Old English- St. Colman of Lismore, Bishop- 23 January 2017

St. Colman of Lismore, Bishop


Died c. 702. Saint Colman succeeded Saint Hierlug (Zailug) as abbot-bishop of Lismore in 698. During his rule the fame of Lismore reached its peak (Benedictines).

The Monastery of Lismore

As the School of Armagh in the North of Ireland, and that of Clonmacnoise in the centre, so the School of Lismore was the most celebrated in the South of Ireland. It was founded in the year 635 by St. Carthach the Younger, in a most picturesque site, steeply rising from the southern bank of the Blackwater. Its founder had spent nearly forty years of his monastic life in the monastery of Rahan on the southern borders of ancient Meath, in what is now King’s County. He dearly loved that monastery which he had founded and which he fondly hoped would be the place of his resurrection; but the men of Meath – clerics and chieftains – grew jealous of the great monastery founded in their territory by a stranger from Munster, and they persuaded Prince Blathmac, son of Aedh Slaine, of the southern Hy Mall, to expel the venerable old man from the monastic home which he loved so well. The eviction is described by the Irish annalists as most unjust and cruel, yet, under God’s guidance, it led to the foundation of Lismore on the beautiful margin of what was then called Avonmore, the great river, a site granted to St. Carthach by the prince of the Desii of Waterford.

Lismore was founded in 635; and the founder survived only two years, for he died in 637, but Providence blessed his work, and his monastery grew to be the greatest centre of learning and piety in all the South of Erin. The Rule of St. Carthach is the most notable literary monument which the founder left behind him. It is fortunately still extant in the ancient Gaelic verse in which it was written. It consists of 185 four-lined stanzas, which have been translated by O’Curry – who has no doubt of its authenticity – and is beyond doubt one of the most interesting and important documents of the early Irish Church.

The Rule of Saint Carthage can be found in The Celtic Monk: Rules & Writings of Early Irish Monks Uinseann O’Maidin OCR, pub. Cistercian Studies Series Number 162, 1996. ISBN: 0879076623 (pb) and 0879075627 (hb).

But Lismore produced a still more famous saint and scholar, the great St. Cathaldus of Tarentum. His Irish name was Cathal, and it appears he was born at a place called Rathan, not far from Lismore. Our Irish annals tell us nothing of St. Cathaldus, because he went abroad early in life, but the brothers Morini of his adopted home give us many [particulars]

Source: Celtic and Old English Saints – 23 January