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LABBAMOLAGGA “A Mystical Place”

The existence of Saint Molagga, believed to have been a powerful seventh century holyman, is disputed by some medieval historians who suggest that he was a quasi-mythical figure based on the Pagan god Lug. Nonetheless, stories of Molagga have left us with a rich cultural blend of history, folklore, mythology and archaeology.

Labbamolagga is a beautiful site that illustrates the continuity between the ancient, so called Pagan religions, and their conquest in the early medieval period by Christianity. Here at Labbamolagga, in the field south of the graveyard, are four pillar stones (Four-posters) from a pre-Christian religion. Legend says that the stones were four thieves who fled the church after stealing its valuable possessions. Molagga saw them run away and in a rage of biblical proportions turned them to stone. The smallest of the four stones was said to have been one of the thieves who knelt to pack his loot after some of it fell on the ground.

In the 1930’s, archaeologists excavated two cremated urn burials, at a nearby quarry, which probably dated to the late Bronze Age (about 2,000 to 500 BC). Just outside the graveyard boundary, or enclosure, is a holy well again evidence of a Pagan place of water-worship that was Christianized by the monks who came here to build a monastery.

Colonel Grove-White, who visited Labbamolagga in the early 1900’s, said that the graveyard was overgrown and greatly crowded with graves.

Tradition claims that Molagga was born of poor peasant parents at a place called Liathmuine, near Mitchelstown. His parents were elderly and childless when, one day while they were working in a field, Saint Comdháin Fada passed by. Taking pity on the two frail old folk, he asked them why their children were not doing the work for them. On hearing that God had thought it fit to deprive them of children, Comdháin prophesied that this was not so and that they would soon have a son.

To everyone’s astonishment, seven months later a son was born to them. When taking the child for baptism, they met Comdháin Fada at a river ford. The cleric saw angels hovering over the child and immediately took it upon himself to baptise him. The child was raised at Liathmuine, under the protection and guidance of Cuana Mac Calchine, Prince of the Fir Muighe, whose name was famous throughout Ireland for hospitality and kindness.

Almost from the moment of Molaggas birth, it appears that he was destined to enter the Church. He reputedly founded three churches in the locality – Aghacross Molagga, another at a place called Baunnanooneeny, and here at Labbamolagga. He was also associated with monastic sites in West Cork (Timoleague) and in Dublin.

A cult evolved around Molagga, whose feast day was usually celebrated on Easter Sunday. Until recent times, people still visited his holy well at Aghacross, near Kildorrery, to use its water to cure sore throats, eyes and skin diseases.

Knockadea is a town within Ballylanders who have a dedicated Website, please follow the link for more details: http://www.ballylanders.com/