St Caillín’s shrine

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St Caillín’s shrine was donated to Fenagh by Brian O’Rourke, lord of west Breifne, in 1536. It was held in St Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, from c. 1980 until it was rescued in early January 2010 from the ruins of the cathedral following a disastrous fire there on Christmas Day 2009. It is inextricably linked with the Book of Fenagh but the question of whether St Caillín’s shrine can be defined as a ‘book-shrine’ still remains open. It was not large enough to accommodate the Book of Fenagh, but may instead have contained the fragmentary ‘Old Book of Caillín’. It is also possible that it never contained anything at all. An inscription on the shrine reads as follows: ‘Pray for the man who covered the shrine of Caillín, that is, Brian, son of Eoghan O’Ruairc, and for Margaret, daughter of O’Brien, and the year of our Lord was 1536. A Hail Mary’. Severely damaged in the cathedral fire, it is currently undergoing restoration by Dr Paul Mullarkey at the National Museum of Ireland.

Above: St Caillín’s Shrine before the fire in 1989. (NMI)


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