Saturday 31 August 2013

Saint Sessan of Ath-omna, August 31

We bring the month of August to a close with the feast of a saint who Canon O'Hanlon seeks to place in Portumna, County Galway. Actual details of the life of Saint Sessan are thin on the ground and the entry in the Lives of the Irish Saints instead concentrates on a later Dominican foundation at Portumna. I have omitted these details to concentrate on what Canon O'Hanlon can tell us of the saint:

St. Senan, Sessan, or Sessen, of Ath-omna, possibly Portumna, County of Galway.

A feast for St. Senan of Atha-omna occurs in the published Martyrology of Tallagh, on this day, as also in that copy to be found in the Book of Leinster. Ath-Omna means the "Ford of the Oak;" and it may have been the ancient denomination of Port-Omna, now Portumna, on the River Shannon, in the Barony of Longford and County of Galway. It is within the parish of Lickmolassy. The place is of great antiquity, and a town is said to have been there for many centuries before Ireland became subject to the control of the sister kingdom. It is probable there had been a religious establishment at Portumna previous to the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in Ireland. It was a place of no small importance in former times, as being the principal pass whereby the people of Minister and Connaught communicated with each other...The present Saint probably lived at an early period of the Christian Church in Ireland. He is classed among the disciples of holy Patrick, the Irish Apostle. Although called Seseneus, his right name is Sessenus. His feast is set down, at this date, and he is called Sesan by Marianus O'Gorman. It is thought, by Colgan, that he may not have been a different person from St. Sezin, Bishop and Abbot, as also Patron of the Church and Parish of Guic Sezni, Leon, in Brittany. We fail, however, to find the evidence, which might warrant such a supposition. The name Sessan, of Ath-omna, is registered in the Martyrology of Donegal, at the 31st of August. This is all known concerning him.

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