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Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839

Parish of Kilfenora (d)

Lanigan’s Ecc Hist. Kilfenora.

This Saint must not, I think, be confounded with the Saint Fachnan to whose memory the Church of Kilfenora has been dedicated. He is said, but without any foundation, to have been succeeded at Ross by a Saint Finchara.

The history of the See of Kilfenora or, as Ware calls it, Fenabore, is so obscure that he was not able to decide by whom it was founded. In one place (Antiq. cap. 29) he says “it may be judged that Saint Fachnan was the founder.” In another (Bishops) he merely states that its Cathedral was dedicated to his memory. He clearly seems to have met Saint Fachnan of Ross. And so the matter appears to be understood at present in the Diocese of Kilfenora, whereas the festival of the Patron Saint is kept there on the 14th of August, as if Saint Fachnan of Ross was he also of Kilfenora. But it is much more probable that they were different persons. That Fachnan of Ross did not found that See, or even a Monastery there, is evident from its not being mentioned in the Calendars where treating of him, notwithstanding the care taken to omit that, besides Ross, he had governed also a house in Darinis. Why not mention likewise Kilfenora had he been there? Especially as it became an Episcopal See. It may be said that Fachnan was revered there, not as founder of the See, but as the Saint in whose name the Church was dedicated, long perhaps before there was any Bishop of Kilfenora; yet, I can hardly believe that Kilfenora had not a Fachnan or Fachtna of its own.

Among the real or pretended Disciples of Saint Barr we find, besides Fachnan of Ross, a Saint Fachna de Ria (AA. SS. p.750). He is the Fachtnanus of Usher (Ph. p.971) a distinct person from Fachtna Mongich, or of Ross, there mentioned. Whether this Fachna or Fachnan de Ria was a scholar or not of Saint Barr, is of little consequence; but it cannot be doubted that such a person did exist in old times, probably in the seventh century. Why may we not suppose that he was the founder of Kilfenora? Its very name seems to lead to this conclusion. Fachnan is often called Fechnan. Kilfenora is a compound name, thus probably formed: Kil-fen (a contraction of Fachnan) ode, or from - Ra or Ria. - Vol.11. p.194.