Friday 5 August 2022

Saint Earnán of Cloonrallagh, August 5

On August 5/6  the Irish calendars record the feast of Saint Earnán (Eirne, Eirnín) of Cloonrallagh. He is yet another of those Irish saints whose names are preserved along with the date of their feast days, but about whom no other details survive. The name Earnán is shared by a number of Irish saints which does not make the task of identifying the specific individual commemorated today any easier. Canon O'Hanlon in Volume VIII of his Lives of the Irish Saints seeks to associate him with Saint Colum Cille and the Columban family of County Meath:
Article IV. — St. Erne, or Ernin, of Cluana Railgech or Cluain railgheach, probably in the County of Meath.

The Martyrology of Tallagh registers Erne, of Cluana Railgech, at the 6th of August. This place bore also the denomination of Druim Relgrach, and it was situated in the territory of ancient Meath. Marianus O'Gorman furnishes an authority for this statement. This saint assisted at the great synod of Dromceat, held A.D. 580. By one writer we are informed, that St. Ernin was Abbot of Cluain Reilgeach or Druim Reilgeach, in the time of St. Columb, and that he was honoured there on the 5th day of August. This writer, treating of the religious establishments in Westmeath, yet places Cluain Reilgeach or Druim Reilgeach, in Kianechta, a territory of ancient Meath; but, he adds, that the place was probably in Meath, although now unknown. A certain Cruimther Collait is mentioned as having been from Druim Roilgech, as being one of the learned in Erinn, and as being a writer, among others, of St. Patrick's miracles.  The Rev. Dr. Lanigan also alludes to the same Collatus, a priest of Druim-relgeach in Meath; but, no more particular identification of the place is given by him. This monastery, as we are told, was situated in ancient Meath. Probably it was in the neighbourhood of Duleek. Such is the identification of Rev. Anthony Cogan, diocesan ecclesiastical historian. The present saint is commemorated by Cathal Maguire and by Marianus O'Gorman. We find it recorded, likewise, in the Martyrology of Donegal, at the 5th of August, that veneration was given to Ernin of Cluain Railgheach.

Pádraig Ó Riain's 2011 Dictionary of Irish Saints mentions the genealogical sources linking him to Fearghas Caochán, brother of Niall of the Nine Hostages, whose descendants are linked to the church of Kilskeer, near Kells. He also suggests Cloonrallagh may be in County Longford or in County Westmeath.


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