Saint Mura

St Mura. (From the O'Neill chapel, Lisbon)
The above image is taken from Twixt Foyle and Swilly by Harry Swan.

Saint Mura 551 - 645
St Mura was born in south Co. Down in an area called Dál Fiatach. He was directly descended from Eoghain, son of Niall of the nine hostages who died 543. Mura arrived in Fahan around the year 600 and founded his humble Tearmann which grew into a thriving monastic site on account of the exalted veneration in which he was held.
Mura was granted further fertile lands by Aedh Uairíonach (d. 631) who held kingship from 604 to 612. Mura himself died in 645 and his resting place is located marked by the iconic cross slab in the graveyard. He became the patron saint of Inis Eoghain and the greater Cineál Eoghain with his feast day given in the martyrologies as 12th of March.
The name Fahan has appeared in many guises through the centuries. Historian, the late Fr. Ciarán J. Devlin in his book The making of Medieval Derry, maintains that it is derived from the name of the small river, Abhainn Othain, which runs through the monastic settlement. Thus the monastery became Othain-Mura. He states that for pronunciation purposes it was customary, in Gaelic, to precede words beginning with O with the letter F, hence we get Fothain-Mura.
The abbey of Fahan continued to grow and thrive with many notable abbots such as Cillín Ó Colla (d. 724) and Fotha na Canóine (d. 818) and Rabhartach Ó Ceallaigh (d. 1136).
Left behind are a few relics of his age such as Bachall Mhura, his pastoral staff, kept by the Royal Irish Academy, and his abbot's bell is held in the Wallace Collection in London.

His ancestry 
Niall Naoighiallach - d. 453
Eoghain - d. 465
Muireadhach Muindearg (the red backed) - d. 489 
Eoghain Méarchroim  (of the bent finger)
Fearadhach - married to Deirinill Ceatharchíochach
Mura - d. 645

The career of St Mura overlapped with that of St Colmcille and he wrote a verse life of the saint, which is no longer extant, although the 'Martyrology of Donegal' quotes a verse of poetry about him, attributed to Mura, by Mánus Ó Dónaill in his 16th century 'Beatha Cholm Cille' - 

Rugadh i nGartán dá dheoin
oileadh i gCill Mhic Neoin
baisteadh mac na maise 
i dTulaigh Dé Dubhglaise 

He was born in Gartan by God's will
He was reared at Kilmacrennan
The comely young man was baptised 
at the godly hill of the dark church

To learn more about Saint Mura click here.

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