Thursday, 14 April 2016

Slane Abbey

From Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy:

Slane Abbey

Slane six miles west of Drogheda and on the north side of the Boyne. It was formerly a town of note and a borough in the palatinate of Meath. On the hill of Slane, visible from the heights of Tara, St. Patrick, in violation of a standing law, enkindled a fire by which he attracted the notice of the monarch and the court. St. Erc was bishop of Slane. Dagobert king of Austrasia, a part of France, was sent to Ireland by Grimoald, mayor of the palace, to be instructed and is said to have remained in Slane many years until he was recalled and placed on the throne.

AD 746 the first abbot of this monastery whose name is preserved in history was Colman son of Faelan and called the Briton

AD 797 died the abbot Aillil, son of Cormac, a man skilled in philosophy and who was an upright and learned judge

AD 838 the Danes plundered this abbey

AD 854 Sodamna bishop of Slane was martyred by the Danes

AD 947 the Danes received a great defeat in this town where Blacar, their commander, with sixteen hundred of his men were slain in battle

AD 948 the Danes set fire to the abbey and Probus, the prelector of the school of Slane, lost his life, together with several of his holy companions and the pastoral staff of St. Erc and many other relics of the saints and the best bell in Ireland were wholly consumed.  Probus or Caenachair was the author of the life of St. Patrick written in two books and which is esteemed as one of the most circumstantial and correct records which has been handed down on that interesting subject. This eminent man was chief lecturer in the schools of Slane in this year and having taken shelter in the belfry of the church with many others was consigned to the flames.

AD 1042 this year Eochagan a celebrated author, professor of Swords and archdeacon of this abbey died at Cologne

AD 1170 MacMurrough king of Leinster with a body of the English led on by Earl Strongbow burned and sacked the town

AD 1175 the English forces repeated their barbarities. They seem to have been more cruel than the Danes who generally were content with carrying off the moveable property of those places which they ravaged. The English depredators not only seized the moveable but they also took possession of the immoveable property of the country without regard to the rights of the native Irish whom they also put to death. Dermot MacMurrogh, who was the Nero of Ireland, died an awful death. By his plunder of the churches he added crime to crime sacrilege to sacrilege and like his prototype Nero gloated over the misfortunes which his crimes and oppressions brought on the unhappy land that gave him birth. Strongbow, to whom he gave his daughter Eva in marriage, died also a death which his crimes against the sanctuaries of Ireland well deserved. The abbey of Slane was rebuilt with some degree of elegance in the year 1512, having been refounded for Franciscans of the third order by Christopher Fleming, lord of Slane, and his wife Elizabeth Stuckle, who finding Malachy and Donagh O'Brine, friars of the same order, dwelling in the ancient hermitage of St. Erc, removed them to this new house, having obtained a proper and sufficient license for so doing. In the present remains of lord Slane's building are several fragments of the ancient abbey and many of the architraves were evidently cut out of the ornamental parts particularly one with the appearance of a head crowned.

In the thirty second of Henry VIII the prior of Slane was seized of a church and belfry dormitory garden and two closes containing one acre annual value 18s. The family of Fleming obtained it by grant. It subsequently became forfeited in the year 1641 and was given to the family of the marquis of Conyngham.