One of the problems that adds an extra challenge to the study of the early Irish saints is the fact that so many of them share the same name. In the list below, attributed to the seventeenth-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, by An tAthair Donnchadh Ó Floinn, we can see the problem quite clearly. It is most acute, of course, when attempting to disentangle the myriad saints called Colman, of whom this list gives roughly one hundred and twenty, but the earlier Comainmnigud noem hErenn lists over one hundred more:
I pass over [says John Colgan] very many homonymous saints whose names occur in smaller-number groups than the following; but in our calendars and martyrologies we find that there were 10 saints named Gobban, 11 Lasrian, 12 Brigid and 12 Coeman, and the same number named Diucoll and Maedhog and Otteran; 13 were named Coman and 13 Dimman, 14 Brendan and as many Mochuma, Finnan and Ronan; Conall, Cormac, Diarmaid and Lughaidh - 15 of each name; 16 were named Mochua, 17 Lassair and as many Saran; 18 Ernin, 18 Failbhe, 19 Cummin and the same number Foillan and Sillan; 20 Kieran and 20 Ultan; 22 Killen or Killian; 23 Aedh; 24 Columba or Columban; 25 Senan; 27 Fintan; 28 Aidan; 30 Cronan; and - most surprising of all - of those named Colman there were about hundred and twenty. All of these, though having the same names, since they have different feast-days or belong to different places, or are of different parentage, or for some other reason, can be shown to be distinct persons.
Donnchadh Ó Floinn, 'The Integral Irish Tradition' in The Furrow, Vol. 5, No. 12 (Dec., 1954), 759-760.
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