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Bachuil Country House - Isle of Lismore

Bachuil Country House, Isle of Lismore, Oban, Argyll & Bute, PA34 5UL, United Kingdom

History of Bachuil

St Moluag

St Moluag

St Moluag was one of the most outstanding missionaries to come out of Ireland in the sixth century.  He was a bishop of the First Order of Celtic Saints who were “Most Holy, Shining like the Sun”.  St. Moluag was known as ‘The Clear and Brilliant, The Sun of Lismore in Alba’ and was one of the six Irish priests whom St. Patrick prophesied would become bishops.

He ordained St Comgall and established him as Abbot of Bangor (co. Down), before being ordained a bishop and leaving with twelve followers to found his first great community on the Isle of Lismore in 562.  According to St Bernard, by the time of his death in 592, St Moluag had founded over 120 monasteries and converted the Picts of Alba.  He is the Apostle of the Picts, Patron Saint of both Dalriada and the Royal House of Lorn, and also of Rushen, in the Isle of Man.  According to Lismore tradition, he was Patron Saint of the whole of the Isle of Man. 

It was the practice of the Irish missionaries of the time to surround their wattle and daub buildings with a vallum (ditch) and thorns. There are many references to these, more especially in Ireland. It is from this vallum that the island has its name:Lios mor, the great enclosure. In ancient Gaelic lios was used to describe a fortified place or monastery and mor is Gaelic for great. This is the real meaning of Lismore and not the ‘‘great garden” as is so often given.  Early Irish Monasteries were built largely of wattle and daub and it is believed that Moluag’sLios was no different. The monks lived in beehive cells, worshipped together in a round oratory and ate in a communal refectory.

The Cathedral Church of St Moluag probably occupies the site of St Moluag’sLios The field boundaries to the north, east and south from a rough circle, of about 240 metres in diameter which may indicate the original line of the vallum that enclosed the early monastic site.

Coarbs of St Moluag, Abbots of Lismore

Coarbs of St Moluag, Abbots of Lismore

The Coarb of a Celtic abbot was heir of the abbot in his ecclesiastical functions and abbatial mensal territory.  The Lord Lyon King of Arms stated in 1951 The Coarbs of St Moluag have come down through the centuries ‘acknowledging no earthly authority or hierarchy’. .. the Baron of the Bachuil .was in the nature of a ‘baron par la Grâce de Dieu’.” 

These are the oldest titles in the Britain, dating from 562.  It is the only one, outside the crown, that is ‘par la Grâce de Dieu’. 

The Coarbs of St Moluag, Abbots of Lismore provided the authority of the church to support the Kings of Dalriada and the Lords of Lorn, allegedly carrying the Bachuil Mor of St Moluag as a totem before their hosts.

Donnchadh O’Corrain writes in Ireland Before the Norman's “According to the classical law tracts, there were three distinct grades of king: ri or ri túathe, the king of the local túath or petty tribal kingdom; ruiri or great king who, in addition to being king of his own túath, was the personal overlord of a number of other tribal kings; and lastly, ri ruirech or 'king of overkings', who is identified with the king of a province. No higher grade of king, 'high king' or king of Ireland is known to the classical law tracts.”

Kathleen Hughes, a leading historian of early Irish Christianity, has written, 'The bishop stood in a similar relationship to his diocese as did the petty king to his túath; but the head of a great monastic paruchia was like a king over kings'

Clan MacLea (Livingstone)

Clan MacLea (Livingstone)

The Livingstones of Bachuil are recognised as the Chiefs of MacLea.

The name Maclea evolved from Maconlea who is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic spelling Mac Dhunnshleibhe.

The Ulaid were once the most powerful tribal group in the north of Ireland and it is from them the province of Ulster derives its name.  From 1137 the Ulaid rigdamnai (persons eligible to be king) alone used the name Mac Duinnshleibhe. 

The family of Mac Duinnshleibhe remained 'kings of the Irish of Ulidia' until the 13th century when defeat by the Normans drove them to the Isle of Lismore where they reunited with their kinsmen the Coarbs of St Moluag.  From that time the Coarbs of St Moluag used the name Mac Duinnsleibhe. 

After the massacre of Dunaverty in 1647 our family adopted the name Livingstone from the reference in First Epistle of St Peter in Chapter 2.

Livingstones/MacLeas are the oldest clan in Argyll, the birthplace of Scotland as we now know it. A writer in 1743 remarked that : “As to the antiquity of the name of McLea, it is generally thought that they are amongst the eldest of the Macks … and they are at this time so old that they are almost worn out.”

The main strength of Clan MacLea centred on the old abbey lands of Lismore and Appin. There was a large grouping around Loch Etive: MacLea of Achnacree, MacLea of Lochnell and MacLea of Achnacloich.

There is no real distinction between Highland and Lowland Livingstones. In 1645 Alexander Livingston, second Earl of Linlithgow, believed that his family were descended of the McLea's in the Highlands.

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