St. Tigernach of Clogher, Bishop
(Tigernake, Tierney, Tierry, Terry)
Died 549. Abbot Saint Tigernach of Cluanois (Clones) Abbey in Monaghan succeeded Saint Macartan (f.d. March 26) as bishop of Clogher, Ireland. While the details of his life are unreliable because they were written from tradition centuries after his death, he is said to have had a tragic childhood and to have died blind. They say that he was the son of a famous general named Corbre and Dearfraych, the daughter of an Irish king named Eochod. He was baptized by Bishop Saint Conleth of Kildare (f.d. May 3) with Saint Brigid as his godmother. While still a youth, he was captured by pirates and taken to the British king, who placed him in the monastery of Rosnat. There he learned to serve God with his whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. When he returned to Ireland, he was reluctantly consecrated bishop, and, upon the death of Macartan in 506, took over that see (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopaedia, Husenbeth).
As Tighernach, or Tierney, lived in the sixth century and his Life was written some six hundred years later, it is difficult to sort out the history from the legends that have surrounded him. It seems that he was the illegitimate son of a princess of Clogher, by Corib, one of her father’s nobles, and was given the name Tighernach, which means “chieftain”. At his baptism St. Brigid is said to have been his godmother.
When still a child, Tighernach was kidnapped by raiders from Britain and adopted by a petty king, who put him to bed with his two sons, but his sanctity seems to have had a stifling affect on the boys and in the morning they were found dead. A holy man, St. Morwen, was called in and advised that the holy infant should be put between the two little princes, and this time his sanctity revived them. St. Morwen took Tighernach to his monastery, at a place called Rosnat. This was probably the famous Candida Casa at Whithorn, and the holy man none other than St. Ninian, although some think it was Menevia and St. David. However, in this monastery, Tighernach received his education.
The Life says that he visited Rome and Tours before returning to Ireland, where a prince named Fiachra gave him land in Munster, and he was made a bishop. He had a lot of visitors including Duach, the Bishop of Armagh, who was taken ill on his journey home but was cured by the saint. On this occasion Duach is reported to have said,
Tighernach on earth, Tighernach in heaven, presumably referring to our Lord’s teaching that he that would be chief among His disciples must be servant of all.
Tighernach did much to induce a more civilized behaviour by warriors and to dissuade them from mutilating the dead and injured after a battle. He is also credited with many miracles. On the death of St. Maccarthan, he accepted the see of Clogher, and later founded another monastery at Clones, where he resided. For the last thirty years of his life he was blind, and spent most of his time in his cell, in prayer and meditation.
As his end approached, he appointed his beloved disciple Comgall to succeed him as abbot in his principal monastery and retired to die in the other. The date of his death is given as April 4th 550, and he is buried at Clones, where there is a carved High Cross, a round tower and the remains of the monastic church (Baring-Gould & Fisher, Bowen, Flanagan, Neeson).
Troparion of St Tigernach
O holy Tigernach, thou didst glorify God as Abbot of Clones
before being called to the episcopate.
As once thou didst shepherd thy flock on earth so now, in company with the Angels in heaven,
pray to Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.
- Celtic and Old English Saints – 4 April . 2016. Celtic and Old English Saints – 4 April . [ONLINE] Available at: http://celticsaints.org/2016/0404b.html. [Accessed 04 April 2016].
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