Thursday 3 August 2017

The Daughter(s) of Fachtna, of Ernaidhe

At August 3 we find the names of several female saints commemorated on the Irish calendars, including Saints Trea and Deirbhile. We can add another name to the list, an unnamed 'Daughter of Fachtna', who may have been associated with the locality of Urney in County Tyrone. In his brief account below, Canon O'Hanlon, who begins on a pious note, brings only the details from the Martyrology of Donegal which identifies a single daughter in its entry for the day. The twelfth-century calendarist, Marianus O'Gorman, however, suggests that she may have had siblings. His entry reads:

The festival of Fachtna's modest daughters by whom every false assembly was purified.

Such groups of saints, described as daughters or sons of a named parent, are a feature of the Irish calendars. I suppose the most well-known might be the daughters of Léinín, whose memory lives on in the place name Killiney (Cill Iníon Léinín - the Church of the Daughters of Léinín in County Dublin.   

There is no mention of Fachtna's offspring in the earlier calendars of Oengus or Tallaght. Canon O'Hanlon records:

The Daughter of Fachtna, of Ernaidhe, said to be Urney, in the County of Tyrone.

Fairest and most full of consolation to the perfect religious is that morning, when she consecrates her love to Him, who will jealously demand its faithful observance. We find in the Martyrology of Donegal, that a festival was celebrated to honour the daughter of Fachtna, belonging to Ernaidhe, at the 3rd of August. Another rendering of her name is Facundide, as found at the alphabetical entries in a table superadded to that Martyrology. In William M. Hennessy's copy of the work, that place with which the present saint is represented as having been connected, has been identified as Urney, in the County of Tyrone.

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