St Flannan is the patron saint of the diocese of Killaloe. This diocese includes large portions of the counties of Clare and North Tipperary; it also includes smaller portions of Offaly, Laois, and Limerick. The diocesan cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul is at Ennis. Portraits of Saints Flannan and Senan accompany those of Sts Peter and Paul in the reredos of the sanctuary. Patrick Duffy summarises some traditions about the saint’s life.
St Molua (554-609)
St Molua was reputed to have been the first abbot and founder of Killaloe. He was born in Ardagh, Co Limerick, where the parish church is called after him. On a visit to Munster, St Comhghall, Abbot of Bangor, found him asleep in a field where he was tending his father’s flocks and recognising the boy’s holiness, took him with him to Bangor. There he studied for the religious life and was ordained a priest. Molua is said to have founded monasteries at his home place Ardagh in Co Limerick, at Killaloe, at Friars’ Island near Ardnacrusha (covered in 1930 by the damming for the hydroelectric scheme), at Cluain Fearta Molua (Kyle, north of Borris-in-Ossory Co Laois) on the Leinster/Munster border near his mother’s home. There is also a Church of St Molua (Church of Ireland) in the Stormont area of east Belfast.
St Flannan succeeds St Molua at Killaloe
St Flannan is said to have been the son of Turlough, King of Thomond, and also Molua’s nephew and first disciple. There is a story that one day, after he had been baking continuously for thirty-six hours, a heavenly light shone through the fingers of his left hand. It lit up the darkness to enable him to continue with his task. Molua, on learning of this, decided to retire from his position and appointed Flannan as abbot in his place.
Catholicireland.net. 2016. Dec 18 – St Flannan (7th century) – Catholicireland.netCatholicireland.net. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.catholicireland.net/saintoftheday/st-flannan/. [Accessed 19 December 2016