Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Cockerel, Mouse and Fly.

On Mother's Day we took ourselves off on an adventure to southern Laoise [pronounced as Leesh] and in particular to the picturesque village of Timahoe.

Timahoe, derives its’ name from Saint Tigh Mochua, 
there the houses are built around a large, central piece of common land known as the Goosegreen.  
St. Mochua established a monastery at Timahoe in the seventh century which burnt down in 1142, later it was re-established by the O’Moores.  
A 12th century round tower standing 96ft high is located close by Mochua’s Abbey and there was a monastic community here as late as 1650. It was then that the Franciscan friars were murdered at a spot known locally as "Boher a wurther" or the murdering road, by Colonel Hewson and Cromwell’s army. 

Along the road to Timahoe.

The locals call it 'Goosegreen'

Looking East the River Bauteogue

Looking West along the River Bauteogue

The round tower stands in a lovely setting accessed by a footbridge that crosses the River Bauteogue, Báiteóg, meaning ‘a swamp’. Originally access to the tower and Abbey was via a ford.

Drawing from Laois County Council archive
Detail of the towers entrance.

The Round Tower 
St Mochua had a reputation as a healer, and is said to have cured two other abbots – St Colman Elo of a sudden loss of memory and St Fintan Munnu of ‘leprosy’.
Mochua died in the year 657.

St. Mochua's companions

St. Mochua lived as a hermit without worldly goods except for three pets – a rooster, a mouse and a fly. The rooster wakened him for the hours of Matins; if he didn’t wake up or dozed off during the day weak from his vigils and prayers, the mouse would nibble at his ear not letting him sleep more than three hours a day or night. The fly would walk along each line of his Psalter as he read and when he became tired, the fly would stop at the point where the saint had broken off until he could return again to resume reading the Psalms.

The Little Pets of St. Mochua

When St. Mochua knelt to pray
Each morning at the break of day
There always was about the house
A rooster, fly and little mouse

Three willing slaves to serve him well
And share his solitary cell
The rooster every morn would crow
And waken him for matins, though
When he slept too sound to hear
The mouse came forth and nipped his ear

And though he never had a clock
The mouse would call him or the cock
And if he had to leave a book
From out some dusty hidden nook
A fly, with patience and with grace
Would sit for hours and mark the place.

 © John Irvine

I very much hope that your appetites have been whetted sufficiently enough to make a visit to this breath taking place. Where a on a sunny warm day you can lose yourself in peaceful surroundings and enjoy some wonder filled dreams.


  1. I could do without the cock and the mouse, but the fly sounds handy as I often forget where I left off.

  2. Lovely story & photos. Tks for that.

    1. Very glad that you enjoyed the blog and thank you for commenting Ita xx

  3. Hi Mel - lovely looking place and definitely a place to visit if I'm ever near by ... but love the poem and the history ... fascinating ... cheers Hilary

    1. Thank you for the comment Hilary, the word 'tranquil' comes to mind when thinking of Timahoe.

  4. Jack L. said: Hi Mel,
    Many thanks, for posting up this really nice written piece, and the pictures were great too!! To be honest when I was looking at them, I could nearly smell grass...must be the day 'for it' today !

    1. Glad you enjoyed the tour Jack and oh by the way hope it is the grass that is walked on to which you are referring :-) :-) !

  5. Interesting tower and a tour through your words. (Do you keep taking yourself off my blog or is it Blogger Google+ that keeps making you disappear and then reappear or do I plain and simply upset you sometimes?)

    1. Thank you for your comments and don't you think that Cromwell was a bad lot altogether.
      Comings and goings - ah' the fickle nature is oft disturbed ;-)

  6. Lovely views, lovely scenery ... me still stuck in da snow at this time, friend Heron ... smiles ... ... Love, cat,

    1. Glad that you enjoyed the scenery dear Cat. As for snow we saw a pockets of quite deep stuff on the local mountains last weekend, none though down on the lowlands fortunately.

  7. Replies
    1. Do you indeed Gwen, well good luck in capturing and training it however, perhaps it only something which saintly hermits can do :-) ?

  8. Well, you seem to have done great efforts to present us with heartwarming scenery and a sweet story. Mothers Day is celebrated in may here. I wonder what function that tower had, I have seen more like that on your rounds. Very beautiful pictures Melwyn, and tempting to follow those roads.

    1. Thanks for your comment and question Solveig.
      A variety of propositions have been put forward regarding the round towers and so not in any particular order
      I will list them: Places in which to chant in, a place of safety during viking raids because the entrance door is generally quite high up, storage place for valuables, a vantage point, an especially designed building that enhanced toning and toning is very different to chanting because it does not involve words.

    2. Very interesting options all of them actually. I was in a round tower in Sparta, every word and sigh could be heard in there. We will have to let it be a mystery, but the door, hm, yes, vikings, oh, there is much to be considered. Keep posting these magic outings!!!

  9. It certainly is beautiful, thank you for the tour. Do you have a problem with local councils selling off common ground like they keep doing here? X

    1. Thank you for your appreciation Fran.
      In regards to your question: No ! For we are far more civilised over here ;-) ;-)

  10. You learn me so much, Mel! It looks a beautiful place, and I so enjoyed the story and the's so nice to see a fly receiving some honour. I'm not always nice to flies, so after this I shall treat them with more respect :)

    1. Thanks for the comment Val and oh I very much dislike flies too :-)