Friday 5 December 2014

Saint Colmán ua hEirc, December 5

We can add Saint Colmán ua hEirc to the long list of Irish saints of this name with a commemoration found on the Irish calendars at December 5. This Saint Colmán is associated with the great Saint Erc of Slane as the Martyrology of Gorman makes clear in its entry for the day:

5. c.

Colman ua hEirc oebgel

which is translated as 'beautiful, bright Colman, Erc's descendant.'

The Martyrology of Donegal simply records the name Colman Ua h-Eirc at this date. It is possible, since the abbatial succession in Irish monasteries was often kept within families, that our saint could be an actual as well as a spiritual successor to Saint Erc of Slane. In a compendium of entries relating to Slane taken from the various Irish annals the Meath diocesan historian, Father Cogan, records more than one successor to Saint Erc who bore this name including: 

746. Colman of the Britons, Abbot of Slane, died.

823. Colman, son of Oiliolla, Abbot of Slane, and also of other churches in France and Ireland, died.

838. Colman, Abbot of Slane, died.

946. Colman, airchinneach of Slane, was slain by the foreigners.

Rev. A. Cogan, The Diocese of Meath - Ancient and Modern, Volume I. (Dublin, 1862), 63.

I cannot, of course, equate any of these individuals with the saint Colmán ua hEirc, commemorated on December 5.

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