The Cliffs of Moher
(Co. Clare, West Ireland)
stretch for 8km & rise up to 214 metres
above the Atlantic Ocean.
Today we have the feast of one of those men who was very instrumental in the shaping of our society and who has almost been forgotten.
Malachy was born in Armagh probably in the 1080s and became bishop of Connor before becoming Archbishop of Armagh.
There were a lot of abuses in the Irish church, particularly the keeping of bishoprics in the family, and Rome was trying to bring order and stability to the whole church. Malachy was the man who pushed the reforms through here.
He also brought the Cistercian Order to Ireland and they opened their first house here in 1142 at Mellifont in the Armagh diocese.
The synod of Kells, held in 1152 after the death of Malachy, implemented the desired reforms. One of the lasting effects on our land of this synod is the parish system. Before then there were no parishes and we know how important to Irish social and political the parish system has become.
Malachy died in Clairvaux in the arms of St Bernard and was buried there in the grave that was reserved for Bernard. The great French saint and doctor of the church buried Malachy in his own habit as a mark of respect.
In one of his letters about St Malachy, Bernard makes a beautiful reference to Ireland. People thought the world was flat and that Ireland was the last land before you dropped off the edge. Bernard says of Malachy, "Our friend from the Island at the edge of the world." I love that description of Ireland.