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