Tuam Septr. 20th 1838.

Dear Sir,

As the name Books of Galway are not prepared would it not be better for us to go into the Queen's County, and not be losing time?


[In left-hand margin: Captn. Stotherd] These three parishes verging on Lough Corrib were (if we believe oral tradition) erected by three brothers named Fursa, Eidhne and Cuana, who flourished in the early ages of Christianity in Ireland, and who built their churches in the same form style and extent, that is 60 feet in length and 18 in breadth. A person skilled in the styles of old churches, will, however, at once come to the conclusion that the present walls of Kill-Fursa, Kill-Einy and Klll-Cuana, are all modern with the


exception of a small part of the western gable of Kill-Fursa, which contains a doorway which is, at least 1200 years old, and of this form.

West doorway in Kill-Fursa old church
West doorway in Kill-Fursa old church

This doorway is 5ft. 4inch. in height, 2ft. 0inch. in breadth at the top and, 2ft. 5in. at the bottom. The greater part of the stones extend the whole thickness of the wall which is 2ft. 6inch. The lintel is 3ft. 8in. in length and impressed with all the marks of age. It is a time-worn stone.

Every other feature in this church is in the Gothic style. It is 60 feet long and 18 broad; there is a small window in the west gable, a Gothic door on the south side wall and two small windows. The East gable contains a beautiful Gothic window of considerable size, now covered with ivy. The north side wall is windowless.


Tradition says that this church was built by the celebrated traveller St. Fursa the son of Fintan, who was King of Connaught, but this tradition is partly right and partly wrong, for Fintan, the father of the great Saint Fursa was not King of Connaught, but of Munster, even though present oral tradition points out a stone fort or Caher in the townland of Ard-Fintan where it is confidently asserted (King) Fintan, the father of St. Fursa lived.

The life of St. Fursaeus as published by Colgan, on the 16th of January, places the church of St. Fursaeus in an island near the lake Erbsen, but I must here observe that insula must be a mistake for locus or some other word. The name of Kill-Fhursa, the door-(way) above referred to and the vivid tradition in the Country about Fursa mac Fintan, prove that this church


is the original establishment of St. Fursa near the spacious Loch Erbsen. There is no island in Loch Oirbsen belonging to this parish, which contains any old church dedicated to this Saint. Colgan came to this conclusion though he did not know whether the parish church of Kill fursa was on an island, and (or) whether it presented any feature characteristic of the age in which Saint Fursa flourished.

Ad aliam insulam (locum?) Rathmhath nuncupatam (nuncupatum) transiit, C 11. The monastery, which is here said to have been built in this island by St. Fursaeus unless I am deceived (mistaken?), is the parish church of the Diocese of Tuam in the deanery of Enach-duin near lake Erbsen, which at present from the name of the founder is called Kill-fursa.

Colgan edited this life of St. Fursa from a very rude Continental MS. which gives the names of places in Ireland in very uncouth orthography.

[Hand of Patrick O'Keeffe:]RATHMHATH:Die XVI Januarii.


His father was Fintan the son of Findloga King of Munster; & his mother Gelgeis the daughter of Aedfind the younger brother of King Brendinus. Aedfind was Prince of Hy Briuin in Connaught and the parent of the most noble families of O'Rourke & O'Reilly, as appears from the Book of Lecan and the Culdee in his tract on the mothers of the Saints - {abstract from text & notes}.

Fintan "knew" Gelgeis unknown to her father; she conceived. Aedfind having discovered condemned her to be burned. &c. ***

{AASS. p. 76 col: a.} VII. But Fintan had at the island (10) Esbren an uncle by name Brendan a venerable Prelate, distinguished for his two-fold ({i.e. human & divine}) science, and honesty of morals in the service of God, who had built a monastery in the Island which is called Cluain-fearta (11). ***

Fintan and his wife fled for shelter from the fury of Aedfind, and were kindly received in hospitality by Brendan, in the "cella hospitum" of his monastery* where young Fursaeus was born. The child was baptized by Brendan, who called him Fursaeus" (13) quod ex virtutibus in nostra locutione de Scotica lingua interpretatur". Fursaeus under the direction of S. Brendan became distinguished for learning & virtues; nor did he want the power of working miracles. ***

(p. 77, col. b.) XI. Therefore the King and the inhabitants, and also the neighbouring people hearing of the dignity, and the name of the aforesaid saint, visit him with great preparation, and commit themselves to his holy prayers day and night.


Whence the enemy of the human race pining away subverts (perverts) the hearts of the Monks of the island, and caused the stings of envy and hatred to rage against the just and innocent. Therefore the pious man discovering their fury, having received leave from the Blessed prelate, Brandan, and having used his own and his {friends'} counsel, passed to another island called Rathmat (I5 [rectè 14]), in which beside the lake called Erbsen, (15) he built a venerable Monastery with its necessary cells; and established in the same place by the bounty of God, a great congregation of religious Monks. ***

XXI. See Extracts for lnisquin.XXX1X. p. 82. He died on this 16th of January.


{p. 89. col: b:} 10. Erat autem Fintano apud Esbren Insulam patruus Brendanus Autistes venerandus &c. c. 7 - This was beyond doubt, as appears from the following number, S. Brendan of Clonfert. But two doubts arise concerning those things which are here asserted of him. First where, or what is the island Esbren, or as elsewhere more frequently Erbren? as no island or Church of the name which I know of is found in Ireland. But I think that we ought to read either Ard-Breninn i.e. the mountain or hill of Brendan; or more correctly Erbsen or Orbsen. For there is a place in Munster, which is everywhere called Ardfearta, sometimes Ardfearta Breninn or Ard-Breninn, in which was formerly a noble Monastery of S. Brendan, and at present an Episcopal see. There is also in the western district of Connaught in the lake Orbsen an island, in which S. Brendan built a sacred edifice as is had in his Irish life c. 59; and it is beyond doubt that which is here erroneously called Insula Esbren, but correctly insula Erbsen or Orbsen. The second doubt is how S. Brendan could be the uncle of S. Fursaeus, since they have genealogies widely different, as is evident from the Menologium genealogicum, in which c. 27. S. Brendan is said to have derived his origin from the seed of Kierius or Cyrus the son of Fergus. But Fursaeus ch. 25 & 37. from another family widely different. Whence he was either the brother of the aforesaid Fintan the father of S. Fursaeus, by the mother's side only; or certainly some person deceived by the equivocal name of both fathers, supposed that they, whose country was the same, and whose fathers had the same name, were brothers german. For Saint Brendan in his own life, and by all every where is called the son of Finnloga, and Fintan the Father of Fursaeus in this life is named the son of Finloga; but that Finnloga was far different from this as he was the son of Olcon the son of Alta &c. of the seed {as I have said} of Kier; but the latter was the son of Luachan of the stock of Modh-nuadhat, or Malchrocius according to what is to be said below in the appendix Chapter.


11. {see Clonfert)

12. {A note on a passage which says that Fursaeus's parents many of whom were there {plerique enim inibi (12) erant} came to Brendan's monastery, to visit Fintan & his wife &c}.

Parentes enim ejus plerique enim ibi aderant. c. 8. To wit near Clonfert; understand {this} concerning his parents on the mother's side, who as I have said, was of (from) Connaught, in which {is} Clonfert.


Fursaeum nomine quod in nostra locutione, de virtutibus de Scotica lingua interpretatur. c. 8. This derivation, unless the word be corrupted, escapes my comprehension. Perhaps this appellation from the etymon of the word, was Fearta, which means virtutes; and afterwards by corrupt usage passed into Fursa, in which manner S. Fursaeus began afterwards to be called; but there were many Saints Fursaei as shall be said below c. 4. ***

13. Trans mare ad sepeliendum ea B. Brandano furtim mitti Episcopo. c. 9. This sea, if S. Brendan were then at Clonfert, was nothing else than the river Shannon. &c. *** But I think more truly that S. Brendan lived there in the aforesaid island of the great and spacious lake Orbsen, which is here called a sea on account of its great length and breadth.

14. Ad aliam insulam Rathmhath nuncupatam transit. c. 11. The Monastery which is here said to have been built in this island by S. Fursaeus, unless I am deceived, is the parish church of the Diocese of Tuam, in the Deanery of Enach-duin near lake Erbsen, which at present from the name of the Founder is called Kill-fursa.

15.Secus lacum Erbsen. Esbren was in the MS. but Orbsen ({Killursa}) should be read according to what is said in num 10. Whence what is said there and in num. 14 is confirmed by these things for it is here indicated that that Island was in lake Orbsen.


{AASS. 96. col: a.}

Werner in his fasciculus temporum at the year 584 informs us that S. Fursaeus flourished in Ireland about this year; which also I think consistent with truth. &c &c


{p. 96. col. a:} But there is a greater controversy about the year of his death, in which five opinions occur: The first that he died in the year 630; thus the Martyrologium Anglicanum at the 25th of February; 2nd - an. 636; 3rd - at least not before about 655; 4th 660. ***

The fifth therefore and true opinion is, that this most holy man died in the year 652. For thus the different Annals of Ireland hand down, to which it more belonged to observe the year of the death of this holy man, as for the most part they (have) observed with exactness (also) that of other Saints his fellow- countrymen, as the Annals of Roscrea in which is written thus. Anno 652: S. Fursaeus died (pausavit) in


Perona in Gaul, and {then} is added. The father of S. Fursaeus {was} Lochius of Dalaradia, and his mother Gelghesia the daughter of the King of Connaught. The Annals of Boyle have the same, as Ware writes. 1. 1. on the writers of Ireland C. 3. and from them Ware himself ibidem.


{p. 97, col: b} But I find that on seven days throughout the year either some festival or the commemoration of S. Fursaeus is observed by Hagiologists, as on the 16th of January, the 6th of February, 25th of February, 4th of March, 17th of September, & 28th of September. ***


[Hand of John O'Donovan resumed:] Archdall says of this monastery, p. 296

There are no traces of this church but Colgan supposes it to be a parish church near Lough Corrib which is now called Kill-fursa.

Most certainly this is a very odd manner of saying the thing.

Where does the Leabhar Breac or the Festilogy of Aengus place the church of the great Saint Fursa, the son of Fintan? Surely not upon an island, but at a fort called Rathmath (near Loch Oirbsen). The old church now called after his name, is two miles east of that spacious lake.


Belonging to this parish and lying in Lough Corrib {anciently Loch Orbsen} Inis Ui (Ua) chuinn still preserves its ancient name without much corruption. This name it received from St. Mellanus, and his brothers who were patronymically called Ui Chuinn, who built a monastery on it about the year 580. No traces of this monastery are now however now visible and it is highly probable that the ecclesiastical establishment of St. Mellan or Meldanus was nothing more than a small church and some wooden little houses for his monks. But there is no trace of any church at present, nor any thing from (which) the antiquarian could infer that there was any ecclesiastical building but a small spot formerly used as a burial place for children.

Oh! Where, Dodona, is thine aged oak
Prophetic fount, and oracle divine?
[Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage]

[Hand of Patrick O'Keeffe:]



VII. February{AASS. p. 269. col: a}

I.. Saint Meldanus born in a noble rank among the Irish, derived his origin from the very noble and very ancient stock of (1) Hua-Cuinn; and was conspicuous for miracles in his life-time, and after his death. But the things which he did in his life-time, although formerly most notorious, the injury of time has removed from our notice, except very few things, which rather indicate his dignity and eminence, than enumerate (recensent?) his miracles. The first is, that he was Abbot in the western district of (2) Connaught; for there in a certain island of the spacious lake, which they commonly called Loch-oirb, or as the ancients {named it} Loch-oirbsean {in which {island} also S. Brendan is known to have first (4) dwelled} he acted the {part of} Abbot in a monastery formerly noble and famous. But that island, and the Monastery founded in it, seems to have


taken its denomination from him, and his one, or more brothers german; for it is commonly called Inis-mac-Hua-Cuinn; that is the island of the sons of Hua-Cuinn (5). The second, that he merited to have for his (as a) disciple (6) and spiritual son S. Fursaeus, who afterwards in Ireland, Britain, and Gaul, was conspicuous for the rare sanctity of his life, and for great prodigies (miracles); and who, according to what is to be said immediately, became a great venerator and most devoted client of his master who was already enlisted among the heavenly citizens. Third that he was a distinguished proclaimer of the word of God, and as his merits demanded promoted to the episcopal rank (8), although there is not sufficient evidence as regards the see in which he discharged that office. ***

III. IV. S. Fursaeus after Meldan's death brought his relicks into Britain, and from thence into Gaul, and buried them in the Church of Perona.


V. {p. 271. col. a} *** But although the year, in which this most holy man died, is uncertain, however it is evident that he flourished in Ireland before the year 580 (10), and departed before the year 626 (11); for what is here said of him, and what is said above on the 16th of January concerning S. Fursaeus, compared together, sufficiently shew that, but his festival according to domestic hagiologists everywhere, is observed on (12) the seventh of the Ides of February.


{p. 271. col. a} 1. Perantiqua stirpe Hua Cuinn &c. c. 1. Thus Marian Gorman, the Martyrology of Tallaght, and others to be cited below in the last number. The stock of Hua-Cuinn most celebrated among the Irish received its name from Conn, or Constantine surnamed Kedchathach i.e. of (a) the hundred battles; and from it sprung at least 56 Kings of all Ireland; but the nobility of that stock are every where called Hua Cuinn; as v.g. Cormac Hua Cuinn. Capgravius indeed in the life of Saint Cuthbert chap. 3. indicates that S. Meldan the uncle of S. Cuthbert was the son of Muircheartach King of Ireland; But that this King was of the stock of Hua Cuinn is a thing certain from the catalogue and genealogy of the Kings of Ireland. The same Meldan (also) was a Bishop, as also he of whom we treat here. I however on account of other reasons for doubting, which there is not time here to examine, refer the resolution of this [In right-hand margin: {there would appear to be some words wanting here}]


doubt to the life of S. Cuthbert at the 20th of March, and its notes. There are moreover recorded others of this name among the saints of our country, as S. Meldanus, or which is the same, Mellanus of Kill-rois 28 January; Saint Mellan of Cluain aoi 19th March; and S. Mellan of Tamlacta, who together with Saints Beoan and Nazadius is venerated in the Church of Tamlacta-umhuil near (juxta) Lough Bricreann (Brickland) in Ulster, on the 26th of October, but perhaps the same S. Meldan, to wit, he of whom we treat here, is he who is venerated in those places on different days; for S. Beoan was the companion of our present {saint}, as appears from what is said in his life, as also {in that} of the other who is venerated on the 26th of October.

2 & 3. Abbas in occidentali regione Connaciae, ibi enim in insula quodam &c. This is collected from what is to be said in number 4.

4. In qua priús S. Brendanus habitasse &c. Thus the Irish life of S. Brendan chap. 59. Saint Brendan, it says, proceeded into the district of Connaught to the island of the sons of Hua Cuinn in lake Oirsean &c. he built a cell, and performed many miracles. Perhaps S. Meldan and his brothers were the disciples of S. Brendan, and received that place from him, for Saint Furseus the intimate friend of S. Meldan was also the disciple of S. Brendan in that same {col. b} island, as is had in his life book 1. c. 7. 8. 9. 10 & 11. Whence he seems to have there contracted his first familiarity with S. Meldan.

5. Inis-mac Hua Cuinn &c. c. 1. It is so called in the life of S. Brendan, chap. 59. and by others to be cited in the last number.


6. Discipulum &filium spiritualem habere S. Furseus. Thus Maguire treating of S. Furseus on the 26th of February, where he says: S. Meldanus the son of Hua Cuinn, of lake Orbsen in Connaught, was the synedrus or spiritual Father of S. Furseus. See what is said in number 4, and what is to be said in the last number, and the life of S. Fursaeus book 1, chap. 7. 8. 9. 10. & 11; from which it is evident, that they were both in the aforesaid island of Lough Orbsen; and from the cited 11th chap. of the life of S. Fursaeus, and our notes to the same num. 15 it appears (constat) that S. Fursaeus had another monastery, near that monastery, beside the same Lough Orbsen.

7. Egregius verbi Dei preco Cap. 1. For in the cited life of S. Furseus book 2. chap. 15 he is called the colleague of S. Fursaeus; nor do I see in what he could be better called his colleague than in the preaching of the word of God.

8. Ad Episcopalem gradum promotus, &c. C. 1. The cited author of the life of Furseus book 1. chap. 19. in the words above cited calls him Praesul; and Desmaius above chap. 7. number 1. calls him Bishop. And although Bede in book the 2nd chap. 19. calls him Priest, by priest after the manner of the ancients, he understands Bishop. And Aengus the Culdee in his book of Orders, chap. 1. reckons two Meldans Bishops, one or other of whom, seems to have been this (Meldan). 9. ***

10. Ante annum 580 floruisse &c. cap. 6. For Saint Furseus, whose spiritual father he was, flourished in Ireland in that year, as appears from what is said in the appendix to his life chap. 7.

11. Ante annum 626 decessisse. In the year 629 or 625 S. Fursaeus had the visions of which above, as appears from what is said in chap. 7. of the appendix to his life; but S. Meldanus appeared to him in that vision; and consequently died before.


12. Septimo Idus Februarii. Thus the Martyrology of Tallaght. On the same day, it says, S. Meldanus of the island of the sons of Hua-Cuinn. The Calendar of Cashel 7th February S. Mellanus of the island of the sons of Hua-Cuinn in Lough Orbsen, in the territory of Hibh-sen in Western Connaught. Marian Gorman 7 February S. Mellanus the son of Hua-Cuinn of Lough Orbsen. Maguire and the Martyrology of Donegal hand down the same.

{The following account of the apparition of S. Meldanus to S. Fursaeus, {see note 11 suprà} is given in the Life of S. Fursaeus XVIth of January. AASS. p. 79. col: b.}

XXI. In the mean time beholding two venerable men of that Province, in which the man of the Lord (had been born), (In left-hand margin: {no principal verb}] seeing whom he believed that they had died. These Prelates the memory of all celebrates even to our own times. Whom he saw approaching nearer to him, and familiarly telling their proper names; for they were called (19) Beoanus, and Meldanus; and they began to speak to (with) him.


(p. 90. Col. a.) 19. His praesules cunctorum memoria usque ad nostra tempora celebrat &c., vocabantur Beoanus & Meldanus, C. 21. Saint Aengus places the birth-day of these, and of Saint Nassadius their companion at the 26th of October; and the Martyrology of Tallaght adds at the same day: The Feast of Saints Nassadius Beoanus and Mellanus, three saints of Britain, and in one Church namely in Tamhlachta umhail, in the territory of Iveagh in Ulster near Loughbrickland (Loch Bricrenn). Aengus increased and the


Martyrology of Cashel testify the same. But in this life they seem to be called Irish by origin, whilst it is said: Conspiciens interea duos venerabiles viros illius Provinciae in qua vir Domini Fursaeus natus erat. And Desmaius more clearly teaches the same, c. 7, and other authors. Concerning S. Meldanus, the following occurs in the life of St. Patrick by Jocelyn c. 93. {he is stated to have been one of the six clerks (i.e. Ecclesiastics) by nation Irishmen whom St. Patrick returning from Britain met on their way to Rome}. Also in the Irish life of S. Patrick book 2. this Meldan is said to have been Bishop of Cluan crem in Ireland. But the circumstance of time does not sufficiently permit mention to be made of this Meldanus; but well concerning another of whom Maguire at the 16th of January speaking thus: S. Meldanus the son of Hua-Cuind of Loch-oirbsean in Connaught was the Sinedrus or spiritual Father of S. Fursaeus &c. This beyond doubt is he who appeared to his disciple and son S. Fursaeus, and whose relicks he brought with him into Britain; of whose also other apparition made to Colman the Monk mention is made in the life of S. Comgall chap. 55. and his festival is observed in the Church of Inis-mhic-y-chuinn in the aforesaid place of Lochoirbsean in Connaught on the 7th of February according to Marian Gorman, the Martyrology of Tallaght & Aengus increased. See more about him at the same day ***


[Hand of John O'Donovan resumed:] In this parish of Killursa is also situated the extensive abbey of Ross, anciently Ros-Oirbheallaigh, which, according to the Four Masters, was erected in the year 1351 for Franciscan friars. But Ware writes that it was erected so late as the year 1498 by the Lord Granard.

Who was lord Granard at this period?

In the townland of Annaghkeen adjoining Loch oirb in this parish is a small grave yard called Cill-Cronain, i.e. the church of St. Cronan which is said to have been a monastery in ancient times.


In the townland of Carrowbeg also in this parish of Killursa is situated the holy well of Tobar Chiarain, at which stations were performed on every Sunday, but particularly on the 9th of September, which is said to be St. Kieran's day. One would expect that this well should be called after St. Fursa, the patron of the parish.

I find nothing else of antiquarian interest in this parish but a small burial place called Cill-dá-righ, the church of the two Kings, and the old castle of Annaghkeen, which stands on the margin of Loch Oirb. There is a great part of this castle still standing. Tradition ascribes its erection to the Boorkes or de Burgos.

The natives of this and the adjoining parishes which verge on Loch Oirb assert


that all the islands in that lake even Inis-beag opposite the castle of Eanach Caoin, belong to Iar Connaught, formerly the country of the O'Flaherty's.

Very few of the natives of these parishes can speak a word of English, but they speak their oulde Irish very fluently, though there is not one among them who could read it.

Next to this parish to the east and south and verging on Lough Oirb lies the small parish of Cargins. Its old church is locally called Séipéal A' Chairgín, the chapel of Cargeen, and is believed to have been originally a chapel of ease and not a parish church. It is of


small extent and mean architecture, and evidently of no great antiquity. All its architectural features are destroyed, and there is nothing in its vicinity, such as well or penitential monument, to shew that it was ever dedicated to any of the great Irish saints.

In the townland of Cahergal in this parish is the largest Cyclopean fort I have yet seen in Ireland. It is now always called Cathair Gheal, i.e. white fort, but this is most certainly not its original name, it having derived it in modern times from the white color of the stones.

This fort is truly Cyclopean being formed of massy stones, some of which are so heavy that one must wonder how a rude people unacquainted with science were able to lift them to the height at which they appear in this massy wall.


This Cathair is more extensive than the round Castle of the Hag in Lough Mask. It is 117 feet in diameter; the wall is ten feet thick, and in the highest part ten feet in height, and the people assert that before a quantity of its stones were removed to build the Barracks at Headford it was from sixteen to twenty feet in height. The entrance or doorway is at the east side, but now much destroyed. There is one remarkable pillar stone to the right of this entrance {as you look to the west} on which several celebrated antiquarians have found and copied an inscription in Hieroglyphic character, that is, in the Ideolic (idiotic) not Phonetic signs, but I would swear by the sun and moon and by all the elements visible and invisible that these impressions were never formed by the hands of man. Let the Geologist judge.


There is a townland in this parish called Kill-Muiré in which I expected to find a little chapel dedicated to the virgin, but no such is now to be found, though such certainly must have existed at the time the townland received its name.

There are countless (cahers or) stone forts consisting of one circle throughout this rocky district, but they are almost all destroyed, and I could identify none of them with history. Stone forts are (in fact) nearly as numerous in this stony Country as earthen forts are in the stoneless Country of Meath.

East of the small parish of Cargins and extending from the town of Headford to Loch Oirb, lies the parish of Cill-Eidhne, which is locally called the parish of Cloch an Uabhair, from the situation


of the R.C. Chapel near a castle of that name. The old church is said to have been built by St. Eidne {prd. Ainé (ai-né)} who was the brother of Fursa and Cuana, as I have already remarked, but this is but partly true, that is, it is very probably true that the first church ever erected in this parish was built by a person esteemed holy called Eidhne but it is not true that he was the brother of Fursa.

The present old church of Kill-Eidhne is certainly not more than 4 centuries old but it is highly probable, if not certain, that it occupies the site of a more ancient church. (Is there any mention of this Eine or Eidhne in any of our Calendars?)

St. Eny's holy well, called in Irish Tobar Eidhne is situated a short distance to the north of the old church, and


a large and venerable ash tree grows over it.

Not far from this old church is situated the Castle of Cloch an uabhair {lapis superbiae} said to have been built by a branch of the Burkes and to have belonged to them till a few years ago. The part of the castle which remains shews it to have been small but well built.

It is said to have been taken its name of Cloch an Uabhair from a stone which stands in a field close to it, and which is said to have been cast hither from a distant hill, by a witch called Cailleach an Uabhair the witch or hag of pride, who impressd. the marks of her thumb and three fingers in it. Sic fabulosa traditio!


East of the parish of Killeny and verging also on Loch Oirb lies the parish of Cill Chuana, the church of St. Cuana, who is supposed, but erroneously, by tradition, to have been a brother of St. Fursa. His church like that of Kill-Fursa and (of) Kill-Eany, has been remodelled and modernized, and his well called Dabhach Chuana, which was formerly frequented by pilgrims, lies in the townland of Cnoc Ceirin.

Colgan speaks of St. Cuana as follows on the next page. He had another church called Kilcoona in the Country of Tir Briuin lying between Elphin and Jamestown in the County of Roscommon. Have we marked this on the Ordnance map?


[Hand of Patrick O'Keeffe:]



IV. FebruaryRATHMHATH:{AA.SS. p. 249.}

(col: a) He was born towards the close of the 6th century (1). In his youth he was a disciple of his (step-) brother S. Carthagius.

(col: b) *** For his father was (3) Midarnus, the son of Dubhratha (4) the grandson of Niall the Great King of Ireland by his son Ennius; but his mother Meda (5), according to others Finmeda, Fionmaith, Cormeda, Cormania, and Comaina {for she is variously called by various {writers}} being begotten of Fingen her father, a noble man, in the Western district of Munster near (beside) the Ocean, derived her origin from the tribe, and territory of Corca duibhne. She by different marriages was the mother of 2 {according to others more} sons, who became distinguished Saints. {p.250, col: a:} The first was S. Carthagius the son of Findallus, [In left-hand margin: {abstract}] or as others {have it} Fingenus, Abbot of Rathen in Meath, & BP. of Lismore in Munster. But the second, saint Cuanna, of whom we here make discourse, from {being} a Monk, or, as others write Abbot, of Lismore, {became} Abbot of the Monastery of Kill-chuanna in the Western district of Connaught. Whence the Calendar of Cashel: 4th Febr: The Birthday of S. Cuanna, whose Church is in the Western


district of Connaught, and another of Kill-chuanna in the territory of Tir-briuin; Cormana {was} the name of his mother. He is of (from) Lismore, and by the same mother the brother of saint Mochudda. By these {remarks} it is indicated that he was either Monk or Abbot of Lismore, as also in the Martyrology of Tallaght in these words: 4. February {the feast} of S. Cuanna of Lismore. The same is indirectly indicated (subindicatur) in the life of his brother and master S. Carthagius chap. 33. where it is said that this saint Cuanna together with S. Dimma Bishop was sent by S. Carthagius from the monastery of Rathen in Meath to the territory of South Munster, called Huibh-echach, or Huanechach, situated not far from Lismore: Then immediately {says the author of the aforesaid life} Bishop Dimma proceeded to his own country; and another holy Bishop by name Cuanna the disciple of S. Carthagius, set out with him as a pilgrim (peregrinus), full of the grace of God &c. where although he is called Bishop, however I do not think that he then was, but that he was afterwards ordained Bishop. But


either Marian Gorman or his Scholiast at the 4th day of February expressly makes him Abbot of Lismore, writing thus: Saint Cuanna Abbot of Lismore. But what this most holy man performed in that office, or in what manner he was translated from Lismore to Connaught, I am not ready (prepared) to relate; for of his acts I have not as yet been able to see {any} unless one mutilated and headless fragment, in which inasmuch as his wonderful charity, {his} extraordinary faith, his great confidence in God, & the many and famous miracles which were performed by him are related, we subjoin it here, just as it lies.



{p. 250 col: a} III. Then his {people} {said} to him: you yourself on account of your simplicity have given them a sign, that they would fly before us; depart therefore from


us, [In left-hand margin: obscure] and do not appear again amongst us hereafter. And (discidentibus ipsis) they (themselves) departing (into their own territory), sent him away into the land of {his} enemies. {or, "... [A crossed out passage] ..."}

{Et discedentibus ipsis, in regionem suam dimiserunt eum in terra inimicorum.1

IV. Then the disciple of Christ came to the bank of the great Lake, which is called Loch-orbsen; and sitting there on a broad stone (rock), he wept and afterward, slept there. But {He} who does not desert, unless he is first deserted, and whose consolations gladden even to (in proportion to) the measures of {our (one's)} griefs, sent his Angels, one scilicet to the head, and another to the feet of {him} sleeping; and so as another Habachuc, not however cum pulmento (pottage, gruel, stewed meat, Ainsworth), but with a large stone, they bring him through the air to the shore of the land of his (13) nature. The disciple of Christ also awaking from his sleep, and performing acts of thanks to Christ, came to a certain


place, where he eagerly longed to dwell from that out. There also he built a tabernacle to the God of Jacob, and faithfully served his God.

V The fame also of his sanctity being heard, behold the birds of heaven, that is, just men, flying to heaven, forsooth with the flight of contemplation, and of sincere charity, flock to him from every direction, that they may receive from him the food of life. Being refreshed therefore when they come, both by the word of his doctrine, and by the example of the life of the good shepherd himelf, they desire to reside under his rod, as sheep of the pasture of eternal life. Which when they did, they daily make an increase of good works; and building a famous Church, they call it Cell-cuonna (14) from the name of their master. In this place God shewed many miracles through his saints, and especially through S. Cuannach the Patron and Abbot of the place.

VI. At a certain other time the brethren of the holy man, were assembled, desiring to take


revenge (vengeance) on the aforesaid people of Gnomor. And, when their intention became known to the man of God, wishing to return good for evil, he went before them with his disciples, and gave notice to the enemies (enemy) of the approach of his brethren, and bade them fly. Which when they did, they escaped the hostile sword.

VII. The man of God returning with his {dis-ciples} to the bank of the aforesaid lake Orbsen, found there the stone on which the Angels before brought him to his own land. Therefore the pious pastor confiding in Him, who walked on the sea with dry footsteps, got upon the stone with his eight disciples, and it floating like the safest ship, brought them standing on the water to the land of {their (his)} nativity. The man of God ordered this stone to be carried to his cell, on which, as is said, he remained seven Lents emaciating himself. Whence on account of his merits many infirm {persons} recovered health there.

VIII. ***


IX. *** There (ibi) was also a fountain, which received its name from him, in which he descending by night used to sing the psalter even to the end. [In right-hand margin:] "decantare solitus psalterium in mediis aquis"

X. *** XI. &c ***

XV. But the man of God full of merits and virtues seems to have died, about (20) the year 650; but his birthday, (21) according to haliologists in common is celebrated on the 4th day of February. He is said to have written the Annals (22) of Ireland (continued) down to his own times, or to the year of Christ 628.


1. Saeculo sexto ad finem declinante. &c. It is thus collected from the life of S. Carthagius 14 May, for Carthagius his brother, and Master, died in the year 636, and sent him already grown up before him into Munster, whilst he dwelled at Rathen, about the year 620.

2. Cuanna sive Cuanacheus &c {His name} is variously read, at one time Cuanus, at another Cuanacheus, but properly Cuanna, as appears from the Irish. Where by the bye observe that ua with the Irish is a diphthong, and so that these words Cuanna and Cuanan are dissyllables; and that this {word} Cuan is sometimes


a monosyllable, {&} sometimes a dissyllable; and that in both ways it can be a proper and appellative name; but if it be taken as a monosyllable, it signifies (equivocally) an offspring or foetus, and a bay of the sea; if as a dissyllable, a little dog, for Cu is the same as dog; & Cuan its diminutive, the same as little dog. But these three names in sound (voce) sufficiently resembling and different in sense (re), were usual with our saints formerly, as appears from the Calendars of saint Aengus, of Marian, of Cathal Maguire, and of Tallaght, and the Annals of Donegal, in which the following things are related of them. The present Cuanna died, and is venerated on the 4th Febr:

*** {Catalogue sequitur} ***

3. Pater illi fuit Midarnus Cap. 1. Thus the old Scholiast of S. Aengus, and an old Anonymous {writer} to be quoted below in num. 10. and others immediately to be quoted in the following number.

4. Dubrathae Nelli Magni, & ex Ennio filio nepotis &c. cap. I. Thus in his genealogy given in the Menologium genealogicum c. 7. in the life of S. Forannan chap. 1. and by Cuchogry in his book on the genealogy of the saints Chap. 2.

5. Mater Meda &c Chap. 1. In both the Latin, as well as the Irish life of S. Carthagius. Chap. 1. she is called Meadh, by which word also with the Irish formerly was signified that kind of honeyed liquor, which was in frequent use among the ancients, and was called mead {metheglin}.

6. *** 7. *** 8. *** 9. *** 10. *** 11. *** 12. ***


13. Ad terrae suae naturae littora &c. cap. 4. By the land of his nature, he understands that of his birth, or his country, whence it is here indicated that S. Cuanna was born in Connaught, as it was there he founded the Church of Kill chuanna.

14. Nomine Magistri sui Cell-cuanna. cap. 5. It is now a Parish Church of the Diocese of Tuam, in the Deanery of Eanach-duin, and County of Galway, as is held in the List of the Churches of the same Diocese extant in my possession.

14. *** 15. *** 16. *** 17. *** 18. *** 19. ***

20. Videtur obiisse circa annum 650, cap. ult. This is collected from the end of his life, where it is indicated that he died in the same year, in which that congregation (assembly) of saints was made (held) which in number 17 we have said was made (held) about the aforesaid year.

Mentioned in the text - {a multitude of Saints to the number of 1746 assembled in a pleasant field near the church of S. Cuanna, for the purpose of keeping up a holy fraternity, with S. Cuanna, and one another. &c &c &c.}

21. Ejus vero natalis 4: Febro. Thus saint Aengus, Marian Gorman, the Martyrology of Tallaght, Cathal Maguire, the Calendar of Cashel, and the Martyrology of Donegal at the same day

22. Scripsisse fertur Annales Hiberniae. Thus Ware on the writers of Ireland book I. c. 3. insinuates. In the Annals {says he} of Ulster {we call these Senatenses} I find the book of Cuanna, alias Cuannach often, quoted up to the year 628, but not afterwards. Whence I conjecture that he was the author of a Chronicle, and flourished about this time &c. But other saints of this name of whom we have made mention above flourished afterwards, some after the year 700, and others after 800.



XV. Feb:RATHMHATH:AASS. p. 337. col. a.

Ch. VIII. *** S. Columba (i.e. Columbkille) passed from Traigh-Eothuile, to the territory of Tyr-Fhiachrach, where Tibradius the son of Maelduin Chief of that territory, and his son Dunchadius, came to salute the holy Patriarch and his most holy train of companions; and received the holy men with honor. Malduinus the son of Tibradius was the grandson of Dathi King of Ireland (by his son Fiachra); {and} Tibradius himself, as he was of royal blood, so also being of {royal} mind was much celebrated for his eminent liberality, as his acts testify with living arguments. For he gave to S. Columba, and his sacred company three very delightful places to build Churches, which {churches} he also enriched with extensive lands. The first place was called Cnoc-na-maoile in that age, afterwards from S. Adamnan Abbot called (42) Scrin-Adhamhnain i.e. Scrinium S. Adamnani. The second place {was called} Kill-chuanna from (43) S. Cuannan, whom S. Columba had placed over that place. The third was formerly called All na fairgsiona (44) {col: b} afterwards All-Farannani from S. Furannan, upon whom S. Columba conferred it.



{p. 340 col: b} 42. {in the territory of Tireragh, Diocese of Killala}

43. A. S. Cuannano dicitur Kill-chuanna &c {This} is in the same Diocese and territory. There is also another of the same name, in the territory of Tir-bhriuin.

44. Posteà Allfarannani appellatus. c. 8. It is in the same Diocese and territory, and at the present day is frequented with great devotion of the people on account of the very many cures both of men and cattle which are performed there.

In said Life of S. Farannan ch. V. p. 336, col: b: it is stated that S. Cuanus the son of (9) Midhornus sprung from Eoghan the son of Niall of the 9 hostages {see beginning of S. Cuanan's life} was one of those who were deputed to go to S. Columba at (to) Iona, to request him to attend at the council of Druimcheat.

Colgan in his note (9) makes him the S. Cuanna of Kill-chuanna who is venerated on the 4th of February, and quotes the Calendar of Cashel in words somewhat differing from those given in the beginning of his life {4th Feb} {vide supra}.

{ad 4 Februarii}AASS. p. 338. col: b.

Natalis Cuannani, in occidentali parte Connaciae est ejus Ecclesia, & est alia Ecclesia de Kill-chuanna in regione de Tyrbriuin. Mater ejus vocabatur Corman, colitur Lismori, & fuit ex parte matris, frater S. Mochuddae.


[Hand of John O'Donovan resumed:] In the townland of Ballinduff in this parish are to be seen the ruins of a castle said to have belonged to the Skerretts. This castle (place) is mentioned in the Annals of the 4 Masters at the year 1469, as the site of a contest between Clanrickard and O'Donnell.

I find nothing else of historical or antiquarian interest in this parish but some forts of stone consisting (each) of a single circle, and much destroyed.

I now go to Galway but shall return to-morrow again.

Your obedient Servt.,
J. O'Donovan.

*We are not informed whether at Esbren or Clonfert; Colgan seems to think the latter, see note 12. Yet in note 13 he believes he was in Lough Orbsen.