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Patron of the Archdiocese of Tuam, born in Connaught about 445; died 26 December, (al., 11 Feb.), about 540. Jarlath is regarded as the founder and principle patron of the Archdiocese of Tuam in Galway, Ireland. He belonged to the Conmaicne family, perhaps the most important and powerful family in Galway during that period.

Having studied under St. Benen (Benignus), he founded a monastery at Cluian Fois (Cloonfush), just outside Tuam, and presided over that monastery as abbot-bishop. The monastery soon attracted scholars from all parts of Ireland. The fame of Cluian Fois is sufficiently attested by two of its pupils, St. Brendan of Ardfert, and St. Colman of Cloyne.

But, great teacher as he was, he went, through humility, to avail himself of the instruction of St. Enda at Arran about 495. He removed to Tuam about the second decade of sixth century.

St. Jarlath is included in the second order of Irish saints, and on that account he must have lived to the year 540. The "Felire" of Aengus tells us that he was noted for his fasting, watching, and mortification. Three hundred times by day and three hundred times by night did this saint bend the knee in prayer, and he was also endowed with the gift of prophecy.

His feast is kept on 6 June, being the date of the translation of his relics to a church specially built in his honour, adjoining the cathedral of Tuam. His remains were encased in a silver shrine, whence the church--built in the thirteenth century--was called Teampul na scrín, that is the church of the shrine.

Another Life...

St. Jarlath, Bishop of Tuam
(c.A.D. 550)

The archdiocese of Tuam in Galway venerates St. Jarlath as its principal patron and as the founder of its ancient episcopal seat. This saint is not to be identified with his earlier namesake, one of St. Patrick's disciples, who became bishop of Armagh, and whose festival is kept on February 11. St. Jarlath of Tuam ranks with the second class of Irish saints, viz. those whose activities belong rather to the sixth than to the fifth century. No traditional "acts" are available for the reconstruction of the saint's history: only a bare outline of his career can be derived from allusions to him in glosses of late date--allusions which are often puzzling and do not always agree. His father is said to have belonged to the noble Conmaicne family which dominated a large district in Galway, and his mother, called Mongfinn, or the Lady of the Fair Tresses, was the daughter of Cirdubhan of the Cenneans. The date of his birth is quite unknown.

In early youth he was sent to be trained by a holy man, who eventually ordained him and his cousin Caillin, or perhaps presented them for ordination. St. Benignus is quoted by some writers as having been that master, but Benignus died about the year 469, when Jarlath could scarcely have been old enough for the priesthood. It seems probable that the writers were confusing him with the other Jarlath, who succeeded St. Benignus in the see of Armagh. As a priest St. Jarlath is supposed to have returned to his native district, where he founded a monastery at Cluain Fois--the meadow of rest--a short distance from the present town of Tuam. Over this community he ruled as abbot-bishop, honoured by all for his piety and learning. In connection with the monastery he opened a school which attained great renown. Among his pupils were St. Brendan of Clonfert, and St. Colman son of Lenine, the "royal bard of Munster", who went to study at Cluain Fois after he had been induced by St Brendan and St Ita to renounce his worldly career.

St Jarlath appears to have died about the middle of the sixth century. His feast is kept throughout Ireland.

The whole matter is very uncertain, though Colgan, "Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae", vol. i, pp. 307-308, professes to give some account of this saint. There are references to him in Healy, Ireland's Ancient Schools and Scholars; J. Ryan, Irish Monasticism; and O'Hanlon, LIS. And see "Acta Sanctorum", November, vol. iv, pp. 147-186.

From Butler's Lives of the Saints, Complete Edition, Edited, Revised, and Supplemented by Herbert J. Thurston, S.J. and Donald Attwater, Christian Classics, a division of Thomas More Publications, Allen, Texas

Images of St Jarleth's church at Tuam

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