Did you know that the first place the plague of AD 664 was recorded in Ireland was in Co. Carlow! The exact location was the famed religious settlement of Rath Melsigi, founded by the great St Ecgberct of Rath Melsigi & Iona.
Recently County Carlow welcomed a delegation from Echternach, Luxembourg, led by Yves Wengler, Mayor of Echternach, as part of the ongoing renewal of friendship between both areas. The highlights of the visit were the signing of a Friendship Agreement between both Councils and the unveiling of the restored early medieval Cross of Rath Melsigi. In AD 690, St. Willibrord, Patron Saint of Luxembourg, First Apostle of the Netherlands, departed County Carlow after spending twelve years at the famed monastic settlement of Rath Melsigi and undertook his mission to the continent. In AD 698 he established his major monastery in the town of Echternach. His monastery also had a scriptorium which over the centuries produced many fabulous manuscripts. Cllr. John Pender, Cathaoirleach of Carlow County Council, led the welcome by Carlow County Council. Continue reading
This speech was delivered by Dermot Mulligan, Curator of Carlow County Museum, at the celebration of the Feast of St. Molaise/ St. Laserian, St. Laserian’s Cathedral, Old Leighlin. Co. Carlow, Saturday, April 20th* 2019
“Dia diaobh go leir. Thank you to the Very Reverend Tom Gordon, Fr. Pat Hennessy, Parish Priest of Leighlin and to Fr. Tom Lalor, retired Parish Priest of Leighlin, for the invitation to address you this evening. The significance of the occurrence of the Feast of St. Laserian during Holy Week should not be lost on us. Continue reading
Tuesday 11th June sees the annual UNESCO World Heritage Status ‘hopping procession’ taking place in Echternach, Luxembourg, in honour of St. Willibrord, their Patron Saint. Over 10,000 people will participate in the procession where they will hop from one foot to the other and they are known as “those who pray with their feet”.
Willibrord, an Anglo-Saxon from Northumbria, England, spent twelve years at Rath Melsigi, Milford, County Carlow, being formed as a missionary monk. He is one of the most important Saints in Europe. In AD 690, Willibrord led a very successful mission to Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where his impact is evident to this day.
In November, we were delighted to be invited by the St. Jakobus und Johannes Gilde, Emmerich am Rhein, Germany (Guild of St. John and St. James Rhineland), to attend their conference in the town of Kalkar to present a paper on St. Willibrord and his County Carlow connection. St. Willibrord and his missionaries spent time in that area and his influence is still there to this day. St. Willibrord was appointed the first Archbishop of Utrecht, the Netherlands, which borders the Rhineland. Dermot Mulligan, Museum Curator, presented a paper in which he explained St. Willibrord’s training at Rath Melsigi, Co. Carlow and the influence of Irish monks in the 6th and 7th centuries. The Guild are planning a visit to Carlow and Ireland in the Autumn of 2019. Close to Kalkar is the town of Emmerich which is home to the Church of St. Martin. Contained in the church is a beautiful 7th century Relic that was presented to St. Willibrord by Pope Sergius in AD 695 in Rome when Willibrord was installed as the first Archbishop of Utrecht. Continue reading
On Friday August 31st 2018 we were delighted to welcome His Excellency, Pierre-Emmanuel de Bauw, Ambassador of Belgium to Ireland, to visit Carlow County Museum and Carlow Cathedral. Ambassador de Bauw visited both locations to hear about St. Willibrord’s connection to the county, as Belgium is one of the countries his 7th century mission visited and still has devotion to him to this day. Continue reading
In celebration of the Feast of St Willibrord, Patron Saint of Luxembourg and his Co Carlow connection the Right Reverend Michael Burrows, Bishop of Ossory, Cashel, Ferns, Lismore, Waterford and Leighlin along with the Most Reverend Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin invited 5th and 6th class pupils in primary schools in Co. Carlow to take part in an art competition.
Tuesday last, the winners of the competition gathered in Carlow County Museum, with their proud parents to accept their plaques and a class arts supply voucher from Bishop Burrows, Bishop Nulty and Cllr. Fergal Browne, Chair of Carlow County Museum.
First place went to Hannah Kehoe 6th Class Borris N.S., second place to Zach Cassells 6th Class, Carlow N. S. and joint third place to Kacper Gniedziejko 6th Class, Scoil Molaise and Catelyn James Gibbons 6th Class, St Mary’s N. S. Continue reading
On Monday the 7th of November at 7.00pm in St Laserian’s Cathedral, Old Leighlin the Feast of St Willibrord, Patron Saint of Luxembourg and his Co Carlow connection will be celebrated with an ecumenical service led by the Right Reverend Michael Burrows, Bishop of Ossory, Cashel, Ferns, Lismore, Waterford and Leighlin along with the Most Reverend Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. This will be followed by a lecture by Professor Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Department Of History, NUI Galway on Clonmelsh, Willibrord, and Carlow’s Contribution to the Anglo-Saxon mission on the continent in the 8th century. All are welcome to attend.
St Willibrord was born near York in England and he is the Patron Saint of Luxembourg. He was trained and ordained at a religious site located in the townland of Garryhundon, Co Carlow commonly referred to as Killogan, Rath Melsigi (Rathmelsh) or Clonmelsh Graveyard. During the seventh and eighth centuries this site was the most important Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical settlement in Ireland. It was here from 678AD to c. 720AD that Willibrord and many other Englishmen were trained for the continental mission. He is buried in the Basilica of Echternach, Luxembourg which is the centre of his monastery.
The evening in St. Laserian’s Cathedral will begin at 7.00pm with ‘Vespers of Saint Willibrord’ an ecumenical service led by the Bishop Michael Burrows, and Bishop Denis Nulty. This will be followed (7.45pm) by a lecture by Prof. Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, Department of History, NUI Galway on the history and importance of Clonmelsh, Willibrord, and Carlow’s Contribution to the Anglo-Saxon mission on the continent in the 8th century. Since the early 1980s Prof Ó Cróinín has been researching and publishing articles on the connection with Carlow and the continental missions. In 690AD Willibrord led a successful mission from Carlow, made up of Irishmen and Englishmen. As part of his abbey in Echternach he established a very important scriptorium and for a considerable period of time the Abbey produced many of the bibles, psalms and prayer–books that are to be found today in the great libraries of Europe. It is likely that the first generation of these scribes were from Co. Carlow or had trained here. Many of the earliest Anglo-Saxon manuscripts were written in Irish script either by Irish monks based in Britain or by Anglo-Saxons who were trained by the Irish. From Echternach he continued to co-ordinate missions to the surrounding countries until 739AD, when he died aged 81.
Great devotion and religious festivals are still held to this day in his honour and in particular a hopping procession, a dance that dates back to, if not predates St. Willibrord’s life time. The hopping procession which takes place annually on the Tuesday after Pentecost Sunday sees thousands of people from across Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland and Germany descending on Echternach to partake This unique procession coupled with the European importance of the Abbey saw the procession granted UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2010.
In June 2017 both Bishop Burrows and Nulty will lead a joint Diocesan Pilgrimage to Echternach, the town in Luxembourg where St Willibrord is buried in the vault of the monastery he established there. This is one of the highlights of a programme devised for 2017 to celebrate the historical connection between the two areas. The pilgrimage bookings are being coordinated through Tully’s Travel Agents, Carlow Town.