Showing posts from January, 2022

A Mermaid Saint

Two mermaid dolls 27th January is the feast day of St Muirgen, also known as Li Ban or Liban. She appears in a number of old Irish annals, such as the Martyrology of Donegal and the Annals of the Four Masters. There's nothing unsual about that: the history of Ireland is crammed to bursting with saints and martyrs. But what's unusual about Miurgen is that she is a mermaid. According to the stories, she was three hundred years under the sea, until the time of the saints. At that time, a man called Beoan was on a mission to Rome, at sea in his curragh (ship) when the ship caught a mermaid (liban) in its nets. She told him she was the the daughter of Eochaidh from Lough Neagh, who was changed to a mermaid when her family was drowned. They brought her to land, where she was baptised by St Comhgall under the name Muirgen (traverser of the sea). The calendar of St Oengus says of her: My God loved Muirgen, A miraculous triumphant being. I love it that there is a mermaid saint! That som

First Voyage of the Coracle

  This Saturday I became a full member of the Community of Aidan & Hilda , a dispersed New Monastic community inspired by Celtic Christian spirituality of the 1st millennium AD. Its members come from many different countries and branches of the church, but all follow a common Way of Life and daily prayer pattern, as well as meeting and supporting each other in various ways. (Mostly via Zoom since I’ve joined, for obvious reasons!) The vow-taking ceremony is called First Voyage of the Coracle, and the newly-vowed member is known as a Voyager. Any die-hard Narnia fans like me will remember a coracle as being the small, round boat Reepicheep the mouse finds in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader , and which eventually takes him to Aslan’s country. As a North Irishman and a medievalist, CS Lewis was influenced in writing Dawn Treader by the ancient Celtic tradition of the imrama journey, a symbolic, spiritual voyage that changes the voyager. One such example from medieval times is the Voyag