Mael Ísu Ua Brolcháin

Cloncha High Cross, Culdaff (Cúil Dabhcha), Inishowen, Co. Donegal.
Cloncha High Cross, Culdaff (Cúil Dabhcha), Inishowen, Co. Donegal.

Mael Ísu Ua Brolcháin, the sage of Erinn in wisdom and in piety, and in the poetry of either language, suum spiritum emisit. Annals of Loch Cé.

Moyle Issa o’Brothloghann, the ealder and sage of Ireland was soe ingenious and witty, and withall soe well learned that he composed great volumes containing many great Misteryes and new sciences devised by himselfe, died this year. Annals of Clonmacnoise.

The Age of Christ, 1086. […] Maelisa Ua Brolchain, learned senior of Ireland, a paragon of wisdom and piety, as well as in poetry and both languages. His wisdom and learning were so great, that he himself wrote books replete with genius and intellect. He resigned his spirit to heaven on the seventh of the Calends of February, as is stated [in this quatrain]:

On the seventeenth of the Calends of February,
The night of fair Fursa’s festival,
Died Maelisa Ua Brolchain,
But, however, not of a heavy severe fit. Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland (Annals of the Four Masters), likewise in the Annals of Ulster.

The patron saint of the parish of Cloncha, in Inishowen, was always regarded as being the present Maelisa Ua Brolchain. In this parish, there stood an ancient monastery, known as Temple Moyle, or Tapal Moule. An old graveyard, surrounded by a stone wall, with an iron gate entrance, is found at this place. John Canon O’Hanlon, Lives of the Irish Saints.

The following hymn attributed to one Máel-ísu is to be found at fo. 31b. col. 2 of the Liber Hymnorum, Trin. Coll. Dub. E. 4. 2.

mæl ísu dixit

INspirut nóeb immunn
innunn ocus ocunn
inspirut nóeb chucunn
tæt achríst cohopunn

INspirut nóeb daittreb
arcuirp isarnanma
diarsnádud cosolma
argábud argalra

Ardemnaib arpheccdaib
ariffern conilulcc
aísu ronnóeba
ronsóera dospirut.     INspirut.


The Holy Spirit (be) around us, in us, and with us! Let the Holy Spirit come to us, O Christ, forthwith!
The Holy Spirit to possess our body and our soul, to protect us with swiftness against danger, against diseases!
Against demons, against sins, against hell with manifold evil, O Jesus, may thy Spirit sanctify us, save us!


The Máel-ísu by whom this little poem was written, was perhaps Máel-ísu Hua-Brolcháin, who died (according to the Annals of Loch Cé) A.D. 1086. He was the author of two hymns, one in the Lebar Brecc, p. 501, half in Latin and half in Irish, beginning thus:—

Deus meus adiuva me
tucc dam doserc amaic modé1
In meum cor ut sanum sit
tucc arí rán dograd cogribb.2

And another in H. 2. 16, col. 336, to S. Michael the Archangel, beginning—

A aingil
beir a michil morfertaig
gusincoimdid mochaingin.
cuinnig codia ndilgudach
dilgud muilc adbail uile

“O Angel! bear, O great-miracled Michael, my complaint to the Lord.
Hearest thou? Ask of forgiving God forgiveness of all my vast evil.”

1 “Give me thy love, O Son of God!”
2 “Give, O right noble King, thy love quickly!”

— Whitley Stokes, Goidelica, Old and Early-Middle-Irish Glosses, Prose and Verse, 1872.

Published by Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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