On a Christmas-eve the barque reached an island, and brought comfort and joy to the heart of its only inhabitant ; for he had seen seven Christmas-days in this solitude without having been present at a mass or heard the human voice. He feasted his guests on roots and dried fish, in a comfortable cavern. The devotions of the festival were duly performed, and the solitary then gave an outline of his history. He had been one of the monks of Inis-na-Gloire, on the coast of Erris, and, like their lost comrade, had been guilty of hidden sins of gluttony and incontinence. Stung at last with remorse, and urged on by despair, he flung himself into the sea; but touched by a feeling of true penitence, he exerted himself, and gained a boat moored near the spot. Fearing to return, he loosed the chain and let himself drift out to sea. The boat was driven west, and for some days he endured hunger and loss of sleep. A violent gale of wind upset the boat at last, and he hoped his last hour had come. He fell into a sweet sleep, and found himself, when he awoke, lying on the strand of an unknown island, being unable to tell whether his lethargy had lasted for hours or days. He returned heartfelt thanks, and then explored his new territory. It appeared to him that death by hunger and cold awaited him ; but while he was humbly resigning himself to God's will, an otter appeared before him with a fish in its mouth, and laid it at his feet. By means of flints and dry leaves, seaweed and sticks, he soon kindled a fire and broiled the fish. So soon as he was enabled by natural means to procure necessaries, he was deserted by his dumb servant.
This penitent was carried away by the monks, and filled a vacancy that had occurred in a terrible fashion.
In Keightley's Fairy Mythology of Scandinavia, saints are frequently assisted by the trolls in the erection of their churches, subject to be dealt with severely by the said trolls, unless they can discover their names before the keystone is inserted. The Patron of Ferns, St. Aidan (or Mogue), knew better than to employ such dangerous assistants. He raised the walls of the cathedral to the wall-plate in one night, without any unholy aid. The peasantry of Wexford delight to boast how a late Protestant Bishop paid a hundred pounds to an Italian sculptor for repairing the nose of his statue.
The dwellers under Mount Leinster, who have had no personal experience of the matter, are, or were some time ago, firmly persuaded that the bells in Ferns Cathedral could not be heard across the neighbouring stream. We ourselves have seen the statue of St. Mogue lying as described, and believe that the care of the Bishop in having it restored has been in the main correctly reported. There is a strong desire through the neighbouring country for interment in the cemetery of Ferns, owing to a supposed promise of the saint, on his deathbed, that he would take five hundred times the full of the churchyard to Paradise along with himself.