Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Saint Colum Cille and the Mulroy Fishermen

One thing that I have learnt since I started researching the holy men of Ireland is that it really does not do to cross the saints or fail to be anything other than completely open with them. In the story below, taken from Henry P. Swan's Romantic Stories and Legends of Donegal, we see what happens to the fishermen of Mulroy bay when they begrudge Saint Colum Cille a share of their catch:

A Legend of Mulroy Bay

While fish abound in the waters of Lough Swilly on the right hand and Sheephaven on the left, they are exceedingly scarce in Mulroy Bay. This is the story explaining it.

It happened on his travels through Donegal that Saint Columcille came to Mulroy. Now the fishermen saw him coming and as they had only caught two salmon they grudged a gift to the saint. So one of them said "Hide the fish. We have none to spare if he does be asking us."

When Columcille came to them, he blessed them and their work and asked, "Did you catch any?" The replied that they hadn't but the saint knew that it was a lie, so he said to them, "if you didn't catch anything may you catch now; and if you did catch, may you never catch again."

From that day to this, scarcely a trout or salmon has been caught in the waters of Mulroy Bay.

H. P. Swan, Romantic Stories and Legends of Donegal, (Belfast, 1965), 157-158.

Today, however, Mulroy Bay is a centre for aquaculture, particularly salmon farming!

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