Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/O'Carroll, Maolsuthain

Máel Suthain Ua Cerbail in the ODNB.

O'CARROLL, MAOLSUTHAIN (d. 1031), confessor of Brian (926–1014) [q. v.], king of Ireland, was probably son of Maolsuthain Ua Cearbhaill, or O'Carroll, who died at Inisfallen, in the lower Lake of Killarney, in 1009, chief of Eoghanacht Locha Lein, and famous for learning. Brian's brother Marcan was the chief ecclesiastic of Munster (Annala Rioghachta Eireann, 1009) in the time of the elder Maolsuthain, and it was perhaps through Marcan that the younger became attached to Brian. O'Carroll accompanied Brian in his journey round Ireland in 1004, and at Armagh wrote in the ‘Book of Armagh,’ on f. 16b, the short charter in Latin, which is still legible, and ends with the words ‘ego scripsi id est calvus perennis in conspectu briain imperatoris scotorum et quod scripsi finituit pro omnibus regibus maceriæ.’ ‘Calvus perennis’ is a version of Maolsuthain (maol = bald, and suthain = everlasting), while Maceria is a translation of the Irish word Caisil or Cashel, the chief city of Munster. There is no satisfactory evidence that O'Carroll wrote any part of the ‘Annals of Inisfallen,’ as is suggested by E. O'Curry (Lectures, p. 79) and E. O'Reilly (Irish Writers, p. 70). In a manuscript of 1434 there is a curious tale of O'Carroll, which has been printed by O'Curry (Lectures, p. 77, and App. p. xli). Three of Maolsuthain's pupils wished to visit Judæa. He told them they would die there, but gave them leave to go on condition that they should visit him after their deaths and tell him how long he should live, and what should be his doom after death. They died, asked the archangel Michael for the information, and thus learned that their tutor had three years and a half to live, and that at the day of judgment he would be sent to hell, for three reasons: The way he interpolated the canon, his profligate conduct, and his omission to recite the hymn of St. Columba known as ‘Altus prosator.’ His pupils returned as white doves, and communicated the gloomy intelligence. He announced his intention of abandoning vice and ceasing to interpolate the holy scriptures, of fasting three days a week, of performing one hundred genuflexions a day, and repeating the Altus seven times every night, and asked the doves to return on the day of his death. They came, informed him that heaven was now open to him, and flew off with his soul. His manuscripts, the tale adds, are still in the church of Inisfallen. He died in 1031.

[Annala Rioghachta Eireann, ed. O'Donovan, vol. ii.; Fascimiles of Historical Manuscripts of Ireland, ed. Gilbert, vol. i. Dublin, 1874; Reeves's Memoir of the Book of Armagh, Lusk, 1861; O'Curry's Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History, Dublin, 1873.]

N. M.