Notes on Homonymous Saints

On this page I plan to bring together my notes on saints who share the same name with details of their feast days. Unless noted otherwise, the lists have been compiled from Canon O'Hanlon's Lives of the Irish Saints and reflect various renderings of the original Irish names.

General Overview Based on Fr John Colgan: 

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 FurrowVol. 5, No. 12 (Dec., 1954), 759-760.

Saint Brigid

Speaking of the many saints, bearing the name of Brigid, in Ireland, we find the following enumeration in Dermod O'Conor's translation of Keating's "History of Ireland:"

"The religious women that were known by the name of Bridget in that kingdom were fourteen, and were those that follow: Bridget, the daughter of Dioma; Bridget, the daughter of Mianaig; Bridget, the daughter of Momhain; Bridget, the daughter of Eana; Bridget, the daughter of Colla; Bridget, the daughter of Eathtair Ard; Bridget, of Inis Bride; Bridget, the daughter of Diamair; Bridget, the daughter of Seannbotha; Bridget, the daughter of Fiadnait; Bridget, the daughter of Hugh; Bridget, the daughter of Luinge; Bridget, the daughter of Fischmaine; Bridget, the daughter of Flainge," book ii., p. 389.

Saint Baithen 

There are many forms of this saint's name, such as Baithan, Boetan, Baoton, Buadan, Boedan, Da Buedoc, Baotan, Baothan, Baothin, Baoitin, Baoithin, Baitan, Bathan, Baithon, and Bothan. It may be questioned, if Beoan and Bean—the names of saints in Ireland and Scotland—be not other forms of it. In like manner, there are various festivals for saints so distinguished: thus, at January 9th, 12th, 14th, and 29th; at February 5th and 19th; at March 1st and 23rd; at May 22nd; at June 9th and 18th; at October 6th, 12th, and 26th; and at December 16th.

Saint Coeman

The name Coeman appears to have been essentially an ecclesiastical one. I do not remember to have met with any instance of its having been borne in ancient times by a layman. On the other hand in Colgan's Trias and Acta Sanctorum we meet with it as the name of different individuals about twenty-four times. It is probable, nay almost certain, that this number might be reduced to about fourteen, which, is that of the Coemans named in the Martyrology of Donegal. Of these the following appear to deserve especial mention:

I. Coeman Brec, better known as Aengus MacNissi, founder of the See of Connor. He died September 3, 514.

II. Coeman of Airtne Coeman (Ardcavan) near Lough Garman (Wexford Harbour), was the son of Talan, son of Cathbad, of the race of the Gregraide, of Loch Techet, and brother of Atracht.

In the Felire on June 12 is commemorated “the pious Coeman,who was named vehement Sanct-lethan." He was so called after a queen with whom he had been in bondage as a little gillie. A curious story is told of his having been carried off from the queen by Bishop Ibair, in spite of her opposition.

The Martyrology of Donegal (June 12) identifies Caomhan of Ard-Caomhan with Sanct-Lethan, and adds that "he had the same mother as Caoimhghin and Natcaeimhe, of Tir-da-ghlas, i.e. Caoimell, daughter of Cennfhionnán, son of Cis, son of Lughaidh. He was of the race of Corb Uloim, son of Fergus, son of Ross, son of Rudhraighe." This would make him brother of St. Kevin of Glendalough. But it may "be doubted whether the brother of St. Kevin, who is said to have died in 617 at the age of 120, could have taken away the monks of Bishop Ibair, who died in 500. Many of the Kerry families, be it observed, were descended from Corb Uloim.

III. Coeman of Killchoeman “in regione Gesill," son of Brecan, King of Britain, and Dina, daughter of the King of the Saxons. In the Martyrology of Donegal (under Dabheog, January 1), he is called "the pilgrim." In the Treatise "De Matribus," he is described as the "pilgrim of Kilchoemain in the region of Geshil, and other places." His father Brecan, Bracan, or Brychan was probably the son of the captain of a band of Irish rovers; his reign is computed to have begun about a.d. 410. There is hopeless confusion as to the names of his children and grandchildren in the Irish and Welsh hagiographical records. The British parentage of this Coeman is noticeable in connection with the name Fitalin. Colgan is disposed to identify him with Coeman the Deacon, and with Mochoemog, commemorated on the same day (November 3) as Coeman of Enachtruim (vi.).

IV. Coeman of Sendomnach, the Deacon. In the Tripartite Life, we read: "Patrick founded at Ardlicce a church, named Sendomnach, and he left there Deacon Coeman"; and in the Book of Armagh, "Diaconus Coimmanus carus Patricio, qui fuit in oecclesia magna Airdlicce." Colgan is disposed to identify him with Coeman the Pilgrim, son of Brecan.

V. Coeman of Kill-Ratha. We are also told in the Tripartite Life, of a man of Patrick's household, Coeman of Cella Rath. Probably this is the same as Coeman of Kill-Riada, Patrick's "Maccoem" (literally, youth: Colgan calls him Cubicularius, chamberlain), spoken of as one of "the twenty-four persons who were in orders with St. Patrick."

All the above belong to the Patrician period. Out of the Coemans of later death, we may select for special notice the two who are commemorated in the Felire.

VI. Coeman of Enach Truim in Leix. He was commemorated on November 3, and is said by Marianus Gorman to have been the brother of St. Caoimhghen of Glendalough, probably on the authority of the commentator on the Felire in the L. Breac. He flourished in the middle of the sixth centurv.

VII. Coeman Brec of Ros-each in Meath. He was of the race of Conaire, son of Mogh Lamha. He died, according to the Four Masters, in 614, and was commemorated on September 14.

[Source: Rt Rev. Dr, Graves, On an Ogam Monument, Recently Found in County Kerry, PRIA, Vol.3 (1893-1896), 374-379.]

Saint Culan

The Martyrologies of Tallaght, of Marianus O'Gorman and of Cathald Maguire, mention saints, bearing this name at the 10th and 30th of June, at the 25th and 29th of July, at the 16th and 25th of September, and at the 29th of October, See Colgan's "Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae," xviii. Februarii, n. i, p. 369. 

Saint Cumman, Virgin

In our Irish Calendars, we find the names of three holy women, named Cumman. One is St. Cumman, virgin, of Daire-inghen- Aillen, whose feast occurs on the 29th of May. Another is Cumman Beg, virgin, of Cill-Cuimne, venerated on the 14th of June. The third is Cumman, or Cumana, venerated at the 6th of July. 

Saint Diarmait

The names of several Diarmits are inscribed on our Calendars. 

1. Diarmait, son of Eochaidh, bishop, at January 6th.
2. Diarmait, bishop, of Inis-Clothrann, at January 10th.
3. Diarmait, priest, at January, 15th.
4. Diarmait, son of Mechar, at January 16th.
5. Diarmait, bishop, at April 24th.
6. Diarmait, bishop, of Disert Diarmada, at June 21st.
7. Diarmait, of Gleann h-Uissin, bishop, at July 8th.
8. Diarmait, son of Luchraid, at September 28th.
9. Diarmait, bishop, at October 12th.
10. Diarmait, bishop, at December 12th.
11. Diarmait, bishop, at December 20th.

Saint Earnan (Ernin, Earnain)

1.St. Ernan, son of Eoghan, at the 1st of January.
2. St. Ernain, of Cluain Deochra, at the 11th of January.
3.St. Ernain, son of Caomhan, same day.
4.St. Ernain of Tegh Ernan, at the 17th of January.
5. St. Ernain, bishop, 26th of January.
6. St. Ernin Cass, of Lethghlinn, at the 23rd of February.
7. St. Ernin, at 28th of February.
8. St. Ernin, bishop, at 12th of April.
9. St. Ernin, at 12th of May.
10. St. Ernain, son of Aedh, at 16th of May.
11. St. Ernin, of Creamhchoill, at the 31st of May.
12. St. Ernin, of Cluain, at the 4th of June.
13. St. Ernin, of Cluain-finn, at the 28th of June.
14. St. Ernin, at the 1st of July.
15. St. Ernin, of Inis-caoin, at the 13th of July.
16. St. Ernin, of Cluain-Railgheach, at the 5th of August.
17. St. Ernain, at the 17th of August.
18. St. Ernin, i.e., Memog, of Rath-noi, at the 18th of August.
19. St. Ernin Ua Briuin, at the 27th September.
20. St. Ernan, of Miodhluachra, at the 26th of October.
21. St. Ernan, at 27th of October.
22. St. Ernin, Abbot of Lethghlinn, at the 12th of November.
23. St. Ernin, son of Dubh, at the 13th of November.-
24. St. Ernin, son of Senach, at the 14th of December.
25. St. Ernin, at the 23rd of December

Saint Ethna

EITHNE (Ethne, Ethnea) appears to have been a common name among the women of Ireland, so that we find it often among the saints and the mothers of the saints (Colgan, Acta SS. 416; Reeves, Adamnan p. lxx.).

(1) Daughter of Bait, Mar. 29. On this day are commemorated in Mart, Doneg, (by Todd and Reeves, 89) “Eithne and Sodhealbh, two daughters of Bait, by the side of Sord Coluim Cille;" the entry in Mart, Tallaght (Kelly, Cal, Tr. 83. p. XX.) is "Ingena Baite, quae nutriebant Christum, Ethne ocus Sodelbia nomina earum." Colgan {Acta SS, 785) gives some account of the two virgins Ethnea and Sodelbia, daughters of Aidh, king of Leinster, and says they flourished about or after the middle of the 6th century, but he thinks that Bait may have been a surname of Cairbre their grandfather (Ib, 416 n.1), or that “daughters of Bait" should be interpreted as “daughters of ardent charity," from the love they bore to Christ, who is said by Cath. Maguire, in his Additions and Scholia to the Feiire of Aengus to have come into their arms in the form of an infant to be embraced and kissed. They and their sister Cumania were daughters of Aidh, son of Oiirbre, king of Leinster; and we read in the Life of St. Maedhog (Jan. 31), bishop of Ferns, how that bishop visited them, and how the ox he brought with him to plough their land, and gave to a leprous woman, had its place supplied by another that daily came up from the sea. No account is given of their own dates, but their grandfather Cairbre, son of Cormac, died A.D. 546 according to the Four Mast. Their chief festival is Mar. 29, but others are appropriated to them. Their abode called Tech-ingen-baithe, or the House of the daughters of Bait or Charity, was near Swords in the barony of Nethercross, co. Dublin, and Killnais, another place where their memory was honoured, seems to have been near the same (Kelly, Cal. Ir. Saints, 108). Lanigan {Eccl. Hist, Ir, ii. c. 14, § 7) affirms only the certainty of their being distinguished by their piety, and of their living in a nunnery, but the history of Ethnea, Sodelbia, and Cumania, and whether such were the names of the holy daughters of king Aidus, or how many were these daughters, is so involved in the obscurity of jarring documents, that I shall do no more than refer to Colgan who treats of them at Mar. 29."

(2) The Fair, daughter of Laeghaire. Colgan (Acta SS. 54-6, 415-6) at Jan. 11, and Feb. 26, has given extracts from the Lives of St Patrick regarding the two daughters of king Laeghaire, named Ethnea the Fair and Fedelmia the Ruddy, who, he thinks, may be commemorated on these days, though in the kalendars there are merely the names, without place or parentage. The story of the two sisters Ethnea and Fedelmia is given at less or greater length in Colgan's Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh liyes of St. Patrick, and is recorded by Tirechan (Book of Armagh, fol. 12 A a). Colgan places it in A.D. 432. King Laeghaire had sent his two daughters to Connaught to be under the charge of two Druids or Magi, named Mael and Caplit. St. Patrick had come to the royal cemetery of Crochan or Cruachan, now Bathcroghan, the very ancient residence of the kings of Connaught in Roscommon. On the side of the fort there was a well called Clebach, and when St. Patrick and his attendants or synod of bishops were assembled there one morning at sunrise, the two virgins came early to the well to wash, and, finding St. Patrick and his companions there, the young maidens thought they were supernatural beings. St. Patrick, however, entered into conversation with them, as related by Tirechan, and the result was that they believed and were baptized; and on their desiring to see the Lord's face, they received the sacrifice of Christ and soon passed in death to see the Unseen. They were buried beside the well of Clebach, and upon them was placed a Ferta, Relec, or sepulchral mound, which became the property of St. Patrick and his successors. The two Druids, their guardians, were also converted by St. Patrick. (Todd, St. Patrick, 451-55; O’Hanlon, Irish Saints, i. 163-71, ii. 716; Skene, Celt Scot ii. 108-9; O’Curry, Lect. Anc, Ir. ii. 201-2.)

(3) Daughter of Cormac or of Manius, virgin, commemorated July 6. The Mart, Tallaght (Kelly, Cal. Ir. SS, p. xxviii.) has on this day "Tri ingena Maine in Airiud-Boinne,i.e. Dermor ocus Etne ocus Cumman," and Mart. Doneg. (by Todd and Reeves, 189) has “Dermor, daughter of Maine, of Airiudh Bainne," also as a separate entry "Ethne, and Cummán." To this last Dr. Todd (Ib. p. 189 n. 2) has appended the note,  “Ethne and Cummán were both virgins and sisters, daughters of Cormac, son of Ailill, of the race of Cathair Mór, king of Ireland {Sanct. Gen., of Lecan).” But Colgan in his note, commenting upon the story, in the Tripartite Life, concerning the chieftain Manius and his wife being converted, and of the latter, when blessed by St. Patrick, bearing "duas proles foemellas," accepts the reading of the Martyrology of Tallaght that there were three daughters, and that July 6 was their feast (Tr. Thaum. 149, c. 2, 184 n.3, 270, col. 1). Cormac, son of Ailill, died A.D. 535, according to the Four Masters. [J. G.]

[Source: W. Smith and H. Wace eds., A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature Sects and Doctrines: being a continuation of ‘The Dictionary of the Bible’, Volume II (Boston, 1880), 65-66.]

Saint Fanchea

The Genealogical Menology of the Irish Saints thus distinguishes their race and paternity.

I. Fanchea, daughter to Ronan Ninnid, &c., of the Eugenian race.

2. Fanchea,  daughter to Crimthann, son to Guarius,  belonging to the race of Leogaire, brother to  the same Eugenius. 

3. Fanchea, daughter to Bleden, son to Lugad, &c., of Cailbad's race. 

4. Fanchea, daughter to Aengus, son to Crimthann, &c., of the same Cailbad's race. Colgan thinks the festival of this last named Fanchea was observed in Munster on the 12th of January.

Saint Lassar

No less than fourteen holy virgins called Lassar, or Lassara, occur in our Calendars.

1. Lassar of Achadh-foda, at January 6th.
2. Lassar, virgin, of Gleann-Medhoin, at February 18th.
3. Lassar, virgin, at March 29th.
4. Lassar, virgin, at April 18th.
5. Lassar, at July 23.
6. Lassar, of Tioprait Ros-Rain, at July 27th.
7. Lassar of Cill-Archalgach, at August 20th.
8. Lassar, of Cluain-mor, at September 15th.
9. Lassar, daughter of Lochan, at September 30th.
10. Lassar, of Achadh-beithe, at November 13th.
11. Lassar, daughter of Fionntan, March 23rd.
12. Lassar, virgin, at May 7th.
13. Lassar, virgin, at May 11th.
14. Lassar, at May 14th.

Saint Loichen

June 12

At the 12th and 20th of January, and 17th of April, there are other saints bearing the name of Loichen.

Saint Lugh/Lughan/Lughaidh

Saints bearing this name are honoured in our Irish calendars, respectively, at January 3rd, May 11th, June 5th, and November 13th. Besides, we find a Lugh venerated at the 16th of June, and a Lughan at the 21st of July. In addition, there are twelve Lughaidhs or Lughaedhs, respectively, venerated at the 31st of January, 12th February, 2nd, 9th, and 24th of March, 17th of |April, 12th of May, 1st of July, 6th of August, 30th of September, 6th of October, and 2nd of November. See table of the "Martyrology of Donegal," as edited by Dr. Todd and Dr. Reeves, pp. 418, 419, 436, 437.

Saint Manchan

The Five Noted Saint Manchans

1. St.Manchain Abbot of Menadrochit (Mundrehid, in the barony of Upper Ossory, Queen's County), who died in the year 652.
2. St. Manchan, of Leth (Lemanaghan, King's County), who died in the year 664.
3. St. Manchin, of Lethglenn (Leighlin, county Carlow), who died in the year 725.
4. St. Manchin, Abbot of Tuaim-grene (Tomgrany, County Clare), who departed in the year 735.
5. St. Manchen, Bishop of Lethglenn (Leighlin, county Carlow), whose death occurred in the year 863.

The Eight Manchans of Saint Oengus the Culdee

These are — Manchan, of Leth; Manchan, of Moethail; Manchan, of Achad tairbh; Manchan, of Eascair; Manchan, of Kill-aird; Manchan, of Kilmanach; Manchan, son of Erc; and Manchan, of Ardtrichim.

The Five Additional Manchans of Colgan

St. Manchan, of Disert Chuilinn ; St.Munchen, of Lismore ; St. Manchen, of Tuain-Grene ; and two Manchens, of Leithglenn.

Saint Saran

We find no less than twelve saints bearing the name of Saran in the Irish Calendars, and of these only six are distinguished by any epithet, applied to them, viz. : at January 8th, Saran of Cuil-creamha; at the 13th, Saran, bishop; at the 20th, Saran; at March 1st, Saran, bishop; at May 15th, Saran of Inis-mor; at July 30th, Saran; at August 1st, Saran of Bennchor; at the 15th, Saran; at September 16th, Saran; at 21st, Saran, son of Tighernan; at 23rd, Saran; and at October 22nd, Saran.

Saint Senach

See at January 10th, February 11th, May 11th, June 22nd, August 21st, September 10th, November 2nd and 10th.

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Unknown said...

Hi Marcella, Re St. Davog, You might want to point out that Ireland has two famous Lough Derg's. The one in Tipp/Galway and this one in Co. Donegal. I can get them confused.


Marcella said...

Thanks, I will insert Co Donegal after Lough Derg in the St Davog post to clarify. I suppose I thought it was clear from the context of the pilgrimage that is was St Patrick's Purgatory at the Co Donegal Lough I was referring to. You will have to forgive me but I am a Nordie myself and Lough Derg automatically equates to Co Donegal for me!