St. Declan
     Declan is special, marked out for a higher purpose, even before his birth; events in the night sky herald his arrival to those with a mind for such things. His coming into the world is easeful - his mother Deithín knows neither sickness nor pain. She and Declan's father, Erc MacTréin, are in west County Waterford, between Lismore and Cappoquin, visiting Dobhrán, their relation.

Declan receives baptism from Colmán, a holy man who can sense his gift in others. In the infant Declan, he discerns an extraordinary quality, a sanctity which, in time, will bring others into the fold. To this end, Colmán advises a Christian education for the boy, from a suitable age.

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     After being fostered by Dobhrán, Declan goes to study with Díoma, a local scholar and holy man. It is a formative time for Declan, and he takes to learning with a voracious appetite. Cold nights spent hunched over scripture by candle-light, fail to dim his thirst for knowledge; indeed such experience only serves to spur him on, all the way to Rome, where he goes to absorb the intricacies of the ecclesiastical system.

Declan is well received in the capital of Christendom. Fellow expatriot, Bishop Ailbe, recommends him to those on high, citing his noble lineage and holiness. It is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Ailbe and Declan, and during his time in Rome, Declan ascends to the same office as his mentor. His period thus profitably spent, he is despatched to Ireland by Pope Hilary, charged with a mission to preach.
On the long road back through Italy, Declan has a chance encounter with that colossus of the Irish Church, Patrick, who is on his way to the city which Declan has left. The two exchange friendly greetings, before going their separate ways. In time, they shall meet again, on home soil.

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     Back in Ireland, Declan resumes his firm friendship with Ailbe, and proceeds to throw himself into his assignment, aided by disciples gathered in Rome. In the resultant flurry of activity, churches are established, sermons preached and people baptised. Declan's irrepressible energy and enthusiasm radiate throughout the west Waterford region, or the Déise, as it is known. The promise of his early years is beginning to be realised.


The foundation of Declan's monastery at Ardmore comes after a further visit to Rome. Sailing back via Wales, Declan determines to establish his monastic city wherever his craft lands, and it is to Ardmore that destiny takes him. The king of the Déisí - the resident tribe in west Waterford and east Cork - generously donates the land to Bishop Declan's cause.


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     The monastery is an inspirational success. Declan shows himself to be a magnetic figure, bringing in from outside, the worldly wealth needed to get a project like this off the ground. Building work converts patronage into concrete proof of the power of faith, inspiring others to join religious life.

Ardmore's fame spreads beyond the boundaries of the Déise. People come from far and wide around Ireland, to be part of this venture. Declan himself, enjoys great personal popularity. Indeed, such is his gentleness and charity, that some followers prefer to be under his immediate sway at Ardmore, than in authority by his leave elsewhere!
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     Not that Declan is in anyway confined to his monastery or circumscribed by his position. As eager as people are to join, Declan is far too zealous to simply have the people come to him. His is a roving commission, and he covers much ground in the Déise in a lifetime of evangelical exertions.


Cashel, the seat of royal power in Munster, is frequently honoured by Declan's visits. Once, in a time of the plague, the Bishop of Ardmore miraculously cures seven noblemen struck down by the deadly scourge, much to the gratitude of the king, and the wonder of his subjects. The people of Cashel give glory to God, and Declan's fame spreads throughout the land.

"Humble Ailbe, the Patrick of Munster, greater than any saying,
Declan, Patrick of the Déisí - the Déise to Declan for ever."
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