Home Manx LifeSaints St Maughold, Patron Saint, Isle of Man

St Maughold, Patron Saint, Isle of Man

by Bernadette Weyde


There were two days on the Manx Calendar dedicated to St. Maughold.  July 31st was known as “Laa’l Maghal Toshee,” “Maughold’s chief (or foremost) feast-day” and November 15th as “Laa’l Maghal Geuree”, “Maughold’s winter feast-day”.  On both days fairs were held at Kirk Maughold.  It is difficult to assign any reason for the fact that two days were dedicated to St. Maughold in Man, but similar instances are found elsewhere.

In the ‘Martyrology of Donegal’ we find “Machud Episcopus” under date November 15th, and in the ‘Scottish Calendar of Saints,’ “Machutus,” bishop and confessor, November 15, A.D. 565. The Irish “Machud” was Latinized into “Machutus” and “Magholdus,” and the modern form “Maughold” is simply the Latin form “Machaldus” shorn of its suffix.

Maughold  has several legends attached to him.  He was said to have been converted by St. Patrick in Ireland and sent to the sea in a coracle padlocked on to a chain, the key being thrown into the River Boyne.  He was instructed not to loose the chain until the key had been found and returned to him.  Stranded on Maughold Head, he was shown hospitality by the Bishop of the Island and ultimarely became a priest.  On the eve of his ordination the cook brought in a key which he had found in the belly of  a fish which he had been dressing for their dinner.  This was, of course, the key which was destined to release Maughold of his chain.

Another legend makes Somerlid and Gil Colum come to the Island on a plundering expedition.  The latter intended to plunder Kirk Maughold, where the inhabitants had placed their valuables for safety.  The former chief objected, but Gil Colum persisted with his plan.  The saint, however, appeared to him in a vision and struck him to the heart.  Gil Colum shrieked with pain, relinquished his plans and sent to the clergy of the church to intercede for him.  They, however, cursed him and a swarm of filthy flies buzzed around the ruffian’s face and mouth and could not be driven away.  And…about the sixth hour of the day he expired in great misery and torture.

A further legend says Maughold was an Irish Prince, who had formerly been the chief of banditti (brigands/freebooters), and having been converted and baptized by St, Patrick, he resolved to avoid temptation by abandoning the world.

He embarked in a wicker boat, which drifted before the north wind towards the Isle of Man, where he was cast ashore at the headland still known by his name. He afterwards retired to a cave in the mountains, where, by the austerity of his manners and fervent piety, he became so eminent that he was unanimously chosen Bishop of Man by the natives, A.D. 498.

(sources: Place-names of the Isle of Man by JJ Kneen, 1925; http://bit.ly/12oCIYZ; A Manx Notebook http://bit.ly/12ckpqe; artwork of Celtic saint by Rowena Lewgalon http://bit.ly/12L6RfL; gorse background from google)

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