Sunday 9 February 2014

Saint Colman of Clonard, February 9

On February 9 Canon O'Hanlon brings us an entry on one of the many saints named Colman recorded in the Irish calendars. As with most of these homonymous saints, nothing is really certain about the life of Saint Colman of Clonard. The place name Clonard is most famously associated with the County Meath monastic foundation of Saint Finnian, but it is far from being the only locality with this name. It seems though that some of the sources depict our saint as the nephew of Saint Finnian, and the connection is further strengthened by the linking of this saint by the seventeenth-century antiquary, Sir James Ware, to an abbot of Clonard whose death in the year 700 was recorded by the Irish Annals:

St. Colman, of Cluain Eraird, or Clonard, County of Meath.

[Possibly in the Seventh Century]

A stranger, viewing the towers, abbeys and monasteries, dispersed throughout the county of Meath, would be inclined to exclaim, "This was the land of saints, indeed!"  The present holy man is styled Mocolmoc, Cluana Iraird, in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 9th of February. If what follows be correct, he must have been a nephew to the celebrated founder of Clonard, in the ancient territory of Meath; for, we are told, that Rioghnach, sister of Finnen, of Cluain Eraird was his mother. Her parents, therefore, seem to have been Fintan, descended from the family of Loschain, and her mother's name was Talech. The present St. Colman must have lived, in that case, in the sixth century. According to the published Martyrology of Donegal, on this day was venerated, Colman, of Cluain Eraird. In Harris' Ware, we read, that a Colman O'Heir died, on the 9th of February, A.D. 700.  I cannot find the  authority, for placing his death on the present date of the month; but, our Annals concur in stating, that Colman-Ua-hEire died Abbot of Clonard, in the year 700. It is possible, he may be identified, with the present St. Colman.

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