NESTLING quietly in the North-East corner 0[-' Co. Carlow on the Wicklow border, is that celebrated locality of Clonmore or Cluain Mor Meadhoc which means "Mogue's large meadow" called after St. Mogue who founded a religious community here and built a monastery about the year 560.
St. Mogue presided over this monastery until his death, probably in the early years of the seventh century. In these years the numbers of those that gained in learning and piety were countless. One recorded estimate gives the number that habited this settlement at one time as 5,000 monks and scholars.
St. Mogue and several other saints who were associated with the monastery are buried in Clonmore, probably in the ancient cemetery which exists today and which appears to be the only remaining visible portion of the original monastery.
St. Finan is said to have presided over the monastery from' 650 up to 680. He also had charge of the Abbeys of Innisfallen in Kerry and Ardfinane in Tipperary. He was known as Finan the leper on account of a loathsome disease from which he suffered with tremendous patience. It is told that a peasant woman horribly disfigured by leprosy implored St. Finan to cure her and during his fervent prayers for her, he was told through a vision, that the woman would be cured, but he would have to bear the leprosy.
St. Onchu who was renowned as a poet and was keenly interested in history and antiquities was born about the middle of the sixth century. During his religious life he developed a very close friendship with St. Mogue and St. Finan. This is understandable as he is reputed to have been over 100 years old when he died. They agreed that when death called them they should be buried, side by side. Onchu sought and obtained permission from his superiors to visit all the places in Ireland which were noted for sanctity so that he could compile accounts of their history and collect relics and memorials of some of the saintly people of that time. For years Onchu travelled throughout Ireland and collected a vast amount and on one of his return visits to the monastery at Clonmore he asked St. Mogue for a memorial to add to his collection.
St. Mogue refused this request because he considered himself unworthy to give anything to this saintly collection and immediately, his thumb, as if cut off, fell into the casket that St. Onchu was holding.
Tradition has it that Onchu, Mogue and Finan and the casket of relics are buried side by side in accordance with their wishes and the shaft of a large stone cross marks the spot of their final resting place in Clonmore cemetery.
St. Brogan Cloen wrote
* I hear not in any Province between Earth and Heaven,
* Of a Cluain like the Holy Relig of Adh find.
* A delightful place of resurrection (it is) where are the relics of the Saints of Eireann,
* Ninety score crumties and five thousand great wonder workers,
* With Mogue Ua Dunlaing are their graves.
St. Brogan Cloen lived for some time in the monastery at Clonmore probably around the years 620 to 650. While there he composed that famous Hymn in praise of St. Brigid. It is preserved in an ancient manuscript in Trinity College, Dublin.
St. Stephen or Straffan was another saint of Clonmore. He was a brother of St. Laserian and St. Gobban both of Leighlin. It is thought that this saint succeeded St. Mogue in the government of the monastery in the years before and after 615.
St. Ternoc or Ternog, St. Lassa or Lassair, St. Dinertach, and St. Cumman are other saints that had charge of the monastery and are buried in Clonmore.
Clonmore is referred to twelve times in the Annals of the Four Masters which is 'an indication of the important position held by the monastic abbey down through the centuries.
St. Mogue's Well is situated a very short distance west of the ancient cemetery on the north side of t.he road. There is a spring well beside a small .stream. Alongside is a little granite boulder, 25 ins. long and 13 ins. broad at its widest point. At one end is a hollow. A groove runs down the length of the boulder.
The water from this stone is traditionally renowned for its curative powers and in thanksgiving for cures people used leave rags, sticks and other votive offerings. This practice has ceased but a regular amount of people still resort to St. Mogue's Well for its curing effect. It is remarkable that no matter how dry a summer is there is always some water in the hollow in this stone.
The blessed well area had deteriorated into a sad state of neglect until in 1975 it was renovated and refurbished and is
now in keeping with its hallowed surroundings.
An annual three day pilgrimage from the Diocese of Ferns was held at this well up until about 1820 on 31st January which leads one to believe that there must be some connection between St. Mogue of Clonmore and St. Mogue, Patron Saint of the diocese of Ferns. They have different feast days - St. Mogue of Clonmore on 11th April and St. Mogue of Ferns on 31st January.
The ancient cemetery is also noted for its old tombstones and slabs. The earliest lettered headstone is dated 1764 and a tombstone in a badly broken condition has a date May 1745 and has a very unusual crest. It lies beside a fallen-in vault of the Byrne family of Sleatty who resided in Ballinakill, Clonmore.