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14. St Mogue's Island

14. St Mogue's Island

This is reputedly the birth place of St Mogue (St Aidan) a noted early Irish saint. It contains early Christian monastic ruins and a graveyard. The Island features largely in local tradition and folklore.
It entered the realms of modern folklore in 1943 with the crash of an RAF Beaufighter. For the full amazing story please visit:
www.bawnboy.com/Beaufighter-JL710

The beautiful legend of St. Mogue's birth is very well preserved in the parish of Templeport and here we give its outlines in the form which it has been told by several of the old people. It is practically identical with the account given in the Martyrology of Donegal.

St Mogue's Island in Templeport Lake
The evening sunshine on St Mogue's Island in Templeport Lake

St. Killian or Caillin of Fenagh on awaking one summer morning finds the ground covered with a miraculous fall of snow. His herd of cattle had stampeded during the night and tracing their hoof prints in the snow he finds them on the shore of "Templeport lake grazing towards the island. At the same time there was a house on the island inhabited by a weaver. In answer to the saints' enquiries, the weaver's wife informed him that a strange woman who had craved shelter the evening before had during the night given birth to a son, and that a hazel distaff that she had in her hand had burst forth into blossom. The weaver had taken his boat with him to look after his nets on the lake (the poor man was drowned on the homeward journey) and there was no means of sending the infant over for baptism. Urged by St. Killian the weaver's wife seeks for something flat on which to float the child over to the mainland. and told that anything will do. All she can see is the enormous flagstone, which forms the hearthstone in the cottage, and this she cannot move. She is told to place the child on it and she does so, when lo! The stone moves to her touch, and the infant is miraculously wafted to the other side of the lake. Having been baptised, the infant is brought back in the same miraculous manner and with him on the flagstone the wonderful bell- Mogue's Bell, a present from St. Killian, which was for centuries afterwards to be venerated in the island church.

Aerial photo of St Mogue's Island in Templeport Lake
Aerial photo of St Mogue's Island in Templeport Lake with Bellaboy, Lakefield, Bunerky & Brackley lakes behind. (The visibility of Brackley is divided by Airmount hill.).

The subsequent history of the flagstone is interesting. For centuries afterwards it plied to and fro from mainland to island whenever any of the Teallach Eathach were to be buried in the island graveyard, the coffin placed on the stone, which then without human agency conveyed it to the burial ground. One day a pair of local lovers endeavoured to test its powers. They took up position on the stone, which conveyed them out into the lake. Midway on the journey the stone cracked. One half sank to the bottom bringing with it the irreverent pair. The other half completed the journey to the island, where some say it may yet be seen. The holy water font of Kildoagh church and now in St. Mogue's church, Bawnboy, is said to be made from part of it. The shrine of the Bell of St. Mogue is now in the library of Armagh.

St Mogue's Island in Templeport Lake from the slipway
St Mogue's Island in Templeport Lake from the slipway

In partnership with Templeport Gun Club, Templeport Lake has been designated an official wildlife sanctuary.
 

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Last update: 9 October, 2009 22:51