• on 11th October, 2021

Feast of Saint Canice (Cainnech of Aghaboe): 11th October 2021

Cainnech of Aghaboe (515/16–600), also known as Saint Canice in IrelandSaint Kenneth in ScotlandSaint Kenny and in Latin Sanctus Canicus, was an Irish abbot, monastic founder, priest and missionary during the early medieval period. Cainnech is one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland[1] and preached Christianity across Ireland and to the Picts in Scotland.[2] He wrote a commentary on the Gospels, which for centuries was known as the Glas-Choinnigh or Kenneth’s Lock or the Chain of Cainnech.[3]

Most of what is written about Cainnech’s life is based on tradition, however he was considered a man of virtue, great eloquence and learning. His feast day is commemorated on 11 October in the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church according to their respective calendars (Gregorian or Church Julian) with additional feast days on 1st or 14 August in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Cainnech was born in 515 or 516, at Glengiven, near Dungiven in Ulster, the northern province in Ireland.[5] His full name was Cainnech moccu Dalánn.[6]

Cainnech’s father Lughadh Leithdhearg was descended from the CorcoDalann or Ui Dalainn, a tribe whose ancestor, Dalann, is traced back to Fergus (King of Ulster), son of Ross, son of Rudhraighe. The Corco-Dalann were from an island referred to as “Insula Nuligi”, and is usually identified with Inis-Doimhle or Inis-Uladh, which is now the Little Island, in the River Suir, south-east of Waterford.[3]

Lughadh was a distinguished bard, a highly trained, professional itinerant poet. Lughadh settled at Glengiven, in what is now County Londonderry. Lughadh ended up under the favour and protection of the chief of Cianachta, and became the tutor of the chieftain’s son, Geal Breagach.[7]

Cainnech’s mother was called Maul or Mella.[8] She attained an eminent degree of sanctity. The church of Thompleamoul or Capella Sanctae Maulae seu Mellae, beside Kilkenny city, was dedicated to God under her invocation.

By courtesy of Wikipedia;


Although many Irish counties have a number of cathedrals – Cork has five and Galway has six – Laois, Leitrim, Louth and Wicklow are the only counties in Ireland without working cathedrals. But Louth has Saint Patrick’s in Dundalk which is known as a pro-cathedral, and Wicklow has the cathedral and monastic ruins at Glendalough.

So, on the way from Kilkenny to Limerick last week, two of us stopped at the monastic ruins at Agahboe Abbey, once one of the most important abbeys and priories in Co Laois, and for a brief few years the cathedral of the Diocese of Ossory.

Saint Canice founded an abbey at Aghaboe around 576 or 577. It was in the Kingdom of Ossory whose first king, Óengus Osrithe, lived in the second century. In his Vita Sancti Columbae (Life of Saint Columba), Adomnán refers to the abbey, saying that its name means ‘a little field of the cow.’

In time, the abbey at Aghaboe developed into a major centre of learning, commerce and agriculture. Monks from the abbey included Saint Virgilius (Feargal), who was Abbot of Aghaboe before he left Ireland and built the first cathedral in Salzburg in the eighth century. He was canonised in 1233.

The Annals of Inisfallen note that ‘Scandlán, grandson of Tadc, abbot of Achad Bó,’ died in year 782.

Aghaboe was plundered by the Vikings in 913 and rebuilt in 1052, when the relics of Saint Canice were enshrined in the abbey.

The monks of Aghaboe founded a second house in Kilkenny, the capital of Ossory. When the Synod of Rathbreasail first divided Ireland into territorial dioceses in 1111, both Aghaboe and Kilkenny were included in the Diocese of Ossory, with the bishop’s seat in Kilkenny, where the church became Saint Canice’s Cathedral.

By courtesy of Patrick Coerford’s Blog;



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