St Senan of Inis Cathaigh

Window at St Senan's Church, Moanmore, Kilrush.

St Senan – (c. 488-544)

St Senan was born in the townland of Moylougha which is close to the town of Kilrush. Senan was born around 488AD and his parents were Congella and Ercan and were Christians.

Senan was noted for his piety and the Legends and Lore section of our website has some lovely stories about him. He is said to have studied under a monk who travelled to the area and was named Cassidus. When he had learnt all Cassidus had to teach him, he set off on a quest for knowledge and faith that lasted many years. His first stop was the monastery at Kilnamanagh in Kilkenny and from there, it is said he set out for Rome. However, the place in Europe that he is most connected with is the the great monastery in Tours, set up by St. Martin. Although by the time Senan reached Tours, Martin had died but his teachings and the strict regime at the monastery inspired Senan who spent some time there before returning to Ireland.

He set up a number of monastic cells in Wexford and Cork before returning to his native place and founding a monastery on Inis Cathaigh which the legend says was inhabited by a monster in the form of a serpent (cathaigh). He banished this demon with the help of Michael the Arch Angel and began his work. Senan’s learning and piety was known throughout the country and he is considered one of the twelve apostles of Ireland. So great was his renown in this time that Ciaran of Clonmacnoise and Brendan of Birr visited him there. Senan was known for his austerity and piety and he is said to have banished women from Inis Cathaigh and there is a wonderful story of how Saint Cannera who wished to be buried on Inis Cathaigh argued and won her case with the stern Senan. An audio of the story told by Dr. Rosemary Power is in our People section.

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