Saturday 30 May 2015

Saint Gobban of Airdne Dairinse, May 30

May 30 is the commemoration of Saint Gobban of Airdne Dairinse. Canon O'Hanlon's account of this saint is mostly taken up with an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to identify the location where he flourished:

St. Goban, or Gobban, of Airdne Dairinse.

In the Martyrology of Tallagh, this name is set down as, Goban Airdni Dairinsi, at this date. The Bollandists, quoting from the same authority, have Gobanus de Ara-Dar-Inis, at the 30th of May. This saint is said to have had another festival, at the 26th of March, when a notice of St. Gobban may be seen. Colgan also infers, that he must have been very distinguished for his piety and mental endowments, since he had a double festival instituted in his honour. Whatever can be known regarding him seems more or less involved in obscurity. However, attempts have been made, to clear away the mist, which has so long covered this saint's Acts. It is not known, whether he governed the Island of Molana, in the River Blackwater of Munster, and in the county of Waterford, or whether he ruled over an Island, in the present Wexford Harbour. Both places formerly went by the name of Darinis. Some writers say, this saint was abbot of Airdne, one of the Aran Isles, off the coast of Galway, and in several Martyrologies, we are told, he is styled Abbas Ardnensis. The common name of the three Islands was Ara, which in the nominative is Airne, or Arann in the genitive, according to the Irish. Wherefore, Father John Colgan thought Airne to have been a distinct name for one of these Islands. It is another mistake of his to write, that Ard-Olen was the same as that Island; for, Ard-Olen lies, as elsewhere he has properly stated, in another place. Neither is the most eastern the chiefest of the three Isles of Aran, as he took it to be, but rather it is the smallest. It is probable, that he was led into the mistake, by some incorrect map, in which these Islands were either misplaced, or their position was reversed. Before Colgan's time, the Maps of Ireland were grossly inaccurate. In some of them this East Island of Aran is set down as the largest. In others, the greatest size is claimed for the Middle Island. There are many places, in Ireland, called Airdne by our ancient writers; and, in modern phraseology, that denomination has been rendered into Urney or Nurney. One of those places, called Nurney, gives name to a townland and parish, in the present Barony of West Offaly, county of Kildare; and here, there are some ruins of an old church in a cemetery. In the same county, there is another parish of Nurney, in the Barony of Carbury. There is a parish called Nurney, likewise, in the Baronies of Carlow, Forth, and Idrone West, county of Carlow. However, it is not certain, that St. Goban or Gobban had connexion with any of these places. We find entered, likewise, in the Martyrology of Donegal, that Gobban, abbot of Airdne, was venerated, on this day.

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