Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Saint Flann of Finglas, January 21

January 21 is the commemoration of a County Dublin saint, Flann, Bishop of Finglas. Canon O'Hanlon tells us what is known of him:

Flann Mac Laich, or Mac Lughdach, Bishop of Finglas, County of Dublin

A considerable share of misunderstanding has prevailed—while even distinguished Irish historians and topographers appear to have fallen into errors —in reference to the special Patron Saint of Finglas. The original name of this village seems to have been derived from the small, rapid, and tortuous "bright stream" that runs through a sort of ravine, beside the present cemetery. Towards the close of the eighth, or in the beginning of the ninth century—as we find in the "Feilire Aengusa" — this place had been denominated Finnghlais-Cainnigh, after some earlier patron, called Cainnigh or Canice. He is generally thought to have been the patron saint of Ossory, as no other one bearing such a name can be found in connection with this spot. Whether or not a monastery had been founded by Cainneach, while under the tuition of Mobhi Clairenech, abbot, of Glasnevin, and who died in 544, can scarcely be determined. It seems probable, at least, that a cell, or monastic institute, had been here erected by St. Canice before the close of the sixth century. Archdall evidently confounds this saint with a Kenicus or Keny, whose feast is assumed to have been on the 12th of October. The life of this saint had been preserved in the church of Finglas. How long after his time the present holy man lived does not appear to be known. However, a monastic institution, and an ancient bishop's see, seem to have distinguished Finglas, in the early part of the eighth century. We read in the Martyrology of Donegal how Flann, bishop, of Finnghlais, had a festival on this day. In the table superadded to this work, the commentator interprets his name Flann, as meaning "red" or "crimson." He is entered in the published Martyrology of Tallaght on the 21st of January, under the designation of Flann mac Lughdach, abbot, of Finnglaise. The Franciscan copy, however, calls him "the son of Laich." The present village of Finglas, near Dublin city, and to the north of it, has the ruins of an ancient—but not its oldest—church, within an enclosed graveyard of very great antiquity. The parish of Finglas is situated partly in the barony of Castleknock and partly in that of Nethercross. Under the head of Finnglais, Duald Mac Firbis enters Flann, bishop, of Finnglais. January the 21st is also set down for his feast.

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