Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Saint Caencomhrac of Inchenagh, July 23


23 July is the feastday of a 10th-century holy man who, like many other of the saints, struggled to reconcile the demands of ecclesiastical office with the desire to pursue an eremitical life. Canon O'Hanlon tells us what is known of Saint Caencomhrac:

ST. CAIN COMRAC OR CAENCOMHRAC, BISHOP AND ABBOT OF LOUTH, AND SOLITARY ON INIS ENDAIMIH, NOW INCHENAGH OR INISHENAGH, LOUGH REE.

The Martyrology of Tallagh, registers a festival in honour of Cain Comrac, Innsi Oendaimh, at the 23rd of July. Whether, as written, there be a composite meaning attaching to the present proper name, or whether it be a simple denomination, we cannot determine. He was born, most probably, in the beginning of the ninth century. This holy man, however, belonged to the Muinter Degha race, according to the O'Clerys. However, in the Annals of the Four Masters, we are informed, that this same Caenchomrac was Bishop and Abbot of Lughmhadh— now Louth—the tutor of Aenegan, son to Eigeartach, and also of Dunadhach, son of Eigeartach, from whom are descended the Ui-Cuinn na mBocht. This account seems to agree with that in the Annals of Ulster and in the Chronicum Scotorum. We may therefore doubt, if Caencomhrac had been bishop, at Cluain-mic-Nois, in the first instance, as we are informed. At what time such an event took place does not appear from any entry in our Irish Annals, so that we are inclined to believe the O'Clerys have been mistaken in their statement. As we are informed by them, Caencomhrac left Cluain, in consequence of the veneration in which he was held there; for, the neighbouring inhabitants reverenced him as a prophet. Then, he went to seek solitude on an Island, at the head of Loch Ribh. This Island of Inse Oendaimh is now known as Inchenagh, or Inishenagh. It is near Lanesborough, in the parish of Rathcline, and in the county of Longford...

The present holy man departed this life, on the 23rd day of July, A.D. 898, according to the "Annals of the Four Masters; in the year 902, according to those of Ulster; and at A.D. 903, according to the "Chronicum Scotorum." The Martyrology of Donegal, at this same day, records Caencomhrac, Bishop, of Inis Endaimh, in Loch Ribh. Under the head of Inis-Eundaimh, Duald Mac Firbis enters, likewise, Caoncomrac, bishop, at July 23rd. The foregoing are the few particulars that can be recorded, in reference to the position and career of this holy bishop and solitary.

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