Synod at Mellifont

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XIV

In 1157 a synod was held in the Abbey of Mellifont, attended by the Bishop of Lismore, Legate of the Holy See, the Primate, and seventeen other bishops. Murtough O'Loughlin, the Monarch of Ireland, and several other kings, were also present. The principal object of this meeting was the consecration of the abbey church and the excommunication of Donough O'Melaghlin, who had become the common pest of the country. He was, as might be expected, the particular friend and ally of Dermod Mac Murrough. His last exploit was the murder of a neighbouring chief, despite the most solemn pledges. In an old translation of the Annals of Ulster, he is termed, with more force than elegance, "a cursed atheist." After his excommunication, his brother Dermod was made King of Meath, in his place.

At this synod several rich gifts were made to the abbey. O'Carroll, Prince of Oriel, presented sixty ounces of gold. O'Loughlin made a grant of lands, gave one hundred and forty cows and sixty ounces of gold. The Lady Dervorgil gave the same donation in gold, together with a golden chalice for the altar of Mary, with gifts for each of the other nine altars of the church. Dervorgil was the wife of Tiernan O'Rourke, Lord of Breffni, who had been dispossessed of his territories in 1152; at the same time she was carried off by Dermod Mac Murrough. Her abduction seems to have been effected with her own consent, as she carried off the cattle which had formed her dowry. Her husband, it would appear, had treated her harshly. Eventually she retired to the Monastery of Mellifont, where she endeavoured to atone for her past misconduct by a life of penance.

Another synod was held in the year 1158, at Trim. Derry was then erected into an episcopal see, and Flahertach O'Brolchain, Abbot of St. Columba's Monastery, was consecrated its first bishop. The bishops of Connaught were intercepted and plundered by Dermod's soldiers; they therefore returned and held a provincial synod in Roscommon.