Thursday, 29 May 2014

Saint Cummain of Dal Buinne, May 29

May 29 is the feast of a female saint Commain, daughter of Aillen, who seems to have flourished in the County Down parish of Ballyphilip, as Canon O'Hanlon explains:

St. Commain, Virgin, of Dal-Buinne, and of Derry, Parish of Ballyphillip, County of Down.

In the "Felire" of St. Aengus, at the 29th of May, a festival is entered for Cummain, who is characterized as "the pure and good." In the "Leabhar Breac" copy, the following stanza appears, with its translation, by Dr Whitley Stokes:

—" May Pollio's great host convey us to the star-heaven,
with Cummain the pure and good,
daughter of lovable Aillen."—

From the way, in which this holy virgin's name has been noticed in a stanza of that metrical Calendar, we infer, she was a daughter of Aillen, or Allen. In the Martyrology of Tallagh, at this date, the entry is, Cumne, Virgin, i. Ingen Alleain, in Aird Ulladh. The Bollandists notice her, at the 29th of May, as Cumania, filia Alleani in Ardvladh, while quoting the same authority. She descended from the race of Fiatach Finn —head of the Dal-Fiatach and monarch of Erin—in this wise. Her father Aillen was son of Baedan, son to Echaid, son of Brian, son to Enna, son of Cathbu, son of Echaid Gunnat, son of Fiacc of Dal Fiatach. In another place, she seems to have been connected with a church, in the territory of Dal-m-Buinne—in Latin Dalmunia—but the exact site is now unknown. To it, allusion appears to be made, in the "Felire" of Aengus, at the 29th of May. An alternative conjecture of a commentator seems to be, that a Cill Ingen Aillen, in Idrone territory, county of Carlow, may have been her place. The church of Cumain, as we are told, lay in the Ards of Ulster. Her place has been identified with Derry, "an oak wood," and a townland in the parish of Ballyphillip, County of Down. The surface of that parish forms a chief part of what is called Little Ardes, and it lies between the neck or sound of Lough Strangford and the Irish Sea...Here, the virgin's feast was formerly kept, as a gloss on the Martyrology of Aengus states...Also, on this day, veneration was given, as we read in the Martyrology of Donegal, to Commain, Virgin, of Daire-inghen-Allen, in Uladh.

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