Saturday, November 14, 2009


The icon above is by the late Sr. Aloysius McVeigh and is kept in the parish church in Glendalough.

Today is a feast day in the Archdiocese of Dublin as we honour our patron Naoimh Lorcan Ua Tuathail or Lawrence O'Toole (1128-1180) Archbishop of Dublin and a member of the a leading noble family of Leinster. His life overlaps and is comparable with that of St. Thomas a Becket (1118 – 29 December 1170). He was given into the care of the Church after a period as a hostage and became a monk at St. Kevin's monastery at Glendalough. In 1154, at the age of 26 he was made abbot. As abbot he was a reformer but also a man possessed of great compassion for the poor, a feature of his ministry as Bishop. To the end of his life he wore a hair shirt and fasted on Fridays on bread and water yet was ever the generous host with his guests.
In Dublin he had a hard job. The tiny city was a viking (Danish and Norwegian)city. He was the first Irish (Gaelic) bishop and the son of a Gaelic prince but he had the support of the clergy and the people especially after his work during a famine. He was a true pastor and a man of peace. With the arrival of the Normans to aid Diarmait against the other Irish princes Ireland began her long saga of English interference in her affairs and Lorcan found himself 'uncle-in-law' to Strongbow.
He worked to build peace between the invaders and the out-classed Irish.
At the same time he sought to reform the Dublin diocese. He repaired the cathedral and worked to restore clerical discipline. He attended the Third Lateran Council and so impressed the Pope that he was made a Legate. While on another mission for the High King he took ill and died at Eu in Normandy. An Irish historian has suggested that there is something suspicious in the award of Irish lands to the canons of Eu after the death of Lorcan. Did Henry II fins a less obvious way to rid himself of another troublesome priest?

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