Ireland: Top Saints

Saints K-W

Saint Kennoch – see Saint Mochaomhog

Saint Kerrill, aka Caireall mac Curnain was a member of the Soghain people of Connacht, specifically those located in the kingdom of that name in what is now east County Galway. Local tradition maintains that Saint Patrick did extensive missionary work among the Soghain. Kerrill was a disciple of Saint Benan of Kilbennan. Legends told about Kerrill include his fight with an Oll-phéist (terrible serpent) which was devastating the area about Cloonkeen. Kerrill is portrayed as having a rivalry with Saint Connell, who’s eccleastical territory bounded Kerrill’s. One outcome was a mutual cursing, in which Connell said May there be blood shed on every fair day in Kilconnell to which Connell replied May there be a funeral every Monday in Cloonkeen. To this day no funerals are held in Cloonkeenkerrill on Monday. Connell has been mistaken for Conainne, a female missionary and founder of Kilconnell. A miracle told of Kerrill stated that his intercessions with God allowed Cianóg ní Cicharáin to become pregnant after years of a childless marriage. She bore two daughters, who were the respective ancestors of Brian Boru and the Ó Conchobair Kings of Connacht. Kerrill was important enough to be rated “the second Patrick of that fifth” (i.e. province).

Saint Kevin of Glendalough

Saint Kevin / Keivin / Coemgen of Glendalough (498-618 AD) was born to a wealthy family in Ireland in 498 AD. He was baptized by Saint Cronan and at seven he was put under the tutelage of Saint Petrocus. After five years with him he was placed under the care of three anchorites (Dogain, Lochan, and Enna). He spent three years under their guidance, studying the Holy Scriptures before taking on the monastic habit. Some time later he founded a monastery at Glendalough.

The reputation of Saint Kevin and his monastery attracted a growing number of pilgrims, thus making Glendalough into a great and holy city. Saint Kevin then was elevated to the status of bishop, and erected a church there under the invocation of Saints Peter and Paul.

Saint Kevin’s patience was also the stuff of legend: a story is told that once a bird laid an egg in the palm of his hand. Saint Kevin, not wanting to harm the egg, remained motionless until the egg was hatched.

Saint Kevin died on 3rd July 618 AD, aged 120. His Feast Day is celebrated on 3rd July in both Western and Orthodox calendars, but in Ireland it is celebrated on the 3rd June.

Saint Kieran – see Saint Ciarán

Saint Kilian / Killian / Cillian of Würzburg was one of the Top Early Irish Missionaries.

Saints Lasair Inghean – “sister” of Saint John of Mushera

Saint Lasserian / Laisrén of Devenish, aka Saint Laisrén mac Nad Froích (d. 564 AD), also known by his petname Mo Laisse, was the founder of a monastery at Devenish / Daim-inis (lit. ‘Ox-island’) in Lough Erne. One story which links him to famous contemporaries claims that he studied the Gospels under the mentorship of St Finian of Clonard. Among the more action-packed anecdotes, there is one which relates how Laisrén, utilizing his miraculous powers, subdued the local pagan king, Conall Derg (father of Saint Enda of Aran). The last significant events narrated in his Lives include a pilgrimage to Rome. One of his stopping places was at Ferns, where he visited his foster-brother Saint Máedóc and promised him to do good on his behalf. He is said to have returned to Devenish with relics of Peter and Paul, Laurence and Clement, which were buried with him in the cemetery, so that Devenish could become an Irish Rome. According to early Irish Martyrologies, his Feast Day was on 12th  September.

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

Saint Laurence O’Toole / Lorcan Ua Tuathail is one of the Later Irish Saints.

Saint Leo established an early Christian settlement on the tiny island of Inishark, near Inishbofin off the coast of Connemara.

Saint Livinus is the patron of Killulagh, Co. Westmeath, where he is described as  a local saint thought to have been a contemporary of Saint Patrick.

Saint  Lommán / Loman, Patron Saint of Trim, was one of the many alleged relatives of Saint Patrick.

Saint Lorcan Ua Tuathail – see Saint Laurence O’Toole

Saint Macartan grew up in the northern part of Ireland. Before his conversion to Christianity the future saint was known by the name Aidus, the son of Caerthen. Hence his later name was Macartan. Hearing of Saint Patrick‘s teaching Aidus travelled south from his father’s home to hear him preach. Their first meeting took place  near Dromahair, in modern County Leitrim. Here Macartan was baptized and soon became one of Patrick’s missionary staff. He was spoken of as Patrick’s “champion” or “strong man”. We are told that when the great Apostle was worn out by his work that Macartan supported his faltering steps over rough roads, marshes and rivers. He was the “staff of Patrick” in the patron saint’s declining years. On one occasion after carrying Patrick over a river, an exhausted Macartan expressed a wish that he might be relieved from further travel and allowed settle down in charge of some church close-by his beloved master where he could spend the evening of his life in peace. Patrick, full of sympathy for his faithful companion and friend agreed that he should establish a monastery in Clogher and finish out his life there. The promise of the See was soon to be fulfilled. A monastery was established near the ancient royal fort of Rathmore and one of Ireland’s oldest bishoprics was established. To commemorate the occasion Patrick gave Macartan his staff and a number of precious relics contained in a shrine known to tradition as the Domhnach Airgid.

Saint Madelgisilus was a friend of Saint Fursey / Fursa, and travelled with him to Picardy in the first half of the C7th AD. Feast Day – 30th May.

Saint Máedóc – see Saint Aedan of Ferns

Saint Máel Máedóc Ua Morgair / Maelmhaedhoc Ó Morgair – see Saint Malachy

Saint Mael Rhuba of Applecross was an early Irish missionary to Scotland.

Saint Maelruain, abbot of Tallaght 

Saint Malchus trained Saint Malachy at Lismore c.1135.

Saint Manchan

Saint Manchan was the son of Saint Mella. Tradition makes him a brother of Saint Kieran, but this is seems highly unlikely. He founded a monastery in the first half of the C7th AD at a place since called Lemanaghan (the anglised version of Liath Manchan – “the grey land of Manchan”) in County Offaly. He died of plague aged 32 in 664 AD. His Feast Day is 24th January.


St. Manchan had a wonderful cow that used to provide copious gallons of top class milk, which the saint distributed for no charge to the needy throughout the whole countryside. The monks in nearby Kilmanaghan were jealous, and decided to steal the cow and dispose of her. The good cow went most unwillingly, fighting, struggling and disputing every inch of the way, and managed to leave some trace of her rough passage; her hoof marks and tail marks marks are there to this day. St. Manchan and his monks arrived in hotfoot pursuit at Kilmanaghan only to find the cow already cut up in a pot. The saint carefully picked the portions out of the cauldron, pieced them together, struck them with his stick and lo! The cow came to life again, every bit as good as ever except that she was a wee bit lame on account of one small portion of a foot which was lost. The cow resumed her supply of milk to the poor of Lemanaghan and strange to relate; milk is never sold in Lemanaghan, even to this day.

Saint Manchin was one of the Children of Dediva

Saint Mel died in 488 AD. He is said to have been a Briton who came to Ireland with his uncle, Saint Patrick, with whom he worked until he was ordained in Ardagh. He is one of the earliest Irish saints and gave the religious veil to Saint Brigid. He is the patron saint of the Roman Catholic diocese of Ardagh & Clonmacnois, and is commemorated in the name of the cathedral church of the diocese in Longford and in the name of the main diocesan school for boys, St Mel’s College, also located in Longford town.

Saint Mella was a widow who became abbess of Doiremelle convent in County Leitrim, founded by her son Saint Tigernach, with whom she went to live after the death of her other son, Saint Manchan, who refused to speak to her because she was a woman, but sat in silence with her every day. She is also said to have been the mother of Saint Cannech. She died c.788 AD. An Aer Lingus jet was named after her. She is also revered by the Eastern Orthodox church.

Saint Merolilian of Rheims was an C8th AD preacher from Ireland (Scotigena) who while on a pilgrimage to Rome was killed by robbers besidw the River Axona / L’Aisne. His companions brought the body  to Rheims, where it was interred in an ancient cemetery and forgotten for a long time until miracles revealed the spot where he was buried. In 935 AD his remain were translated to the church of the Holy Apostles and of St. Symphronien, Martyr, where he enjoyed a cult following for several centuries.

Saint Mobhí of Glasnevin

Saint Mochaomhog


Saint Mochaomhog / Mochoemhoc / Kennoch / Pulcherius / Vulcanius (d. 656 AD) was born near Limerick, the son of Bevan and Nessa and the nephew of Saint Ita, who raised and educated him in Munster. He studied with Saint Comgall at Bangor and received ordination there. In 590 AD, he founded the great monastery of Liath-Mochaomhog, now Liathmore / Leigh, close to the present day village of Two-Mile-Borris. Mochaomhog opened a number of other monasteries and is also associated with Scotland, where he was known by the name Kevoca, head of the church of Quivox.

Mochaomhog was the teacher of Saint Dagan and Saint Cuanchear. Great miracles are recorded of him, such as raising the dead. The following excerpt from JG O’Shea‘s book, A Legendary History, demonstrates his powers:

When the King of Cashel dared to contend against the holy abbot Mochaomhog, the first night after the dispute an old man took the King by the hand and led him to the northern city walls. There he opened the King’s eyes, and he beheld all the Irish saints of his own sex in white garments, with Patrick at their head. They were there to protect Mochaomhog, and they filled the plain of Femyn.The second night the old man came again and took the King to the southern wall, and there he saw the white-robed glorious army of Ireland’s virgins, led by Bridget. They too had come to defend Mochaomhog and they filled the plain of Monael“.

Mochaomhog appears in other ancient legends too. In the Children of Lir, it is the bell of Mochaomhog’s monastery which the swans hear at the end of their ordeal, and Mochaohog is the one who baptized and buried them at the end of their journey. Other records note that Mochaomhog prayed for the repose of the soul of Ronan, a chieften of Ele (Durlas Eile or Thurles), and recommended that others do the same.

Saint Mochaomhog still remains a figure of importance in the Two-Mile-Borris area. His Feast Day is 13th March.

Saint Mocholmóc is a pet form of the name Saint Colmán.

Saint Mochua (d. 657 AD) was a warrior who converted to Christianity at the age of 30 and later founded Teách Mochua, from which Timahoe in County Laois takes its name. In Teách Mochua he initially lived as a hermit who had no worldly goods save a rooster, a mouse and a fly. The rooster kept the hours of Matins for him; the mouse never let him sleep more than three hours a day or night, licking his ear until it woke him. The fly’s role was to walk along each line of his Psalter as he read it, and when he was weary with saying his psalms, the fly would abide upon the line where he stopped, until he could return again to the Psalms.

Saint Mochuda – see Saint Carthage

Saint Mo Genóc (Mugenóc) of Cell Duma Glind (Kilglyn) was allegedly  a brother of Saint Lommán of Trim and a Relative of Saint Patrick.

Saint Moinenn was appointed c.560 AD by Saint Brendan the Navigator as the first Prior of the monastic school at Clonfert.

Saint Mo Ling / Moling / Mullin (d. 696 AD) was born in remarkable circumstances when his mother went into labour in the middle of a blizzard, and angels reportedly kept her and her newborn son safe and warm. Initially a monk at Glendalough, he went on to become second Bishop of Ferns and patron saint of the Clan Kavanagh. He founded many several monastic settlements and churches, most notably St Mullin’s in modern County Carlow. Many miracles have been attributed to him. The town of Monamolin in County Wexford is named after him, as is the parish church in Ballycanew. His Feast Day is  17th June.

Saint Mosacer (d. 650 AD), patron of Saggart in County Dublin, succeeded Saint Abban as Abbot of Camross. He was buried in Tomhaggard in modern County Wexford.

Saint Muirchu moccu Machtheni was the late C7th AD author of the Vita sancti Patricii  / Life of Saint Patrick, supposedly based on the lost Book of Saint Ultan.

Saint Munis, an alleged brother of Saint Lomman of Trim and a Relative of Saint Patrick, has a church (CoI) dedicated to him at his supposed burial place in the rural parish of Forgney (Co, Westmeath)

Saint Mugenóc – see Saint Mo Genóc

Saint Munna / Munnu – see Saint Fintan Munnu

Saint Ninnidh was a monk at Kildare Abbey who attended the founder, Saint Brigid, on her deathbed c.525 AD. He was afterwards known as “Ninnidh of the Clean Hand” because he had his right hand encased with a metal covering to prevent it ever being defiled after being the medium of administering the last rites to “Ireland’s Patroness” and “Queen of the South: the Mary of the Gael”.

Saint Ninnidh the Saintly / Pious of Lough Erne was one of the 12 Apostles of Erin.

Saint Oliver Plunkett is the foremost of the Later Irish Saints

Saint Patrick is the foremost of the Patron Saints of Ireland

Saint Pulcherius – see Saint Mochaomhog 

Saint Ragallach / Reghuil / Riagail of Bangor (d. 881 AD) was the Abbot of Bangor at a time when the monastery had been wasted by the Norsemen. It appears to have recovered somewhat during the period of his rule. Feast Day – 11th June.

Saint Rioch founded a monastic community on Inisboffin in Lough Ree around 539 AD.

Saint Ronan of Locronan (C6th AD?) is the name of an Irish pilgrim saint and hermit in western Brittany, eponymous founder of Locronan and co-patron of Quimper. Feast Day – 1st June.

Saint Ruadán of Lorrnha was one of the 12 Apostels of Erin.

Saint Samthann was an abbess of Clonbroney

Saint Secundinus / Sechnall / Seachnall was one of the Pre-Patrician Saints

Saint Senan founded a monastic community on Scattery Island in the River Shannon estuary

Saint Senan of Laraghbrine was the eldest of the Children of Dediva.

Saint Sinell, Abbot of Cluaninis in Lough Erne, educated Saint Columbanus.

Saint Swithbert / Swidbert / Suidbert / Suitbert /  Suitbertus (d. 713 AD), a Northumbrian monk, spent several years training under Saint Egbert of Iona 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 stood on the present site of Killogan graveyard near Carlow Town. Like Saint Willibrord, he went on to become known as one of the “Apostles to the Frisians” in the modern Netherlands, and is considered a patron saint of Germany.

Saint Tigemach of Clones (d. 549 AD) was baptised by Saint Bridget of Kildare (his name meant “Princely”) and was a cousin of Saint Dallán Forgaill and Saint Mogue. He was educated at Rosnat in Britain and travelled to Rome in search of relics for his godmother, who urged him to become a bishop. He earned a saintly reputation for his ascetic lifestyle and for a miracle whereby he raised Doach, the archbishop of Armagh, from the dead. He founded several monasteries, notably those on Galloon Island in Upper Lough Erne and at Clones in modern County Monaghan. He died of plague. His Feast Day is 4th April.

Saint Tirechán was a C7th AD bishop who wrote an untitled biography of Saint Patrick in the form of a memoir (i.e. it is written in the first person). The work, supposedly based on the lost Book of Saint Ultan, his foster father, survives in the manuscript known as The Book of Armagh.

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

Saint Ultan (d.657 AD) was the brother of Saint Fursey / Fursa and Saint Foillan. He was a member of Saint Fursey’s mission to the kingdom of king Sigeberht in East Anglia in c. 633 AD, and lived there both as a monastic probationary and later alone as an anchorite. In c. 651 AD he accompanied Saint Foillan to Nivelles in Merovingian Gaul where they continued their monastic life together. His Feast Day is 1st May.

Saint Ultan of Ardbraccan succeeded Saint Breccan as Abbot-Bishop of Ardbraccan and is believed to have been Bishop of Meath. He was noted for his beautiful hymns, and for collecting the writings of Saint Brigid of Kildare and illuminating them for his pupil, Saint Brogan Cloen of Rostuirc, Ossory.  Some say he was Saint Brigid’s maternal uncle, and lived for over 180 years. He is said to have been the foster father of Saint Tirechán, whose work was supposedly based on the lost Book of Ultan. The year of his death is disputed. His Feast Day is 4th September.

Saint Virgno – see Saint Fergno

Saint  Vulcanius – see Saint Mochaomhog 

Saint Willibrord (c. 658 – 739 AD), a Northumbrian monk, spent the years between the ages of 20 and 32 training under Saint Egbert 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, now Killogan graveyard near Carlow Town. Like Saint Swithbert, he went on to become known as the “Apostle to the Frisians” in the modern Netherlands. He was the first Bishop of Utrecht, and died at Echternach, Luxembourg, where every year thousands participate in the Dancing Procession held in his honour on Whit Tuesday. His Feast Day is 7th November.


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