Home  »  Volume XI: November  »  St. Cianan, or Kenan, Bishop of Duleek, in Ireland

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

November 24

St. Cianan, or Kenan, Bishop of Duleek, in Ireland

ACCORDING to his Acts quoted by Usher, he was a pupil of the religious man, Nathan; and, when a youth, was one of the fifty hostages whom the princes of Ireland gave to King Leogair, by whom he was set free at the intercession of Bishop Kiaran. He then went into France, and passed some time with great fervour at Tours, in the monastery of St. Martin. Returning to his native country, he converted great numbers to Christianity in Connaught. Thence he proceeded to Leinster, and founded a church in a place called to this day The wood of Cianan. At length he went into the territory of Owen (that is, Tir-oen), so called from King Owen, whose niece, Ethne, was St. Cianan’s mother. There he broke down an idol with an altar that was dedicated to it, and on the place built a Christian church. In the office of St. Cianan, extant in MS. in the library at Cambridge, it is said that the saint built here a church of stone, on that account called Damliag, 1 corrupted into Duleek. St. Cianan was descended from the royal blood of the kings of Munster. He died on the 24th of November, in 489. Duleek having suffered greatly by several fires and devastations of the Danes, its episcopal see was united to Meath. See Usher, Antiq. l. 29, and Primord. p. 1070. Ind. Chron. ad. ann. 450; Ware’s Bishops, p. 137; and on St. Ultan, 4 Sept. p. 39.  1
Note 1. Dam, in the old Irish, signifies a house, and liag a stone. Those writers must surely be mistaken, who imagine there was no other stone church in Ireland before the time of St. Malachy in the twelfth century: for the Irish annals mention many Damliags erected in that kingdom from age to age, down from the days of St. Cianan to those of St. Malachy. [back]