Friday, 28 November 2014

Saints Laidhgenn, Cainneach and Accobran, November 28

November 28 is the feastday of a trio of brothers, Laidhgenn, Cainneach and Accobran, the sons of Bochra. The Martyrology of Oengus and its accompanying gloss record:

28. A chief trio that is not transitory,
with Trophimus the unabating,
Bochra's (three) sons perennial triumph!
from smooth Ached Rathin.

sons of Bochrae, i.e. three brothers from Achad rathin in the Dési of Munster. Bochrae was their mother's name. Laidgenn and Caindech and Aed-cobran their names.


The Martyrology of Gorman records:

The soldiers have been magnified: Bochra's three warlike sons.

to which the gloss has been added:

i.e. Laidcenn, Cainnech and Accobran, from Achad Rathin in Húi meic Caille in Dési of Munster. Bochra is their mother's name.

In an an article on an inscribed ogham stone discovered in County Kerry in 1893, the Anglican antiquary, Bishop Graves, identified the inscription as a request for a prayer for the soul of one Comaign, son of Fitalin. His researches began with the name Fitalin as he explains:

I lost no time in trying to find the name FITALIN in Irish hagiological and historical documents. I looked in vain in the Annals and Martyrologies, and in the different copies of the Sanctilogium Genealogicum. At last, in the treatise De Matribus Sanctorum Hiberniae (ascribed by Colgan and others to Aengus the Culdee), I lighted upon a name, Fidlin, which, as the hard t of the ancient Ogam would be softened into n in the more modern mss., can safely be identified with that which appears in the inscription. This name occurs in two passages of the treatise De Matribus, as given in the Book of Leinster:

(1). Bochra was the mother of the three sons of Fidlin, viz. Laidcend, and Cainnech, and Aedchobran.
(2). Bochra was the mother of the three sons of Irlamain, viz. Fidlin, and Liadnain, and Dulechain.

The Book of Ballymote and Book of Lecan agree with the Book of Leinster as to (2) ; but in (1) they read "Bochra was the mother of the three sons of Bochra," the names of the sons being the same. Laidhgenn, Cainneach, and Accobran, the three sons of Bochra, are commemorated on November 28, in the Martyrologies of Donegal and Tallaght, and by Marianus Gorman. In the Felire, "the sons of Bochra" are celebrated in the text on that day, while the Commentator in the Lebar Breac gives their names as above. They are described as "of Achad Raithin in Ui-mic-Caille in Deisi Mumhan."


Rt.Rev. Dr. Graves, On an Ogham Monument Recently Found in County Kerry in PRIA. 3rd ser: v.3 (1893), 374-379.

Another 19th-century Anglican cleric, Sabine Baring-Gould, was confident that he had identified the last of the three sons of Bochra, Accobran, with a Saint Achebran, patron of Saint Keverne in Cornwall:

Achebran is presumedly the Irish Aed Cobhran, one of the sons of Bochra; and his brothers were Laidcenn and Cainrech. Bochra was the name of the mother. Their father's name is unknown. The three brothers were commemorated as Saints of Achad Raithin in Ily MacGaille, in Waterford. But Aed Cobhran had a special commemoration on January 28, as having a cell under Inis Cathy. He was consequently associated with S. Senan, if he belonged to the period. His cell was not in the island of Inis Cathy, but at Kilrush on the mainland, in Clare. He is there forgotten; there are two old churches in the place, but both are named after S. Senan. This is due to Aed Cobhran not having founded his church, but to his having occupied one belonging to S. Senan.

It is probable that Achebran came to Cornwall along with S. Senan and the party that attended S. Breaca, and that he made his settlement in the Lizard district. Cobhran became Kevern, for the Irish bh is sounded like v. In later times he seems to have been forgotten or mistaken for S. Cieran, from whom he is wholly distinct. If we are not mistaken, he settled permanently in France, where his name was still further corrupted into Abran...

..The day of Aed Cobhran, as already said, in the Irish Martyrologies, is January 28, but he is also commemorated along with his brothers on November 28. In that of Donegal he is mentioned as of Cill-Ruis or Kilrush, in the county of Clare, but he is no longer there remembered. Cill-Ruis was in the diocese of Iniscathy, which seems to indicate, as already mentioned, that he was a disciple of S. Senan, who is the Cornish Sennen. He is commemorated in the Felire of Aengus, and in the Martyrology of Tallagh as well.


S. Baring-Gould and J. Fisher, The Lives of the British Saints: the Saints of Wales and Cornwall and such Irish saints as have dedications in Britain in four volumes. Vol. I. (London, 1907), 106-7.

I was interested to see that Canon O'Hanlon in his entry for Saint Acobran of Kilrush on January 28, makes no mention of a Cornish (much less a French) career for this saint, nor does he identify him with the son of Bochra. A modern scholar of Cornwall's saints, Nicholas Orme, says of Saint Keverne:

Achevran or Achovran (modern Keverne), a male saint, since at least 1086 and probably since at least the 10th century as he occurs in the early list of Cornish saints. He was probably in origin an independent figure, but by 1266 he was equated with the Irish saint Ciarán of Saighir, and by the 15th both were identified also with Piran.

Nicholas Orme, English Church Dedications with a Survey of Cornwall and Devon (Exeter, 1996), 94.

I don't think therefore that we can put much trust in Baring-Gould's thesis that Saint Acobran of Kilrush is to be equated with Acobran, one of the three sons of Bochra and with the Cornish saint Keverne. I haven't been able to discover any further information on him or his brother saints.

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