Ireland: Top Saints

Saints A –  E

Saint Abbán was one of the First Christians in Ireland. 

Saint Abel of Rheims, C8th AD bishop of Rheims.

Saint Abran (d. 515 AD) sailed with his siblings to Brittany and lived as a hermit beside the River Marne.

Saint Adalgis, missionary to Arras and Laon, colleague of Saint Fursey.

Saint Adanman, whose mother, Ronait, was appalled by the barbarity she witnessed of one woman with an iron sickle savagely tearing apart another woman in battle, was responsible for the Cain Adanman (697 AD), a Brehon Law exempting women from participating in warfare.

Saint Adomnán (d. 704 AD), 9th Abbot of Iona, wrote the Vita Colum Cille.

Saint Adomnán of Coldingham (d. 680 AD), prophet

Saint Aed Mac Bric, C6th AD

Saint Aed of Clonmore (d. 659 AD)

Saint Aedan / Aidan of Ferns, aka Saint Máedóc (d. 625 AD), studied with Saint David in Wales; on his return to Ireland he became the founder and first bishop of Ferns in County Wexford.

Saint Aengus the Culdee

Saint Aengus / Oengus the Culdee (Ceile Dé, or “Servant of God”) flourished in the late C8th AD. As a hermit, he erected a little oratory in the Dysert Hills, now the site of a ruined church. Though he sought to be far from men, and especially women, but his fame attracted a stream of visitors, so he left.

After some wanderings he entered the monastery of Tallaght, near Dublin, then governed by Saint Maelruain, who collaborated with him on the Martyrology of Tallaght, a prose catalogue of Irish saints completed c.790 AD, the oldest of the Irish martyrologies. Saint Aengus finished his famous Feliré, a poetical Festology of Irish Saints, c.805 AD.

He died at his oratory in 824 AD, and was buried near his birthplace in Clonenagh. His Feast Day is 11th March.

(When the Irish Church was re-organised after the Synods of the C12th, the old religious communities of monks called culdees (ceili-De) died out or were taken over by Canons Regular of St Augustine).

Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne (d.651 AD) was one of the Early Irish Missionaries.

Saint Ailbe / Elvis (d. 534 AD) was one of the First Christians in Ireland.

Saint Ailéran (d. 665 AD) was a scholar at Clonard.

Saint Aodhán – see Saint Aidan

Saint Alto of Altomünster was a C8th AD missionary and founder of Benedictine monastery in Bavaria.

Saint Andrew the Scot was a C9th AD bishop of Fiesole, Tuscany.

Saint Assicus was a C5th AD convert (by Saint Patrick) and first bishop of Elphin.

Saint Athracht / Attracta was a C5th AD nun; legend states that she fled from home and took her vows under Saint Patrick at Coolavin. She then moved to Lough Gara, where she founded a hostel for travellers at a place now called Killaraght in her honour. The hostel survived until 1539. Local tradition remembers her great healing powers. Her convents were famous for hospitality and charity to the poor. She was a sister of Saint Connell.

Saint Autbod was a C7th AD missionary to Valcourt

Saint Auxilius was one of the Pre-Patrician Missionaries

Saint Balthere (d. 756 AD), a hermit, moved to Lindisfarne, and became known as the Apostle of the Lothians.

Saint Banban the Wise was a C5th AD cousin of Saint Patrick

Saint Barrid is recorded as telling Saint Brendan the Navigator of his visit to the Island of Paradise, which prompted the latter to go in search of the isle.

Saint Beaglaoch was a contemporary of Saint Colmcille / Columba.

Saint Bécán was the C6th AD founder of Kilbeggan

Saint Bega, a C9th AD princess who valued virginity, moved to St Bee’s in Cumbria, then to Northumbria

Saint Benan / Benignus of Kilbannon / Kilbennan, another disciple of Saint Patrick, was born in Tír Ailill, County Sligo, though his mother was from Kilbennan. Benen’s grandfather, Lughaidh mac Netach, gave his fort at Kilbennan to Saint Patrick to establish a fort over which he placed Benen, who set it up as a training school for evangelists. He educated the young Saint Jarlath. He became the Patron Saint of Connacht. His Feast Day was 9th November.

Saint Benignus of Armagh (d.467 AD) was Saint Patrick‘s favourite psalm singer. In Easter 433 AD, Patrick clashed with king Laoghaire at Tara over religion, and legend has it that, a trial by fire was proposed. A pagan druid and Benignus were tied inside a burning timber building, the former was reduced to ash while Benignus was untouched, at this turning point Christian teaching was established.  Saint Benignus was responsible for several important legal texts. His Feast Day was 9th November.

Saint Beoc was the  C5th AD founder of St Patrick’s Purgatory on Lough Derg in modern County Donegal.

Saint Berach was the C6th AD founder of Termonbarry

Saint Berihert was a “sister” of Saint John of Mushera

Saint Blathmet was very learned in Sacred Scripture. He was renowned as a great teacher and children of the nobility were sent from miles around to study with him.

Saint Boethian of Pierepoint, a C7th AD disciple of Saint Fursey / Fursa, founded Pierrepoint, but was murdered by rebellious monks.

Saint Braccan / Breacáin was the founder and first abbot of Ardbraccan in Meath.

Saint Brandan (C5th AD), an opponent of Pelagianism in Britain, fled to Gaul and became an Abbot

Saint Breage, a C5th AD nun follower of Saint Brigid, settled by River Hayle in Dumnonia (Cornwall)

Saint Brendan of Clonfert / Brendan the Navigator was one of the 12 Apostles of Erin.    

Saint Brendan of Birr  / Saint Brendan Mac Nemainn (C6th AD) was one of the 12 Apostles of Erin.

Saint Briga, sister of  Saint Brendan the Navigator, was abbess of at least two convents.

Saint Brigid / Brigit of Kildare is one of the Three Patron Saints of Ireland

Saint Broccaid of Imliuch Ech was a brother of Saint Lómman of Trim and a Relative of Saint Patrick.

Saint Broccán was a brother of Saint Lómman of Trim and a Relative of Saint Patrick.

Saint Brogan Cloen, of Rostuirc, Ossory, was a pupil of Saint Ultan of Ardbraccan.

Saint Caillin was one of the Children of Dediva

Saint Cainneach

Saint Canice of Aghaboe was one of the 12 Apostles of Erin.

Saint Canice, patron of Kilkenny, was probably the same person.

Saint Cairreal – see Saint Kerrill

Saint Canoc was the Welsh-born founder of an early Christian monastic community at Galen, near Ferbane (Co. Offaly)

Saint Carthage / Carthach the Elder was a C6th bishop and abbot, mainly known as the tutor and fosterer of his greater namesake, Saint Carthage of Lismore, aka Saint Mochuda. Carthage himself a disciple of Saint Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, who had condemned him to a condign penance for a sin of the flesh committed in his younger days. On completion of his canonical penance Carthage was reinstated as a member of the religious brotherhood. Afterwards he founded the monastery of Druim Fertain and another monastery on the upper island of Lough Sheelin. In the barony of Clanmaurice is a townland called Monument where there are some scant remains of an ancient church called Cill Cartaig. His Feast Day is 5th March.

Saint Carthage / Carthach the Younger

 

Saint Carthage / Carthach the Younger (c.555- 657 AD), aka Saint Mochuda, spent his youth as a swineherd near Castlemaine, and became a monk in a neighbouring monastery under the guidance of Saint Carthage the Elder, subsequently being ordained a priest. In 580 AD he determined to lead a hermit’s life, and he built a cell at Kiltallagh, where his fame soon attracted pilgrims.

 

After a few years, the jealousy of two neighbouring abbots forced him to leave his hermitage. He then proceeded on a visit to Bangor, where he spent a year. On the advice of Saint Comgall he returned to Kerry and founded several churches.

 

On the recommendation of Saint Colman Elo, he settled at Rahan (County Offaly), where he founded a monastery c. 590 AD, and soon had c. 100 disciples. He was consecrated Abbot-Bishop of the Fercal district, and composed a rule for his monks, an Irish metrical poem of 580 lines, divided into nine separate sections — one of the most interesting literary relics of the early Irish Church.

 

Blathmaic, a Meathian prince, instigated by the neighbouring monks, ordered Saint Carthage to leave Rahan. This expulsion of the saint and 800 of his community took place at Eastertide of the year 635 AD.

 

Journeying by Saigher, Roscrea, Cashel and Ardfinnan, Saint Carthage at length came to the banks of the River Blackwater, where he was given a foundation by the Prince of the Decies, and thus sprang up the episcopal city of Lismore. Although Rahan had become quite famous, it was eclipsed by the fame of the new monastery at Lismore.

 

Carthage was known for his transcendent virtue, and to guard it he practised the severest penances. On this account Saint Cuimin of Connor thus writes of him in an Irish quatrain: The beloved Mochuda of mortification / Admirable every page of his history / Before his time there was no one who shed / Half so many tears as he shed. Numerous miracles were also attributed to him.

 

Saint Carthage lived less than two years at his new foundation in Lismore. He spent the last eighteen months of his life in contemplation and prayer, in a cave near the present St. Carthage’s Well. His Feast Day is 14th May.

Saint Cathal / Cathaldus / Cataldo was a monk in Lismore who in 685 AD set off to Jerusalem. On his return trip his ship was wrecked off the Italian coast, near the city of Taranto. The people here appear to have encouraged him to stay, and he rose to become their archbishop. Some of the miracles claimed in Cataldo’s name include protecting the city against the plague and floods that, apparently, had occurred in neighbouring areas. The city’s Cathedral is named in his honour, as are several towns and villages. When his coffin was reopened three centuries after his death it allegedly contained a golden Celtic cross and a stick carved from Irish oak featuring the Celtic design that was to become Cataldo’s emblem. His feast day is 10th May.

Saint Cauragh (C6th AD), expelled by Saint Columcille from the Kells monastery for breach of discipline, and having wandered throughout the land in search of a secluded place to pray and fast, became seriously ill; on the slope of Knockeyon beside Lough Derravaragh in modern County Westmeath he prayed for a drop of water to quench his thirst, and was rewarded by the sound of liquid trickling out of the rock above his head. He put out his hand and drank freely of this miraculous water, as a result of which he was cured, and built the chapel in gratitude, apparently dedicating it to Saint Eoghain.

Saint Cellach / Celsus (d. 1129) was an Archbishop of Armagh, the first non-layman for over a century. Following the 1111 Synod of Ráith Bressail, in which a diocesan structure for Ireland was established, he became the first metropolitan primate of all Ireland. He ordained Saint Malachy in 1119. He was buried at Lismore.

Saint Cere / Cera / Cyra (C6th AD) was the daughter of Dubh, who was of the race of Cornarius and monarch of Ireland, while her mother was from Scotland. She is said to have founded a nunnery in the parish of St Owen’s, now called Ovens, Co. Cork. According to C18th historian Smith “‘Her festivals were celebrated on the 16th October and 5th January, the days of her birth and death respectively.”

Saint Cianán Mac Sétnai is the patron saint of Duleek

Saint Ciarán / Kieran of Clonmacnoise / Ciarán Mac an Tsair is one of the 12 Apostles of Erin.

Saint Ciarán / Kieran of Saigír / Saighir / Seir-Kieran, aka  one of the First Christians in Ireland.

Saint Ciarán / Kieran was also the name of several other holy men, including a monk from Kells (Co. Meath) who founded a hermitage nearby.

Saint Coemgen – see Saint Kevin of Glendalough

Saint Colman was one of the 12 Apostles of Erin.

Saint Colman Elo / Colmanellus (555 – 611 AD), aka  Saint Colmán Macusailni, studied under his maternal uncle, Saint Colmcille / Columba, who procured for him the site of a monastery now known as Lynally (Lann Elo). He subsequently founded the Abbey of Muckamore, and was appointed Bishop of Connor. He was the author of Airgitir Crábaid, the earliest surviving example of Old Irish prose, and is believed to be the real author of a work known as the Hymn of Saint Secundinus in praise of Saint Patrick. His Feast Day is 26th September.

Saint Colman of Cloyne studied in the late C5th AD at Cloonflush under Saint Jarlath and became a C6th AD bishop of Cloyne

Saint Colman of Dromore was a 6th AD bishop of Dromore

Saint Colman of Kilmacduagh was a C7th AD bishop of Kilmacduagh

Saint Colman of Kilroot was a contemporary of Saint Ailbe

Saint Colman of Lann, aka Saint Colmán mac Luacháinm, was supposedly the C7th founder, first abbot and patron saint of Lann (now Lynn, Co. Westmeath). Although there seems to be considerable doubt about the sources providing information about his life, his Feast Day is normally given as 17th May.

Saint Colman of Lindisfarne (d. 676 AD) was born in Connacht. An admirer of Saint Colmcille, he spent many years in Iona before travelling to Northumbria to co-found the famous monastery of Lindisfarne. Having lost the Paschal Controversy over the Celtic dating of Easter at the Synod of Whitby, he abandoned Lindisfarne with all the Irish and 30 English monks. They travelled via Iona to the remote island of Inishbofin off Connemara to found a monastery c.665 AD. Tensions between Irish and English led the Saint to remove the latter to another new monastery, Mayo Abbey, where he died and is buried.

Saint Colmán Mac ua Laoise, one of the three patron saints of County Laois, was a descendant of Lughaid Laoiseach, who founded the kfffffffingdom of Laoghais. He is called Mac ua Laoise to distinguish him from the many other Colmans to be found in the Irish Martyrologies. The year of Saint Colman’s death is not known, but it may be taken for granted that he predeceased Saint Colmcille / Columba, who died in the year 597 AD.

Saint Colman (martyr) was a C7th AD companion of Saint Kilian of Würzburg

Saint Colman / Coloman of Stockerau (d. 1012) was Irish pilgrim martyred in Austria

Saint Colmcille /  Colum Chille / Columba is one of the Three Patron Saints of Ireland.

Saint Columba of Terryglass was one of the 12 Apostles of Erin.

Saint Columbanus / Columbán was the foremost of the Early Irish Missionaries.

Saint Comgall (c.525 – c.600 AD)  seems to have served first as a soldier, and then  studied at Clonard with Saint Finnian, and at Clonmacnoise with Saint Ciarán. He then went to an island on Lough Erne with some friends to follow such a severe form of monastic life that seven companions died of cold and hunger. He founded the great monastery in Bangor c.555 AD, and was still abbot when the young Saint Columbanus studied there. He is said to have been the friend of Saint Brendan the Navigator, Saint Cormac, Saint Cainnech and Saint Finnian of Moville. After intense suffering he received the Eucharist from Saint Fiacre, and expired in the monastery at Bangor. His relics, long kept at Bangor, were scattered during Viking raids in 822 AD.

Saint Conainne / Dachona was an early C5th female missionary and founder of Kilconnell.

Saint Connell was a late C5th evangelist in the East Galway area, and the brother of Saint Athract / Attracta. Since the C16th he has mistakenly been credited with the foundation of Kilconnell, which was in fact founded by Saint Conainne.

Saint Conleth / Conlaeth / Conlath / Conlaith / Conlian / Conlaid /  Conláed / Connlaodh (d. 519 AD),  believed to have come from the Wicklow area, was a hermit and metalworker, also said to have been a copyist and skilled illuminator of manuscripts. While living in seclusion at Old Connell on the River Liffey in what is now Newbridge he was persuaded by Saint Brigid to act as priest for her monastic community in Kildare and he became the first Bishop of Kildare c.490 AD.  He was killed by wolves in the forests of Leinster as he set out on pilgrimage to Rome and was buried nearby. In 799 AD his relics were transported and laid beside Brigid’s in the great cathedral in Kildare. A notable product of Saint Conleth’s metalwork for which he is noted is the crozier that he fashioned for Saint Finbarr of Termonbarry. Saint Conleth’s Feast Day is 4th May.

Saint Cormac was a C6th AD abbot and a friend of Saint Colmcille / Columba. His Feast Day was 14th September.

Saint Cormac mac Cuilennáin (d. 908 AD) was a bishop and king of Munster from 902 AD until he was killed fighting in Leinster. He was reputed to be a great scholar, being credited with the authorship of the Sanas Cormaic (Cormac’s Glossary), and the now-lost Psalter of Cashel, among other works. After his death, his shrine at Castledermot, County Kildare, was said to be the site of miracles.

Saint Credaun was baptised by Saint Senen of Scattery Island in the River Shannon estuary. He is reputedly buried in the ruins of his church in the townland of Kilcredaun near Carrigaholt on the Loop Head Peninsula in County Clare. There is also a Holy Well dedicated to him nearby.

Saint Cuanchear studied under Saint Mochaomhog.

Saint Cuimin of Connor

Saint Dachona – see Saint Conainne

Saint Daga

Saint Dagan studied under Saint Mochaomhog

Saint Daigh – one of the Children of Dediva

Saint Dallán Forgaill (c. 530–598 AD), aka Dallán Forchella / Dallán of Cluain Dalláin, was born Eochaid Forchella and nicknamed Dallán (“little blind one”) after he lost his sight, reputedly as a result of studying intensively.He was a cousin of Saint Mogue and Saint Tigernach of Clones. He was famed as a poet, as well as a scholar of Latin scriptural learning, and became Chief Ollam of Ireland. He reputedly wrote Amra Choluim Chille (Eulogy of Saint Colmcille / Columba), because the latter had successfully saved poets from expulsion from Ireland at the assembly of Druim Cett in 575 AD. He was beheaded by pirates breaking into the island monastery of Inniskeel, County Donegal, where he is buried; it is said that God reattached his head to his body after he was martyred. He was acclaimed a saint in the early C11th. A medieval poem entitled “On the breaking up of a School” composed c1400 by Tadhg Og O Huiginn, refers to the death of Dallán which caused his school to break up and the students to disperse as they would accept no other master.

Saint Declan was one of the Pre-Patrician Missionaries

 Saint Deicolus is called an older brother of Saint Gall.

Saint Diarmaid the Just was one of the Children of Dediva

Saint Donnan, an early Irish missionary to Scotland, was martyred on the Isle of Eigg.

Saint Dympna was a child of a pagan king of Oriel who, after the death of his wife, reckoned his daughter would suit his bed just as well. The mad old king duly chased the terrified Dympna all the way to Achill where the sprightly virgin managed to catch a boat to Geel in Belgium. Here she set about devoting her life to the Christian God, only to find her life considerably shortened when her father caught up with her unawares and lopped her head clean off with his sword, at which point he was cured of his insanity. Dympna duly became the Saint of Sanity and hence the number of mental health institutions around the globe called Saint Dympna’s.

Saint Efemia – see Saint Femia

Saint Egbert of Iona  (639-729 AD) was a Northumbrian monk who spent many years in the Abbey of Rathmelsigi, identified by the Venerable Bede as a monastery in Connacht, by others as Melifont Abbey in modern County Louth and by inhabitants of modern County Carlow as Clonmelsh Abbey, thought to have been located on the present site of Killogan graveyard near Carlow Town. He trained Saint Wilibrord and Saint Swithbert for their Mission to the Fresians. He spent the last 16 years of his life on Iona, where he persuaded the monks to adopt the Western computation for Easter. His Feast Day is 24th April.

Saint Elo – see Saint Colman Elo

Saint Elvis – see Saint Ailbe

Saint Enda of Aran

Saint Enda / Éanna / Éinne / Ënna / Endeus (d.c. 530 AD) was a warrior prince, son of king Conall Derg of Oriel (Ergall) in Ulster. Legend has it that  Enda was converted by his sister, Saint Fanchea, and after a significant vision went to Rome to be ordained. It is said that Enda learned the principles of monastic life at Rosnat in Britain, which was probably Saint David’s foundation in Pembrokeshire or Saint Ninian’s in Galloway. Returning to Ireland, Enda built churches at Drogheda, and a monastery in the River Boyne valley.

 

Around 484 AD he begged his brother-in-law, king Oengus of Munster, to let him settle on the wild and barren isle of Inishmore in Galway Bay, where he  established what is regarded as the first Irish monastery in the strict sense. There he and his followers lived a hard life of manual labor, prayer, fasting, and study of the Scriptures.

 

These “men of the Cross” included Saint Ciarán of Clonmacnoise, who came there first as a youth and would have remained for life but for Enda’s insistence that his true work lay elsewhere. Others included Saint Finnian of Moville,  Saint Brendan the Voyager, Saint Colmcille / Columba of Iona, Saint Jarlath of Tuam, and Saint Carthach the Elder. Saint Enda taught them to love the hard rock, the dripping cave, and the barren earth swept by the western gales. His Feast Day is 21st March.

Saint Eoghain / Eyon / Keyon / Ion, an early Christian holy man of whom little  seems to be known, has a chapel dedicated in his honour on Knockeyon, one of the highest summits in County Westmeath, on the southeastern shore of Lough Derravaragh.

Saint Erc of Slane was one of the First Christians in Ireland.