Templeport = Teampall a' Phoirt, the
Church of the landing place.
The beautiful plain in which Templeport lake is centrally situated,
was originally called 'Breaghy', and the lake itself and its island,
known as 'Breaghy' lake and 'Breaghy' island. Breaghy = Bréach
mhaigh or wolf plain. These names have long since passed out of
use. The earliest known pastor of Templeport was Andrew Magauran
whose death created a vacancy which was filled by Manus Magauran,
appointed by Nicholas MacBrady, bishop of Kilmore, on 12th September
1414. The official title of the benefice was 'The perpetual vicarage
of Inis Breachmhaigh alias Tempull a puret'.
St Mogue's Island in Templeport Lake
It was on Breaghy Island, now known as Port or Inch, or Mogue's
island, that St. Mogue, the illustrious bishop of Ferns, was born.
Mogue's ancestry is traced back to Colla Uais, one of whose leading
families was the 'Fir Luirg' of Loch Erne. In the sixth century
the 'Fir Luirg' occupied, along with lands north of Lower Lough
Erne, the lands that lay south of Lower Lough Erne which was then,
and much later, regarded as part of Connacht. The father of Mogue
was Setna, son of Eirc, and his mother was Eithne who belonged
to the Ui Fhiachrach, so that paternally and maternally Mogue
was of noble origin. The Fir Luirg were an expansionist people,
and had taken possession of the Masraighe and Cathraighe territory,
and reduced this early population group to subjection. But they
had a constant struggle to maintain their dominant position, and
were forced to build their residences in strategic places like
'Inis Breachmhaigh' to defend themselves against the ancient inhabitants.
One night while his parents were sleeping, the vision of a star
descending from the heavens and falling on each, betokened the
future greatness and sanctity of their yet unborn child. Owing
to this circumstance, many persons afterwards called him 'Son
of the Star'. The day following, a report of this miraculous vision
spread abroad, and many wise persons predicted, that as a star
led the Magi to adore Christ, so in like manner did this same
sign portend, that a son should be born to his parents, full of
the Holy Spirit. And shortly afterwards, while travelling in a
chariot, Eithne was met by a Magus on the way. Having heard the
sound of the vehicle, this magician said to his companions: 'This
chariot runs under a king'. On meeting the chariot and finding
it occupied by Setna's wife and her companion, he said to the
former: 'Woman, thou hast conceived a wonderful son, and he shall
be full of God's grace'.
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 in which it has been told by several of the old people.
It is practically identical with the account given in the Martyrology
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 tracking their hoof-prints
in the snow he finds them on the shore of Templeport lake gazing
towards the island. At the same time there was a house on the
island inhabited by a weaver, and in answer to the saint's 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 which she had held 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 - which was for centuries afterwards to be venerated in the
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 being 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, and the other half completed its
journey to the island, where some say it may yet be seen. The
holy water font in Kildoagh Church and now in St. Mogue's Church,
Bawnboy is said to be made from part of it.
When Mogue was a young boy in his parents' home, Ainmire, King
of Ireland required him as a hostage from his father. His father
is said to have been a powerful noble. Other hostages of the same
area are said to have been his fellow captives. While under that
monarch's keeping, Ainmire was impressed with Mogue's modest and
innocent deportment. 'This boy is a favourite' said the King 'and
he must remain with me in the royal palace, or if he so desires,
I shall send him back free to his parents'. Mogue replied, 'If
my lord King thou art my patron, I beseech thee in the name of
God, whom I wish to serve, that you would liberate these boys
who were brought here with me'. The monarch immediately granted
his request, dismissing all the hostages to their several places
of abode, and at the instance of our saint, Ainmire recommended
himself to the prayers of Mogue, predicting at the same time that
he should afterwards become a great pillar of the Church.
Then Mogue went to St. Finian's school at Clonard where he met
St. Molaise of Devenish with whom he formed a life-long friendship.
The following story of their youthful days is recorded in various
Lives of both Saints. Towards the end of their schooldays the
two friends were seated one day in the shade of two trees discussing
their future, and praying for direction whether they should remain
together or work apart. Thereupon the tree which shaded Molaise
inclined towards the north and that under which Mogue sat inclined
towards the south. Molaise, going north founded the monastery
of Devenish in Loch Erne, and Mogue (though not immediately) going
south, founded the monastery of Ferns in the present County Wexford.
St. Mogue founded many monasteries the first of which was on
the island, Inis Breachmhaigh (now St. Mogue's island) in Templeport
Lough. This church was the chief religious centre in Templeport
throughout the whole mediaeval period, at first on the island
itself and then jointly on the island and the mainland pier, leading
to the island sanctuary. Port means the landing bank or pier.
We do not know the date of the foundation on the island, but Roman
documents of 1414 and 1426 show that the church on the mainland
had been built. The original site - the one on the island - was
not dropped and forgotten. Its name was preserved and incorporated
in the joint title, St. Mogue's of Inis Breachmhaigh and St. Mary's,
Templeport. There are carved stones on St. Mogue's Island graveyard
as well as the ruins of a church. Professor Davies in his book
'The Churches of Co. Cavan' states that these stones may belong
to the 16th century, as well as the ruins of a stone church which
was probably reconstructed in the 18th century. It can be said
that throughout the whole Penal Times period, Mass was furtively
celebrated, intermittently on St. Mogue's Island. The McKiernan
brothers, Pat and Francis, Killymoriarty, were in their time very
proud to declare that their ancestors had attended Mass on St.
Mogue's Island. The mainland church was confiscated in 1590 under
the terms of the 3rd Inquisition of Queen Elizabeth and transferred
to the State Church of King James 1st in 1609. The present church
on the mainland, St. Peter's, was built or reconstructed in 1815.
June 1939 - Photo taken by Fr Brown S.J. ("the Protestant Priest") who was giving a mission in Kilnavart Church.
Location: Templeport Lake enroute to St Mogue's Island. Subjects: Canon Tiernan (18 years old). Boatman, Micheal McGovern
Before we leave Inch Island or St. Mogue's, it should be mentioned
that for hundreds of years it was used as a burial ground. It
is now officially closed except for a few families whose ancestors
are buried there. It is easy to understand why people should wish
to be laid to rest in such a peaceful spot. Twenty-five graves
are marked there with headstones and crosses. There is a tradition
which states that a pathway of stepping-stones connected the island
with the mainland, but through time the stones sank. St. Mogue's
clay (or mortar) which can be collected inside the ruins of the
old church on the island is said to be an insurance against fire
or drowning. It featured in the story of the Titanic disaster
when Mary McGovern, Corlough, attributed her rescue to the St.
Mogue's clay which she carried on her person.
St. Mogue having built his church on the island on which he was
born, and having put in place the personnel to carry out its religious
functions, then moved eastward to continue his missionary work.
This brought him to Drumlane. Here he founded one of his greatest
monasteries. In the townland of Derrintinny a mile to the east
of Drumlane Monastery is St. Mogue's well. There is also a holy
well dedicated to him in the townland of Kilnacross at which he
baptised Aodh Dubh, King of Breifne. The island of Inishmuc beside
Drumlane is called in Gaelic Inis Moaedhóg - St. Mogue's
Continuing his missionary work St. Mogue moved into Leinster
where he cured the King, Brandubh, of a severe illness and the
King in return granted him lands on which he later on built the
monastery of Ferns. It was to Wales that St. Mogue next turned.
There he came under the monastic rule of St. David of Menevia.
There are many incidents recorded about him during his stay with
St. David, bishop of Menevia.
A steward placed over St. David's monastery developed a hatred
for Mogue. The steward one day told Mogue, who was reading, to
go to the forest to bring back wood. Many of his companions had
gone there earlier in the day. Mogue obeyed instantly. He was
given two untamed oxen to pull a wagon, and the steward gave him
a yoke without irons. Notwithstanding all this the yoke stayed
perfectly attached to the oxen, and accompanied by a small boy
they set out for the wood. Mogue followed the tracks his companions
had taken in the morning. The untamed oxen behaved perfectly and
they came to where a large morass of bog lay between them and
the forest. They would have to do a long circuit. The young boy
said 'What a pity the road doesn't run through the bog'. Mogue
answered 'Make a sign of the cross on your heart and eyes and
you will see the power of God'. St. Mogue then turned his oxen
and wagon towards the bog. Immediately a direct way opened before
him and remained there afterwards. When Mogue came to his fellow
disciples all of them gave thanks to God.
The holy Bishop, St. David observed the great acts of Mogue but
the steward was still resentful towards him. His resentment was
so great that he urged a workman to slay Mogue with an axe. As
the axe was raised the workman's hands withered and lost their
power. Confessing his crime he sought pardon from his intended
victim. Mogue however, offered prayers to God and the man's hands
Mogue having been instructed in all sacred knowledge and being
eminent for his miracles and virtues, asked permission from St.
David and his monks to leave their institution and return to Ireland.
This he obtained with their blessing and taking some disciples
with him, St. Mogue set sail for Ireland.
As he approached the shore of Ireland, he beheld robbers despoiling
and wounding some strangers who fell into their hands. St. Mogue
sounded a cymbal from the sea, which when he heard it, the Chief
of the robbers said 'This is a trumpet sound from a man of God'.
The violence ceased. The chief robber a rich and powerful man,
sent his men to carry Mogue from the boat to the shore. The Chief
gave a tract of land as an offering to God and to St. Mogue, and
his chief soldier named Dymma did the same. The lands lay in Hy-Kinsellagh.
Our Saint afterwards caused many churches to be built in that
part of the country.
Mogue then wished to enter Munster - the Decies district in Co.
Waterford. By a miracle he passed over the river Suir and built
a monastery in Disert-Nairbre in the Diocese of Ardmore. At one
time St. Mogue wished to build a church but could not find a builder.
Trusting in God he blessed the hands of a certain uninstructed
person named Gobban. Immediately the man became a most ingenious
architect and built St. Mogue's church in his best architectural
style. One day the Economus of St. Mochua of Lothra came to Mogue
and told him they were about to build a church. The timber was
cut but they had not the men or oxen for bringing it to the site.
Our saint told him to return to his cell and not look upon whatever
took place during that night. But a certain simple lay brother
peeped through openings in the door-lock, and saw a multitude
of beautiful well-formed youths with golden locks flowing down
their shoulders, and bearing wood. A voice was heard saying to
those youths, which proved to be angels: 'Cease from this labour'.
The activities ceased immediately. Afterwards however, the architect
Gobban completed this building.
What is substantially the same story of building by angels, is
told in Ballaghameehan and Rossinver, about St. Mogue's Abbey
After an arduous missionary career but still full of energy,
Mogue left Ferns and returned to Drumlane. There he had a strange
and wondrous vision. An angel through St. Colmcille interpreted
the vision which commanded that St. Mogue should raise another
honourable place in addition to Drumlane. St. Mogue went to Rossinver
where he built 'a strong and ample oratory, and a fair-built quadrangular
regular church in preparation for his resurrection'. It was there,
by Lough Melvin's shore that he died and there in his own church
he was buried. St. Mogue's well, a fine spring is close by and
near the lakeshore.
Mrs. Ward’s funeral 1984
THE BREAC MOAEDHÓG
According to an ancient MS. biography of St. Molaise of Devenish,
preserved in the Royal Irish Academy, the saint went on a pilgrimage
to Rome, from which he returned carrying with him some clay from
the tombs of the Apostles, together with some precious relics
bestowed on him by Pope John III (560-573A.D.). Returning to Ireland
he visited his friend St. Mogue, with whom he shared his treasures.
The shrine or reliquary, known as the Breac Mogue, in which these
treasures were kept was for long one of the most precious possessions
of Drumlane monastery. After the confiscation of the monastery
the shrine, which was said to resemble the old church of Drumlane
remained in the possession of the Erenachs of Drumlane, the McGaghran
In the 18th century the parish priest of Drumlane had custody
of the shrine, which was used for the administration of oaths
in lieu of a testament. It was believed that any one taking a
false oath upon it would suffer grievous visible judgment. The
shrine was often borrowed and to ensure its safe return, one guinea
deposit was paid. In 1846 a borrower sold it to a Dublin jeweller,
but the great antiquarian, Dr. Petrie, bought it back. It is now
in the National Museum.
The shrine is a bronze case 7.25" in height and 8.875"
in length. It is shaped like a cottage or early church. The front
of the shrine, including the slope of the roof was decorated with
more that twenty figures of saints embossed in high relief. Of
these figures only eleven still remain. The Polaire, or leather
case in which the shrine was carried is also preserved with it
in the National Museum.
Another very interesting relic of St. Mogue is the Clog Mogue,
or shrine of St. Mogue's Bell - a present from St. Caillin to
the baby Mogue at his baptism. St. Mogue presented the bell to
his native Inis Breachmhaigh, the parish of Templeport, where
its hereditary custodians were the Magaurans. Like the Breac it
became the talisman upon which oaths were sworn, especially in
cases where an oath on the Testament could not be relied upon.
A false oath on the Clog Mogue was believed to be followed by
a visible manifestation of Divine wrath and some remarkable confirmations
of this belief are still related by the people. For a long span
of 1200 years the shrine remained in the possession of the Magauran
family, until about 1833, when the last Magauran keeper died,
and his son-in-law a man named Kelleher, sold it to the Rev. Marcus
Beresford. Later it was presented to the Library of Armagh, where
it is now preserved.
Of the bell itself only three fragments exist, two of which are
attached to the case. The shrine is 9" high and the base
measures 7" by 5". It is greatly injured and the top
The Shrine of the Bell of St. Moaedhóg