5th April - Saint Becan of Emlagh and bog butter

Written by Anne N 2019 with additions 2023.

A Meath saint and said by some to be one of the 12 Irish Apostles. (see Butler's The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, the result of thirty years' study, was first published in four volumes in London, 1756–1759.)

St Becan was a son of Murchade and Cula, of the regal family of Munster, he was a blood relative of Saint Columcille and a contemporary with King Dermot.

He founded a monastery on the River Brosna at Kilbeggan around the beginning of the 7th century.

An old church giving name to the parish Imleach Emlagh is situated about four miles to the north-east of Kells. The parish, Imleach-Becain in Meath was re named after St Becan mac Cula from its original name Imleach Fia.

The parish church of Emlagh is situated on the south side of what was once an island in Emlagh bog. Meath Heritage provides more information

The word Imleach denotes land bordering on a lake, Becan means small in Irish.

I wonder does it have it's root in Beach -the Irish for Bee.

Bog Butter from Emlagh

Butter more than 2,000 years old.

In medieval Ireland they did a lot of burying in bogs as they have excellent preservation properties because of their low temperatures, low oxygen and highly acidic habitat.
They called it a "Gift to the Gods". (10 Kilos of Bog Butter). That butter would normally be found in a wooden box but this butter was found on its own.
The museum believes that this particular butter was therefore buried as a ritual or an offering because whoever buried it thought it would never be found again.
Butter, or anything associated with a cow, was seen as a sign of wealth, importance and was valuable.
"Butter was seen as a luxury item back then. People made it with the intention of eating it, or selling it to pay their taxes and rent,"


Anne is sharing a series of events throughout the year - you can find them listed by clicking to the link Other Notable Dates and Festivals.