
Item of interest: there is a townland called "KNOCK SAXON" near Balla,
Co. Mayo - I wonder is there another church or monastery here that is connected
to the story? Sarah O'Regan
SCOIL NÁISIÚNTA CARNÁIN