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Saint Flannan
(Seventh Century)

In monastic times the Dalcassian tribe, or O`Brien family, were powerful rulers. Brian Boru was descended from this family. Another powerful member of this same family was St. Flannan.

Flannan was the son of Turlough who was King of Thomond. Turlough was a devout man who began his reign in 625 and who retired in his old age to Lismore to become a monk. Flannan lived in the seventh century but little is known about his life and there are various versions of it.

In his youth Flannan was placed under the care of Saint Blathmet who was very learned in Sacred Scripture. Blathmet was renowned as a great teacher and children of the nobility were sent from miles around to study with him.

Flannan then entered Molua`s monastery at KILLALOE. Legend tells us that he worked diligently here. One day, after he had been baking continously for thirty-six hours, a heavenly light shone through the fingers of his left hand. It lit up the darkness to enable him to continue with his task. The Abbot, on learning of this, was so impressed that he decided to retire from his position and he appointed Flannan as Abbot in his place.

His time as Abbot of Killaloe has become legendary, being described as a period when " the fields waved with the richest crops, the sea poured almost on the shore an abundance of large whales and every kind of smaller fish, and the apple trees drooped under the weight of the fruit, woods abounded in acorns and hazel-nuts, the most restless nations were at peace, and the poor of every description experienced open-handed hospitality ".

The people of Thomond agreed that Flannan should become bishop. His nomination required Papal confirmation and so Flannan made a trip to Rome where he received consecration from Pope John. On his homeward journey he travelled through Tuscany and Burgundy. When he arrived back in Killaloe the prelates, the nobles and the general public came to listen to him speak. He had a great reputation as a preacher and it is thought that he travelled widely. There was a church of his at Inishlannaun in Lough Corrib and another on Inishbofin. The Flannan Islands in the Outer Hebrides may be connected to him. However, it is not certain that the Scottish Flannan is the same as the Killaloe Flannan. There is a possibility that there was a second saint called Flannan.

Saint Flannan of Killaloe is said to have performed many remarkable miracles. When he had a presentiment of the approach of death he gathered some special people together. He told them of the importance of observing natural and human justice and asked them to encourage peace among the people of the provinces. He blessed his relatives and died.

After his death stories of this holy man spread throughout the country and crowds came to visit his tomb.

Saint Flannan`s feast day is December 18th. He is patron of the parish of Killaloe. St. Flannan`s Oratory at Killaloe is named, as is the Cathedral, in his honour.





The Coming of Christianity to Clare and the evolution of the Diocese of Killaloe and Kilfenora

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