Monday 20 May 2013

Saint Conall of Iniscaoil, May 20

May 20 was established by the great 17th-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, as the feastday of a saintly abbot from County Donegal, Conall of Iniscaoil. As Canon O'Hanlon, however, explains below, some confusion entered in due to the fact that there is also a festival recorded on May 22. What particularly interested me, however, was his noting of the continuation of the native ascetic tradition, as the local people fasted on the eve of their saint's feast in Colgan's day:

St. Conall, Abbot of Iniscaoil, County of Donegal.

The present holy Abbot seems to have had a double festival, within this month. The Bollandists notice Conallus of Iniscail, at this day, for which they quote Colgan, who incorrectly places his feast at the 12th of May —possibly a typographical error for the 22nd. This St. Conall was son to Mann Coelius, son of Caither, son to Ennius, surnamed Bagan, the son of Conall Gubhan, according to the " Sanctilogium Genealogicum." He was reverenced in the church of Iniscaoil, in the county of Tyrconnell, on the 20th of May. At present, the fertile Island there gives name to the large parish of lnishkeel, in the baronies of Banagh and Boylagh, and county of Donegal. It contains about eighty green acres and, its old church was built on a rocky ledge, not far from the mainland. A beautiful velvety soft strand stretches from it, towards the shore; and, from this latter, at low tides, the Island can be reached on foot. It is a lonely and an uninhabited spot. It may be doubted, if the present saint were identical with St. Conald Coel, Abbot on the same Island, and whose festival, with some biographical notices, has been set down, for the 22nd of this month. If so, however, additional particulars regarding him will be found, at that date. On the vigil of their patron's festival, the people of Iniscoel neighbourhood were accustomed to observe a rigid fast, even to the time of Colgan. This writer tells us, that St. Conall was Abbot of Inis-caoil. Father John Colgan intended, also, to have given the acts of this saint, at the 20th of May.

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