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Site en.wikipedia :
Armoy (in Irish: Oirthear Maí, meaning "the east of the plain") is a small village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, 9 km south west of Ballycastle, adjacent to the A44 road between Ballymena and Ballycastle and 13 km north east of Ballymoney. In the 2001 Census it had a population of 414 people. In 1842 it had a population of 128 people and in 1899 it had 243 people. It is on the River Bush and lies within the Moyle District Council area. The village is situated between two of the nine Glens of Antrim, Glenshesk and Glentaisie. The Armoy area also contains half of the mountain of Knocklayd, which it shares with Ballycastle.
Places of interest
- There are the remains of a round tower on the edge of the village. An early monastery was once founded about AD460 by Saint Olcan, a disciple of Saint Patrick. The only trace of an early monastery is the stump of the Round Tower which stands in the grounds of St. Patrick's Parish Church. The tower is about 11 m high and has three storeys. At a time, Armoy was the main religious settlement in the Irish part of the kingdom of Dál Riata.
Site Cause Way Coast and Glens :
Armoy Round Tower
At the ancient crossroads of Carneagh, at the top of the two glens, is Saint Patrick’s Church of Armoy, in the grounds of which stands an eleventh or twelfth century round tower. The upper storey and cone-shaped roof are missing, but the remains of the lower part of the tower are in good condition. A church was founded here by Saint Olcan, who was Bishop of Armoy in 460AD and saved from dying at birth by Saint Patrick. Excavations at this church in 1997 revealed the 400-500 year old remains of a leper, an unusual discovery because normally one so affl icted was not buried in Church grounds.
Site Northantrim :
SAINT PATRICK'S CHURCH
Saint Patrick's ministry founded an Abbey and Church here in the 5th century, the land on which it stood was said to have been given to him by Fergus Mor MacEarca, son of Eric of Armoy, after Patrick had intervened in a dispute on inheritance between himself and his brothers. St. Patrick prophesised that Fergus would one day have his own kingdom, which came true. In 490AD, Fergus moved the throne of Dalriada from Ireland to Scotland and in doing so became the first Scots King to reign over Dalriada from Scotland. Fergus later drowned while returning from Scotland, the location of his death is today known as Carrickfergus (Rock of Fergus). It is known that Armoy was an important settlement in the kingdom of Dalriada and the monastery a focal point for scholastic learning with close links to Northumbria and Clonmacnoise. St.Olcan who became Bishop of Armoy was baptized at Dunseverick by St. Patrick and sent by him to study in France (Gaul). Some accounts refer to St.Olcan being the nephew of Fergus, others to him being found as an orphan. Next to the current church is the remains of the only round tower in North Antrim which dates to the 9th century. The present church was built in 1740 on the site of an older medieval church, the landscape surrounding the area is made up of drumlins left behind by the melt water of retreating glaciers some 10,000 years ago. You will also find an ancestral link here to Oscar Wilde, the Reverend Ralph Wilde buried in the churchyard was his great grandfather.
Site Stolcans :
St. Olcan - Patron of our School
This history of St. Olcan was written by Fr. McCrea who was curate in Cargin when our school was opened in 1958
St. Olcan was known as a youthful disciple of St. Patrick before the middle of the fifth century. He was a native of the kingdom of Dal Riada. This was an extensive area stretching from the north coast-line westwards towards the and southwards towards the Ravel (Glenravel). He became the Bishop of Armoy.
This was the administrative and ecclesial centre of jurisdiction for very many centuries. Even as late as 150 years ago, the fine church in Ballycastle, was one might say, founded in Armoy, as it was the principle church in the area.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that in those early times, after the coming of our national apostle, small churches and communities literally mushroomed and flourished throughout our land. St. Patrick was bringing faith to new people. He was teaching and instilling the doctrines of Christianity into the Gaelic people. One might express this process as in the Gospel. He was as it were, putting a new wine into new bottles. His followers and disciples became in a short time very enthusiastic. When dying in Rome in 1615, in a letter to Philip the Third of Spain, the old chieftain Hugh O'Neill said, "We accept the faith in the earliest times, and we have always been loyal to it".
St MacNissi too, who died in 514, was in part, a contemporary of St. Olcan though much older. He Became Bishop of Connor. Nowadays we use the term "Ordination" instead of the word 'Consecration' on the appointment of a Bishop. The ceremony and the blessing and ordination of St. Olcan took place near Dunseverick up on the north coast. We find an account of this history in Salmon's "The Ancient Irish Church" (page 164). This was between the years 455 and 460. The reason why this event took place at or near Dunseverick was that possibly Aengus, the chieftain in Dal Riada, who was the father of St MacNissi, resided in this area. Possibly there were 'Duns' and 'Forts' and 'Raths' a plenty. These Raths, in those times, were places were various events took place - such as meetings, games and banquets etc. We may note that when writing about St. Olcan, the historian used the word 'create'. He wrote, "On Creating St. Olcan…A Bishop At Dunseverick (Salmon, Page 194)
Another account too of the ordination of St. Olcan was written by the historian Tirechan, about the middle of the 7th century, and is entered in the Book of Armagh.
Relics - religious relics, we are told were donated by St. Patrick to St. Olcan. It may have been that St. MacNissi by this time, had already been on pilgrimage to Rome and to the Holy places. It is recorded that he even went to Jerusalem. We learn this from Salmon's History (page 195, footnote number 8). These were the relics of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, the Martyrs and bits from the Holy Sepulchre and relics of the Apostles. These early pilgrims, being big, strong young men, in their enthusiasm and zeal tramped from hospice to hospice to the tombs of the Apostles, to the holy places and even to Jerusalem itself. Certainly in the time of Pope Gregory (590 - 604) many Irish Pilgrims travelled to Rome seeking Relics. They were known as 'The Big Scoti' - The Big Irishmen.
There is an account of St. Patrick's journey up to Dunseverick. It was written in Latin. On his travels apparently, he was carried along in a sort of chariot or on a wagon drawn by oxen - "Per Buas" (sic) - "Per Boves" (He was an elderly man). In the old Latin version, the account was written as "Per Buas" that is his chariot was drawn by chariot was drawn by 'per buas'. But this version was later changed to 'per boves' - 'by oxen'. On is journey he crossed a stream (this would be the river bush). He also crossed a ravine or Glen - a 'foramen'.
During the tenth and eleventh centuries this rock promontory became the stronghold of the Norsemen. It is sad to relate - as we are told (O'Laverty) that the ceremonial stone chair used by St. Patrick on the occasion and the ordination of St. Olcan, was thrown over the cliffs in 1832. In tradition, and in antiquity, this chair had become a valuable heirloom. This vandalism shows us the ill-temper of those times.
True enough, St. Patrick in his time, ordained many Bishops. During the later centuries it would appear there were many Bishops. This was seemingly so in old documents and writings. But only some of those enumerated as Bishops, were in fact authentic, genuine Bishops. This needs to be explained. The old Gaelic word for "Easbog". For documents during the following years Latin came into general use and into Vogue. The Latin word for Bishop was "Episcop". As 'Easbog' seemed to be a little similar to "Episcop", this was written down in the full "Episcopus". This was interpreted and written down and translated, implying that the person was an authentic Bishop. Officials too, then added the name of a saint merely as an additive or honorary title. St. Colmanella was given the title of 'Bishop' while on Iona, though he was never made 'Bishop'.
Of Course the Gaelic words were used and in circulation for long years before Latin came into use. The word 'Eaglais' (church) preceded in the Latin 'Ecclesia' and the word Trampol (small chapel) was before "Trampuin".
St. Olcan is our Patron Saint. To have one as a disciple and a contemporary to St. Patrick himself, is an honour that adds lustre to the name of our school in Randalstown.