Tuesday 1 July 2014

St. Ailill of Cloonown, July 1

July 1 is the commemoration of a County Roscommon saint, Ailill of Cloonown. It seems, to judge from Canon O'Hanlon's account below, that the earliest of the Irish calendars, the Martyrology of Tallaght, recorded that this holy man was the Bishop of Cluana Emain, or Cloonown. Later calendars however sought to associate him with the see of Armagh and with the second Archbishop of this name. Canon O'Hanlon is not convinced by the Armagh connection, but brings us the details anyway:

St. Ailill of Cloonown, County of Roscommon, thought to gave been second Archbishop of Armagh.

In the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 1st of July, we find the entry Ailella, Bishop of Cluana Emain. The name Cluana Emain—where seven bishops were venerated—has been identified with Cloonowen, or Cloonown, an old church situated on the River Shannon, and not far removed from Athlone. It lies to the south-east of this town,  and it is within the county of Roscommon. There seems to have been an error admitted, in deeming him to have been an Archbishop of Armagh, and the second of this same name. However, the Martyrology of Tamhlacht calls him bishop of Cluain Emain, but without any mention of Armagh, as elsewhere found. Marianus O'Gorman simply names him; but, the gloss adds, Epscop Arda Macha. He is not mentioned in the Feilire of Aengus, nor in the Dublin copy of the Scholia. The present saint is said to have succeeded his namesake Ailill or Ailild I., in the See of Armagh. He died in the year 526, on the 13th day of January, and this holy man, the second of his name in that primatical See, is thought to have been elected, soon after the chair had been vacated. Ailill II. sprung from the same family as his namesake and predecessor. While the Bollandists enter the name of Alellus or Alildus II., Archbishop of Armagh, at this date, on the authority of Colgan; they declare, likewise, that they know not from what authority he has been entered on the Catalogue of Saints, and they defer to a supplement, at the 13th day of January, any further notices regarding him. We read, that Ailill II. ruled for ten years over the Irish Church, and he died on the 1st of July, according to Marianus O'Gorman, and other Martyrologists, A.D. 535, but according to other chronologists, in the year 536. At this same date, the Martyrology of Donegal  records him as Ailill, Bishop, of Ard Macha. Some words within brackets are added in a more recent hand, [i.e. Elias, according to the corresponding synonyme, at Rathbuanae."] Where this place was situated, we have no means for determining.

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