S. Ciarán


Life
Patron saint of Clonmacnoise, of Saigir in Ossory, and over thirty other early Irish churches; prob. a non-historical figure, and a Christianised version of ancestral deity of the Ciarraige [from ciar, ‘tanned’], settled throughout Ireland, especially in north-east Connacht and South Munster; cult flourished Clonmacnoise and at Saigir, giving rise to biographies in Latin and in Irish;
 
Latin life composed at Saigir adapted to St. Perran, patron of Perranzabuloe in Cornwall; association between Ciarán and tanning also reflected in the legend of the Book of the Dun Cow, supposed to have been written on the hide of a brown cow that followed the saint to Clonmacnoise; his feast celebrated at Clonmacnoise on 9 Sept., at Saigir on 5 March.OCIL

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Works
General studies
  • J. F. Kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland. I: Ecclesiastical (NY 1929), pp.316-7, pp.376-82;
  • Plumer, Vitae, I, 200-33;
  • Plumer, Bethada, I, 103-04pp.;
Modern biographies
  • Whitley Stokes, Lives of Saints from the Book of Lismore (Oxford, 1890) pp.117-34;
  • R. A. S. McAlister, The Latin & Irish Lives of Ciaran [Translations of Christian Literature / Lives of the Celtic Saints, Series V] (London: SPCK [Macmillan] 1921) [extract].
  • Gilbert H. Doble, The Saints of Cornwall 4 (Oxford 1965) pp.3-30;
  • Richard Sharpe, ‘Quattuor Sanctissimi Episcopi; Irish Saints before St. Patrick’, in Stages, Saints and Storytellers, Celtic Studies in honour of Professor James Carney, ed. D. Ó Corráin et al. ed. (Maynooth, 1989) pp.376-99;
  • Richard Sharpe, Medieval Irish Saints Lives (Oxford, 1991) pp.391-92.

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Commentary
R. A. S. McAlister, The Latin & Irish Lives of Ciaran [Translations of Christian Literature / Lives of the Celtic Saints, Series V] (London: SPCK [Macmillan] 1921), Introduction: ‘Of all the saints of Ireland, whose names are recorded in the native Martyrologies, probably there were none who made so deep an impression upon the minds of their fellow-countrymen as did Ciaran [1] of Clonmacnois. He stands, perhaps, second only to Brigit of Kildare in this respect; for Patrick was a foreigner, and Colum Cille accomplished his work and exercised his influence outside the shores of Ireland. / Doubtless much of the importance of Ciaran is reflected back from the outstanding importance of his great foundation - the monastic university, as it is fair to call it, of “Cluain maccu Nois” (in an English setting spelt “Clonmacnois“”), on the shore of the Shannon. But this cannot be the whole explanation of the esteem in which he was held; it must be at least partly due to the memory of his own character and personality.’ (For longer extracts, see RICORSO Library, “Critical Classics > Celtiana” [infra].)