THE IRISH ECCLESIASTICAL RECORD.
BLESSED THADDEUS, BISHOP OF CORK AND CLOYNE.
THE HISTORY OF A CONVERSION.
TWO ILLUSTRIOUS GRAVES.
NOTICES OF BOOKS.
BLESSED THADDEUS, BISHOP OF CORK AND CLOYNE.
The interesting and very learned article which appeared in the last number of the Record 1 has contributed much to illustrate the life of the Blessed Thaddeus, and to make known to the Irish Church a distinguished prelate whose virtues and sanctity adorned our island towards the close of the fifteenth century, which is precisely one of the darkest eras of our history. As, however, some of the writer's conclusions can scarcely be reconciled with the statement which we made in a preceding article on the Bishops of Cork and Cloyne (Record, p. 312), viz., that this holy Bishop's name was 'Thaddeus Machar or Maher', we take the liberty of laying before the reader the reasons on which our opinion was based, and which compel us, however unwilling, to exclude from the princely family of the M'Carthys the saintly prelate whose relics now enrich the cathedral of Ivrea.
1. The town of Ivrea, to use the learned writer's words, is the capital of the Piedmontese province of the same name, and we may add that it is most picturesquely situated at the foot of the Alps, and is one of the first Italian towns which the traveller meets when, having crossed Mount St. Bernard, he wends his way towards Vercelli or Novara. In medieval documents Ivrea receives the Latin names of Eporedia, Iporegia, and Hipporegia, as may be seen in Ughelli's Italia Sacra, or in the later work of Cappalletti, 'Le Chiese d'Italia' (Venice, 1858, vol. xiv., pag. 177), and at the time of which we speak, the see was held by Nicholas Garigliati, who was appointed its bishop in 1483, and died in 1499.
2. That the Blessed Thaddeus, who by his sanctity and miracles merited to be numbered amongst the patrons of Ivrea, was Bishop of Cork and Cloyne, is beyond all controversy. To the arguments advanced by the writer in the last Record we may add an extract from the Todd MSS. given by Brady in his Records of Cork (vol. iii. pag. 44), in which Bishop Thaddeus, who was appointed to the see of Cork in 1490, is said to have "died at the town of Eporedia in Piedmont in 1492". The date 4th October, is indeed added, but this is probably a mere misprint for the 24th October, the true date of the demise of our holy bishop.
3. Ware informs us that this Thaddeus was by some called Mechar (pag. 563), and the documents of Ivrea place beyond doubt that such was his true name. Thus the Bishop of Ivrea writes, "Thaddaeum Machar, 2 Episcopum Hib. illum esse innotuit ex chartis quas deferebat", and the old parchment record to which the same bishop refers, apparently quoting from the inscription on his tomb, describes our Blessed Thaddeus as,
"Regia progenies alto de sanguine Machar".
Now the learned editors of the Martyrology of Donegal inform us that the name Mechar is the same as the O'Meachair which appears so often in the ancient monuments of our history (see Martyr. of Donegal, published by I. A. S. 1864, pag. 517), and which at the present day has assumed the Anglicized forms of Meagher and Maher.
4. The ancient Latin verses published in the Record, 3 present two important data for determining the family to which this bishop belonged. One is his native district, which is called Solum Cariense: the other is the royal ancestry to which his family had a just and ancient claim: "Regia progenies alto de sanguine Machar". Now are these data verified in the family of the O'Meachair? if not, it must be admitted that it can have no claim to our holy bishop; but if, on the other hand, those data accurately agree with what the ancient monuments of our island attest regarding the sept of the O'Meachairs, we must conclude that no link is wanting in the chain of evidence, and that the Blessed Thaddeus has justly been referred to that distinguished family.
5. Nothing now remains but to cite some few passages from our early writers which serve to illustrate these points in the history of the O'Meachairs.
In the first place, the topographical poem of O'Huidhrin (who died in 1420) has one important passage which not only throws some light on the family name, but moreover points to the territory of Ui-Cairin as the chief abode of the O'Mahers, precisely as the name Carinum in the Latin poem cited above marks the native district of our holy Bishop Thaddeus. The translation of this poem of O'Huidhrin was the last work achieved by our illustrious O'Donovan, and was published by the I. A. S. in 1862. At page 133 we find the following verse:—
"Mightily have they filled the land
The O'Meachairs—the territory of Ui-Cairin
A tribe at the foot of Bearnan Eile;
It is no shame to celebrate their triumph".
To which lines O'Donovan adds the following notes:
"The O'Meachairs. The name of this family is now Anglicized O'Meagher, but more generally Meagher or Maher, without the prefix O'. Their territory of Ui-Cairin is now called Ikerrin, and is a barony in the present county of Tipperary.
"Bearnan Eile, i.e. the gapped mountain of Ely, now called in English the Devil's-Bit Mountain"—(Notes, page lxxxv., n. 71 and 72.)
6. In the Leabhar na-Ceart, edited by the same distinguished Irish antiquary, for the Celtic Society, in 1847, we find some additional evidence not only for the connexion of the O'Meachars