All Affrighted and Adrad

Sound of Iona.
Sound of Iona.

Another time when Columcille was in lona, holy Baithin set out for that foresaid isle. Columcille warned him that in the middle of the night tofore a terrible beast had come into the harbor betwixt lona and the isle that he was bound for; and that all that should go past that harbor should be in sore peril from her.

Baithin replied, “I and the monster are in God’s hand,” saith he.

“Go,” saith Columcille, “with God’s blessing and mine. Thy stout faith shall save thee from that beast.”

Then went Baithin into his ship. And he had not been long travelling on the sea when they met the beast. Then were they all affrighted and adrad that were in the boat, save only Baithin. And he lifted his hands and eyes to Heaven and prayed God fervently to save him from the danger whereas he was. When Baithin had ended that prayer, he blessed the sea and its waters, and the beast fled before him. And she hath not been seen in that place from that time.

– Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Columcille),
XVII. More of the Labors of Columcille in Iona, 234;
compiled by Manus O’Donnell in 1532; edited and translated from manuscript Rawlinson B. 514 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Columcille Fecit

Rathlin Island as seen from Torr Head with Fair Head to the left.

This poem, under the title Columcille Fecit, has been attributed to St. Columba.

* * *

Delightful would it be to me to be in Uchd Ailiun
On the pinnacle of a rock,
That I might often see
The face of the ocean;
That I might see its heaving waves
Over the wide ocean,
When they chant music to their Father
Upon the world’s course;
That I might see its level sparkling strand,
It would be no cause of sorrow;
That I might hear the song of the wonderful birds,
Source of happiness;
That I might hear the thunder of the crowding waves
Upon the rocks;
That I might hear the roar by the side of the church
Of the surrounding sea;
That I might see its noble flocks
Over the watery ocean;
That I might see the sea monsters,
The greatest of all wonders;
That I might see its ebb and flood
In their career;
That my mystical name might be, I say,
‘Cul ri Erin’;
That contrition might come upon my heart
Upon looking at her;
That I might bewail my evils all,
Though it were difficult to compute them;
That I might bless the Lord
Who conserves all,
Heaven with its countless bright orders,
Land, strand and flood;
That I might search the books all,
That would be good for any soul;
At times kneeling to Beloved Heaven;
At times at psalm-singing;
At times contemplating the King of Heaven,
Holy the Chief;
At times work without compulsion;
This would be delightful.
At times plucking duilisc from the rocks;
At times fishing;
At times giving food to the poor;
At times in a carcair [solitary cell].
The best advice in the presence of God
To me has been vouchsafed.
The King whose servant I am will not let
Anything deceive me.

Columcille Fecit, Anonymous (attributed to St. Columba).