Gobnait

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Saint Gobnait
Saint Gobnait.jpg
Saint Gobnait
Bornfl 6th century
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast 11 February
Patronage bees

Saint Gobnait (fl. 6th century?), also known as Gobnat or Mo Gobnat or Abigail or Deborah, is the name of a medieval, female Irish saint whose church was Móin Mór, later Bairnech, in the village of Ballyvourney (Irish : Baile Bhuirne), County Cork in Ireland. [1] She was associated with the Múscraige and her church and nunnery lay on the borders between the Múscraige Mittine and Eóganacht Locha Léin. [1] Her feast day is 11 February.

Irish language Goidelic language spoken in Ireland and by Irish people

Irish is a Goidelic language of the Celtic and Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of non-habitual speakers across the country.

County Cork County in the Republic of Ireland

County Cork is a county in Ireland. It is the largest and southernmost county of Ireland, situated in the province of Munster and named after the city of Cork, Ireland's second-largest city. The Cork County Council is the local authority for the county. Its largest market towns are Mallow, Macroom, Midleton, and Skibbereen. In 2016, the county's population was 542,868, making it the third-most populous county in Ireland. Notable Corkonians include Michael Collins, Jack Lynch, and Sonia O'Sullivan.

The Múscraighe were an important Érainn people of Munster, descending from Cairpre Músc, son of Conaire Cóem, a High King of Ireland. Closely related were the Corcu Duibne, Corcu Baiscind, both of Munster, and also the Dál Riata of Ulster and Scotland, all being referred to as the Síl Conairi in Irish and Scottish legends. A more distant ancestor was the legendary monarch Conaire Mór, son of Eterscél, son of Íar, son of Dedu mac Sin.

Contents

Sources

No hagiographical Life is known to have described her life and miracles, but she appears in the Life of her senior companion St Abbán moccu Corbmaic, [1] written in the early 13th century but known only through later recensions. Saint Finbarr's Life implies that Gobnait's church belonged to Finbarr's foundation at Cork by alleging that it was not founded by her, but by one of his disciples. [1] In spite of this, Gobnait's cult continued to thrive here and the ruins of a medieval church dedicated to her are still visible today. [1]

Abbán saint

Abbán moccu Corbmaic, also Eibbán or Moabba, is a saint in Irish tradition. He was associated, first and foremost, with Mag Arnaide and with Cell Abbáin. His cult was, however, also connected to other churches elsewhere in Ireland, notably that of his alleged sister Gobnait.

The Félire Óengusso and the Martyrology of Donegal give her feast-day on 11 February. [1]

"Mo Gobnat from Muscraige Mitaine, i.e. a sharp-beaked nun,
Ernaide is the name of the place in which she is.
Or Gobnat of Bairnech in Món Mór in the south of Ireland,
and of the race of Conaire she is; a virgin of Conaire's race"
Note to the Félire Óengusso, tr. Whitley Stokes, p. 73

Life

Gobnait was born in County Clare in the 5th or 6th Century, and is said to have been the sister of Saint Abban. She fled a family feud, taking refuge in Inis Óir in the Aran Islands. [2] Here an angel appeared and told her that this was "not the place of her resurrection" and that she should look for a place where she would find nine white deer grazing. She found the deer at the place now known as St. Gobnet's Wood. Saint Abban is said to have worked with her on the foundation of the convent and to have placed Saint Gobnait over it as abbess.

St Gobnet's Wood is a protected area of oak woodland at Baile Bhuirne, County Cork, Ireland. It is on the north-east side of a hill immediately south of the village. Along with Cascade Wood it is included in a fragmented Special Area of Conservation.

Celtic lore held bees in high esteem, believing the soul left the body as a bee or a butterfly. Gobnait is said to have added beekeeping to her life's work, developing a lifelong affinity with them. She started a religious order and dedicated her days to helping the sick. It has been speculated that she used honey as a healing aid. [3] She is credited with saving the people at Ballyvourney from the plague. [2]

Legends

Harry Clarke's design drawing for the Saint Gobnait window in Honan Chapel, Cork, Ireland (1914). The bottom of design features the story of Gobnait driving off the brigand. St. Gobnait stained glass window design.tif
Harry Clarke's design drawing for the Saint Gobnait window in Honan Chapel, Cork, Ireland (1914). The bottom of design features the story of Gobnait driving off the brigand.

One story tells of how she drove off a brigand by sending a swarm of bees after him and making him restore the cattle he had stolen. [2]

Well

St Gobnait's well (also known as St Debora's, Deriola's or Abigail's well) is situated to the North of Ballyagran in a high field to the left of the road to Castletown. Rounds were made and a pattern was held on 11 February until around 1870. The well has now dried up but the site is still known. It is said that a white stag could sometimes be seen at the well. [4]

Veneration

In 1601 Pope Clement VIII granted a special indulgence to those who, on Gobnait's day, visited the parish church, went to Confession and Communion and who prayed for peace among 'Christian princes', expulsion of heresy and the exaltation of the church. [5]

Gobnait was originally a patron of ironworkers. Excavation at the church in Ballyvourney yielded considerable evidence of ironworking on the site. [6]

The saint is still locally venerated today, [1] and is among a group of Irish saints whose feast day has been given national rather than just local recognition. The main centres of devotion to Gobnait are Inis Oírr (Aran Islands), Dún Chaoin in West Kerry and Balleyvourney near the Cork / Kerry border. [5] She is depicted on a stained glass window at Honan Chapel in Cork, which was made by artist Harry Clarke in 1916. [7]

Former churches dedicated to Gobnait are commemorated in townlands and other places named Kilgobnet (Irish : Cill Ghobnait "church of Gobnait"): in counties Kerry (near Milltown [5] and Dunquin [8] ), Waterford (near Dungarvan), Limerick (in Ballyagran), and Cork (near Glantane, Dripsey, and Clondrohid). [9]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Johnston, "Munster, saints of (act. c.450–c.700)."
  2. 1 2 3 "A Gathering of Irish Saints", AOH division 61, Philadelphia
  3. Nolan, Mark, "St. Gobnait's Day", Enfield Beekeepers
  4. "Holy Wells", Limerick Diocese Heritage
  5. 1 2 3 Diocese of Kerry, St Gobnait.
  6. Duffy, Patrick. "St. Gobnait", CatholicIreland.net
  7. Bowe, "Wilhelmina Geddes", p. 83.
  8. "Cill Ghobnait/Kilgobnet Penitential Station". Placenames Database of Ireland . Retrieved 13 September 2014.
  9. "'Kilgobnet'". Placenames Database of Ireland . Retrieved 13 September 2014.

See also

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References

Further reading