There are many stories and legends about Saint Manchán, remembered vividly today even though he lived in the 14 centuries ago. He founded a monastery in the year 645 AD, at a place now called Leamanaghan, just outside the village of Clara in West County Offaly.
|Graveyard at Saint Manchán's church|
|Offerings left at Saint Manchán's Well|
|Saint Manchán's Well|
In September 2012, I took my tour group to see the shrine at the parish church in Boher, County Offaly, where the Mooney family have been guardians of the shrine since it was made 900 years ago. When we arrived, we found that the shrine had been stolen sometime during the previous June. Fortunately, the thieves were a couple of knuckleheaded treasure-hunters, and had been caught very shortly after committing the crime. The shrine was recovered, but was not back in its case in the church immediately, for obvious reasons.
However, just this past Sunday, May 25, Saint Manchán's shrine was returned to its home in the Boher parish church, where people can see it any time the church is open. Needless to say, security has been improved, with a CCTV, an alarm system, and a special secure case.
Read about the return of the shrine in the Offaly Independent.
The most amazing thing about this story is that a 12th-century shrine should still be held at the parish church where it had always been kept, and that a particular local family would have been charged with keeping it safe. I tried to incorporate that hereditary role of certain families, given responsibility for important books and artifacts, in The Book of Killowen.
I'm delighted to see this gorgeous piece of medieval metalwork back in its proper home, and looking forward to a visit to Boher Church this coming September!