The slabs on this Plate are selected from the many examples within the ruined church here.
The one represents an abbot1 in his rich ecclesiastical vestments, with one hand lifted up in the act of benediction, and the other holding his staff.
The other pourtrays a man in armour. Two figures, apparently ecclesiastics, are engaged in buckling on his Spurs. The sculpture of this slab is in high relief. One of the figures on the pillar may represent St. Michael and the Dragon.
1 Sir Donald MacDuffie, Conventual Prior of Oransay, d. 1554/5.
[HIC] IACET D(OMI)N(U)S DONALLDUS / MACDUFFIE PRIO[R (CON)VEN/TUALIS DE O[RR]ANSAY QUI / OBIIT AN(N)O MDL-
“Here lies Sir Donald MacDuffie, Conventual Prior of Oransay, who died in the year 155-”
[This tombstone was originally in the mural recess of the MacPhie chapel, with the foot towards the east. He was appointed Prior by authority of the Pope in April 1538 and died in 1554; he had probably been in ill-health since an application had been made to permit him to retire, and since his gravestone was able to be prepared with confidence in advance.]
This post concerns a devotion to Our Lady that I suspect very, very few people are even aware. Hopefully this information will prove of interest to devotees and scholars of the Blessed Virgin. Interesting also is the record of vandalism against holy images by the Protestant Reformers as recorded in a native Irish annal for the year 1538.
The very miraculous image of Mary which was in the town of Ath-Truim, in which all the people of Erinn believed for a long time previously, which healed the blind, and deaf and lame, and every other ailment, was burnt by Saxons; and the Bachall-Isa, which was in the town of Ath-Cliath, working numerous prodigies and miracles in Erinn from the time of Saint Patrick to that date, and which had been in Christ’s own hand, was burned by Saxons in like manner; and not alone this, but there was not in Erinn a holy cross, or a figure of Mary, or an illustrious image, over which their power reached, that was not burned. And furthermore, there was not an Order of the seven Orders in their power that they did not destroy. And the pope, and the church abroad and at home, were excommunicating the Saxons on account thereof; but they had neither respect nor regard for that, et cetera. (And I am not certain that it is not in the last year above the burning of those relics should be).
— Annals of Loch Cé, LC1538.6.
* * *
“My bounden dutie unto your honerable Lordschip premysid. Theise shal be to advertise you, for that I endeavor my selff and also cause others of my clergie, to preache the Gospell of Christe and to set forthe the Kinge’s causes, there goeth a common brewte amonges the Yrish men that I intende to ploke down Our Lady of Tryme with other places of pilgramages, as the Holy Crosse and souch like, which in deade I never attempted, although my conscience wolde right well serve me to oppresse souche ydolles.” So runs the dispatch, dated June 20, 1538, from Browne, the first Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, to Henry the Eighth’s “vicar-general,” Thomas Cromwell.
“Our Ladye of Tryme” was a famous shrine of the Mother of God preserved in the abbey church of the Canons Regular at Trim, in Meath. Its story is but a brief chapter from the long and well-known history of the devotion of the Irish people to the Blessed Virgin, and the vandalism of the self-styled Reformers in our land.
The interesting town of Trim is situated pleasantly by the Boyne; in the olden time it was the seat of a bishopric, and possessed one of those puzzles to antiquarians, a Greek church; th[r]ough the Middles Ages parliaments and important gatherings were held in it. Its extensive remains of King John’s castle, its many ruined churches and frairies, still attest its former greatness. But perhaps more famous still was it for “its image of Mary” (dealb Muire, as it was called in Irish), that brought to the abbey of the Canons Regular pilgrims far and wide. I regret not to have been able to find the origin of the devotion, but will give such references as are made to it by our native annalists and in the State papers.
The first reference to it I find in the “Annals of the Four Masters,” where we read that “in the age of Christ 1397 Hugh MacMahon recovered his sight by fasting in honour of the Holy Cross at Raphoe, and of the image of Mary at Ath-Truim.” In Irish Our Lady is nearly always spoken of as Mary (Muire) — “Mary”; so St Patrick and the other saints are called “Patrick,” etc. Our Irish equivalent for “Good Morning” is, Dia agus Muire dhuit — “God and Mary be with thee”; and the frequent response is Dia agus Muire agus Padraig dhuit, — “God and Mary and Patrick be with thee.” It is sad to think that, unless great efforts be made by us to preserve our tongue, this beautiful greeting, with its invocation of Heaven[‘]s blessing, and its familiar tutoiement for stranger or neighbour, will soon be a thing of the past. But that must not be.
In 1412 again it is recorded that “the image of Our Lady at Ath Truim wrought many miracles.” Later on, in 1444, “a great miracle was wrought by the image of Mary at Trim — namely, it restored sight to a blind man, speech to a dumb man, the use of his feet to a cripple, and stretched out the hand of a person to whose side it had been fastened.
In 1472 a parliament was held at Naas (12 Edw., IV.) granted to the abbot and convent of the house of Our Blessed Lady of Trim and their successors two watermills in Trim, with their weirs, fisheries, etc.; trees in the park of Trim, and services of the villeins of the manor for the ordinary establishing, repairing, and continuance of a perpetual wax light from day to day and night to night burning before the image of our Blessed Lady in the pavement pedestal of Our Lady in the church of the said house; and for the support of four other wax tapers continually burning before the same at the Mass of the Holy Mary, at the anthem of Our Lady, to the honour of God and our said Lady, for the good estate of our sovereign lord and Cecilia his mother, and of his children, and for the souls of their progenitors and ancestors.
Trim was on the outmost borders of the English Pale; outside its walls the native clans held sway. To kill an Irishman beyond the Pale was no crime in English law, but a special act was passed by Parliament to allow the “rebel” to come and pay his homage without fear of death at Our Lady’s shrine at Trim. I have searched in vain for any description of a pilgrimage to it, but we can well imagine how on Mary’s festal days the saffron-gowned clansmen, the armoured invader, and the burgesses from Dublin and Drogheda thronged through the Sheep-gate or the Water-gate, hurrying to the blissful shrine. Then, too, would the Dominican from the Assumption, and the Franciscan for St Bonaventure’s; the Canon of St Victor, of Newton, and the cowled friar, leave their convents to join their brethren at St Mary’s in hymning the Virgin’s praise.
— The Month of Mary. Our Lady of Trim.
By Pierce Laurence Mary Nolan B.A., in the Ave Maria. New Zealand Tablet, Rōrahi XXI, Putanga 3, 18 Haratua 1894, Page 4.
(transcribed by Christian Clay Columba Campbell).