St Asicus

St. Asicus, also called Ascicus and Tassach, is the patron saint of the Diocese of Elphin.  The patron saint of Coppersmiths, St Asicus is buried at the top of a field between Donegal Town and Ballyshannon near Ballintra.  He was a skilled coppersmith and silversmith, and copperwork can be seen on the shamrock-patterned beaten brass altar screen in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Sligo.  He was one of the earliest of St. Patrick’s disciples and after St. Patrick established the Diocese of Elphin in County Roscommon, circa. 450 AD, he appointed Asicus as its first bishop.  He was later Abbot-Bishop of Ireland.

It is said that he was a humble man and often troubled by thoughts that he was not worthy of his high office in the Church. He left Roscommon and travelled to Rathlin O’Birne Island in Donegal Bay where he resigned his office and became a hermit, living for a while at the top of Sliabh Liag (Slieve League) along the area called The Pilgrim’s Way.  

He remained there for seven years until he was found by the monks of Elphin who persuaded him to return to Elphin with them.  However, he was not in good health and died on the journey back to Elphin (circa. 490 AD).  He is buried where he died – near the village of Ballintra between Ballyshannon andDonegal Town in County Donegal.  His feast day is the 27th of April.

You can find his grave along the road from Ballyshannon to Donegal Town, just before the turn off to Rossnowlagh. Turn off the main road to the left and a short distance along the narrow lane you will see the gateposts on your right, as in the picture in the gallery here below.  The grave is just up the hill beyond the gates.