Thursday 12 November 2015

Saint Sinell of Cleenish, November 12

On November 12 we commemorate Saint Sinell of Cleenish island in County Fermanagh. Saint Sinell was one of the disciples of Saint Finnian of Clonard, 'tutor of the saints of Ireland' and in his turn acted as tutor to the great Saint Columbanus, who will himself be commemorated later this month. The site has recently been subject to excavation and a brief account, along with pictures of the island, can be found here and here. Below is the entry for Cleenish from 18th-century writer Mervyn Archdall's classic account of the monasteries of Ireland. Archdall gives Saint Sinell's feastday as October 16, but it is recorded at 12 November in both the Martyrologies of Marianus O'Gorman and Donegal:

Clinish, An island in Lough-Earn, three miles south of Enniskillen. St Synell, son of Manacus, or Maynacur, was abbot of Cluain Inis about the middle of the sixth century; his feast is held 16th of October. St. Fintan dwelt with this saint upwards of eighteen years. Cleenishe is now a parish church in the diocese of Clogher.

In his expanded and annotated edition of Archdall's text, Bishop P.F. Moran adds:

Clinish now Cleenishe a corruption of the original name Claen-inis, or Cleen-inish, which, as Joyce informs us means “the sloping island." The Martyrology of Donegal has at 12th November — Sinell, son of Mianach (or Moenach), of Claoin-inis, in Loch Eirne. St. Sinell was a disciple of St. Finnian of Clonard, and founded the Monastery of Claein-inis about the year 550. It was here that the great missionary, St. Columbanus, first applied himself to sacred studies; and before he quitted this monastery he composed his Commentary on the Psalms which affords abundant proof that the Greek and Hebrew languages were profoundly studied by the disciples of St. Sinell. Another illustrious ornament of Cleenish was St. Fintan Munnu, who, towards the close of the 6th century, passed sixteen years in the paths of sanctity on this island.

Rt. Rev. P.F. Moran, ed.,M.Archdall, Monasticon Hibernicum, Volume II, (Dublin, 1876), 147.

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