Mel (d. 487), founder and first bishop of Ardachad (Ardagh, Co. Longford), and saint in the Irish tradition, was seemingly a Briton. The genealogists identify his father as Conis and his mother as Darerca, who is represented as a sister of St Patrick (qv); the genealogists also credit Darerca with being the mother of a number of other early ecclesiastics including Lommán of Trim, Mac-Caille (qv) and Mac-Caírthinn (qv).
Mel is said to have been a disciple of Patrick and, according to the ‘Collectanea’ of Tírechán (qv), was conferred with episcopal orders by him. The later Tripartite Life of Patrick locates Mel's principal foundation at Ardachad in the kingdom of Tethbae (Ardagh, Co. Longford), where he resided with another bishop named Melchú (almost certainly a duplication of Mel). One episode relates how Mel was accused of misconduct with a woman, prompting a visit of inspection by Patrick, but the innocence of the pair was demonstrated when the woman carried hot coals in her chasuble, which miraculously remained unscorched – a common hagiographical motif. Another tradition tells of how Mel helped to save the life of a servant who broke a precious vessel belonging to the king.
Brigidine hagiography claims that Mel spent some time at Cruachán Brí Éile (Croghan Hill, barony of Lower Philipstown, Co. Offaly), where he gave the veil to St Brigit (qv), when she was brought to him by Mac-Caille. His death is placed under the year 487; it was believed to have occurred on 6 February, under which date he is commemorated in the martyrologies.