Boyne Bandit & Manx Saint

Drogheda connections extend all over the world these days but there is a little-known historical connection much closer to home, between the Boyne and the Isle of Man. In the O.D.S. Journal 2007 Frank Gallagher mentions a famous Manx tale associated with St. Patrick that isn't so well known in Ireland.

"The rugged and stunning scenery around the village of Maughold (pronounced "Mackeld") and Maughold Head on the Isle of Man is much commented on by both island natives and visitors alike. Equally fascinating is the story, now very much part of the island's folklore but little known here, of how the area got its name, and it's connection with the mouth of the Boyne close to Drogheda...

The tale has it that St. Patrick happened on a band of thieves and brigands near "Colpa" on the Boyne. The gang was led by a notorious and bloodthirsty freebooter named McCuill reputed to have been an Irish prince. McCuill decided to ridicule St. Patrick to his bandits by covering one of his henchmen in a shroud and asking Patrick to perform a miracle and bring the "dead" man back to life.
St. Maughold after arriving in the Isle of Man

Furious at McCuill's attempt to make a fool of him, an enraged St. Patrick clasped McCuill in irons, threw the key into the sea and cast the brigand adrift in a Boyne coracle. Exhausted, barely alive and terrified by his ordeal on the open sea, McCuill eventually came ashore on the Isle of Man. The story goes that a Manx fisherman caught a fish in the area soon after the coracle came ashore and inside the fish he found a key that was able to unlock McCuill's chains. Other versions of the yarn have it that a cook in a monastery on the island found the key whilst preparing a fish.

In any event, it is said McCuill was so relieved at his survival and good fortune that he spent many years afterwards doing penance and good works, even preaching St. Patrick's message of Christianity to the Manx people. McCuill eventually became known on the island as "Maughold" and on the death of the then Bishop on the island in the year 498, he was immediately elected as his successor.

McCuill (Maughold) is said to have become so popular and revered that the Manx people named the spot where he drifted ashore in the coracle after him, and that to this day St. Maughold, Sixth Bishop of Man and former Boyneside brigand, is apparently venerated as the Isle of Man's Patron Saint."

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