Tuesday 16 July 2013

Saint Scoth of Cluain Mór Moescna, July 16

On July 16 the Irish calendars record the name of a holy woman, Scoth, and associate her with a place called Cluain-mór-Moescna. Canon O'Hanlon suggests that this could be the modern Clonmaskill, County Westmeath and raises the possibility that our saint might be the nun of this name mentioned as a relative of Saint Senan of Scattery Island, whose hagiography records that he visited her religious house near Mullingar:

St. Scoth, Virgin, of Cluain-mor-Moescna, probably Clonmaskill, County of Westmeath. 

In the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 16th of July, appears the name Scoth, Cluana moescna. This appears to be identical with Clonmaskill, in the barony of Fertullagh, county of Westmeath . Or it may be Clonmaskill in the parish of Castletowndelvin, and barony of Delvin, in the same county. At an early period after the Anglo-Norman Invasion, Hugh de Lacy built here a castle for his brother-in-law, Sir Gilbert de Nugent, who resided in it for a time, while its ruins now occupy the sides of a quadrangular fort, having had a round tower at each corner. This was anciently the seat of the Barons of Delvin. There is a St. Scota, referred to in the Life of St. Senan, Abbot of Iniscattery. She is called the daughter of Cobhtach, and she is also regarded as his paternal aunt. Her festival is supposed to have fallen on this day. If the identification be correct, she must have been born about or after the middle of the fifth century. Towards the close of his life, St. Senan wished to visit her cell. This must have happened, it seems probable, after the middle of the sixth century. The nunnery of this St. Scoth, or Scota, seems to have been not far from the monastery, which was in the district, known as Irros, in the county of Clare. For an account of the present St. Scota, we are referred by Colgan, to the Martyrologies of Tallagh, of Marianus and of Aengus, at the 18th—probably a mistake for the 16th—of July. Her religious house was situated a few miles northwards from Mullingar. This monastery is supposed to have perished during the Danish wars. The name of this holy woman is entered in the Martyrology of Donegal, at this same date, as Scoth, Virgin, of Cluain Mór Moescna.

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