ST. BRICIN - A SHORT BIOGRAPHY

The history of St. Bricin centres around the ancient university of Tomregan in Breffni which flourished in the seventh century. Tomregan got its name in-pre-Christian times from the burial mound of Dreacon, a pagan chieftain ruling the district around the Woodford river. The ancient Gaelic name was Tuaim Dreacuin from which Tomregan is derived. In Christian times, the site became the centre of the ancient university- among the oldest in Ireland. Investigations by the Breffni Antiquarian and Historical Society have shown that the present townland of Mullynagoleman, about two miles south-east of Ballyconnell town in the neighbourhood of Kildallan, corresponds to the original site place-name which since then has fallen into disuse. All traces of the building have disappeared, as have any remnants of the mound of Dreacon.

In the early years of the seventh century, Bricin was attached to this scholarly establishment, distinguishing himself as a scholar and surgeon. His most distinguished surgical achievement relates to his care of a serious skull wound on an Ulster chieftain of royal blood named Cennfaelad. Following a bloody battle fought near Uloira, Co. Down in 634 AD, the wounded chieftain was rushed to Bricin of Tomregan for treatment. After surgery Cennfaelad remained at the academy for a period of convalescence under Bricin's care. As a result, he developed an almost perfect memory and a keen interest in study at the three colleges of the university-going on to become its most distinguished scholar and poet. The university had three colleges, Brehon Law, History and Poetry, and Classical Learning. Following his studies Cennfaelad produced three famous works, on law, Irish grammar and contemporary history. The history includes references to exploits of the Red Branch Knights and death of Cuchullain, the great Ulster champion.

Regarding St Bricin's later years the great Breffni surgeon would seem to have left Ireland for missionary work abroad according to the writings of Feilire of Aengus. Bricin, like St. Patrick, seems to have become a saint by popular canonisation. Feilire records his feast day on September fifth. Bricin's name survives in local place-names like Slievebriken, a hill west of Mullynagoleman. This indicates that in earlier times, his name and fame was well remembered in the district-truly a distinguished scholar of the academy of Tomregan in Breffni.

NOTE-The ancient Irish historian Eugene O Curry, Professor of History and Archaeology at the University of Ireland (1855-89) pointed out that Bricin is pronounced with a hard C as in the Gaelic (as if Brikin). , .