Tuesday, 29 January 2019

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29 January circa 598AD: Feast day of Saint Dallán Forgaill. Saint Dallán's given name was Eochaid, his father was Colla, and his mother was Forgall. His nickname, Dallán ("little blind one"), was earned after he lost his sight, reputedly as a result of studying intensively. He was born in Maigen near what is now Ballyconnel Co Cavan circa 530AD.
He is famous for writing poetry in particular Amhra Coluim Cille - a poem in praise of St Columba and considered one of the most important poems we have from the early medieval Gaelic world. The "Amhra Coluim Cille" became a popular text for students in Irish monasteries. He also said to have wrote Rop Tú Mo Baile /Be Thou My Vision; it opens with the lines:
Rop tú mo baile, a Choimdiu cride
Be thou my vision O Lord
This has been set to music in modern times and is a prayer that belongs to a type known as a lorica - a prayer for protection.
Saint Dallán was killed while visiting his colleague Saint Conall Cael at his monastery on Inis keel/Inis Caoil [above] off the coast of Donegal when pirates raided the island. Dallán  was reportedly beheaded.  He was buried on Iniskeel, his friend Conall Cael was later laid to rest in the same grave. Today the island has no inhabitants.
Dallán was recognised as the Chief Ollam of Ireland - the Bard with the most status in the Country really and was also a noted Latin Scholar.
The following works are attributed to Dallán, although some may be later works by other poets who credited Dallán with authorship in order to make their poems more famous.

1. Amra Conall Coel

2. Dubgilla dub-airm n-aisse

3. Fo réir Coluim cén ad-fías

4. Conn cet cathach a righi

5. Rop tú mo baile

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