January 28 is the feast of Saint Acobran of Kilrush, about whom not a great deal appears to be known. We have already met this saint, for in a post on a trio of saintly brothers commemorated on 28 November, I mentioned the contention of the English writer, Sabine Baring-Gould, that one of these brothers, also called Acobran, was to be identified with today's saint. If our Acobran did indeed go off to Cornwall and later on to France as Baring-Gould claims, Canon O'Hanlon knows nothing of it, and it would not be like the good Canon to fail to claim such a career for an otherwise obscure Irish saint. On the contrary, in the Lives of the Irish Saints Acobran is depicted as a shadowy figure whose very location is the subject of doubt, with the Martyrology of Donegal initially identifying him with Kilrush, County Clare but then suggesting in the table appended to the Martyrology that this particular Kilrush is to be found in County Kildare. In the late 1830s when O'Donovan and his co-workers were carrying out their Ordnance Survey work in the parish of Kilrush, County Clare a letter noted 'According to the Irish Calendar the Saints Mellan and Occobran were venerated at Cill Rois in the Termon of Inis Cathaigh on the 28th of January, but neither of them is now remembered in the Parish'. It may be that the cult of the most famous saint of Inis Cathaigh, Saint Senan, overshadowed and eventually displaced that of Saint Acobran. Canon O'Hanlon, as he often does when there is not much to say about a saint, goes into a description of church ruins associated with Saint Senan, but below are the essentials of what he has to tell us of Saint Acobran:
St. Acobran of Kilrush, Probably in the County of Clare.
...Without any other distinction, he is mentioned in the Martyrology of Tallagh, at the 28th of January, But we are not left in doubt regarding his locality, if we depend on the succeeding statement. According to the Martyrology of Donegal, we find Accobhran, of Cill-Ruis, in the Termon of Inis-Cathaigh, as having a festival celebrated on this day. In a table postfixed to this Martyrology, his place is thought to have been Kilrush, in the county of Kildare. He is said to have been otherwise called Occobhran, whence Ocobrus, Ocoras [Desiderius). The place usually designated for this saint is the present Kilrush, a parish in the barony of Moyarta and county of Clare. The present saint, to whatever place he belonged, appears to have lived in or before the eighth century. This is proved from the "Feilire" of St. Aengus the Culdee. With its English translation, Professor O'Looney has furnished the following stanza from the Leabhar Breac copy in the R. I. A.
G. u. kl. With Acobran we celebrate
The passion of eight noble virgins;
They gained a triumph of righteousness,
The great Miserian host.
These latter seem to have been martyrs in Africa, and to have been part of a band, commemorated in St. Jerome's ancient Martyrology....
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