Monday, September 28, 2009

More Boats

Today is the official feast of St Sinach MacDara and aren't we awash in boats again. Mrs D'Arcy describes today's saint this way:

Down the centuries, until outboard motors, fishermen dipped sails three times in salute to MacDara's island off the Connemara coast. Now they sign themselves with the Cross. September 28 is given as the main feast day of the saint, but July 16 is the special day of local fishermen whose currachs still carry a small bottle of holy water in the prow. It is a day of reverent pilgrimage with the celebrant of the Mass bringing the Blessed Sacrament to the island in a special currach. Marking MacDara's monastic settlement today are the famous remains of the little almost roofless ancient oratory built of massive stone. A wooden statue of the saint was preserved there for many centuries.

Fifth-century MacDara's name Sinach is met with again in 12th century Irish religious history. Ceallach of the Clann Sinach brought his "great name and influence" to the cause of renewal in the Irish church. Long a favorite name locally, MacDara is recently coming into greater use. It is interesting to note that Patrick Pearse, the poet-patriot of modern Ireland, chose MacDara as the name of his hero in The Singer, his classic play of Irish patriotism.

Nor has MacDara's little stone oratory ever lost its appeal. Its gable shape stands as the prototype of features noted in important Irish art treasures such as the gabled top of the Monasterboice Muireadach sculptured Cross and the gable shape of the Moneymusk reliquary (a case for relics of Colmcille, preserved from 1315 in Moneymusk House and now in the Edinburgh Museum.)

MacDara's chapel has recently been restored. There is a photo below. The picture at the top of this post shows it almost roofless in the 19th century