Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Canice

Saint KennethArticle

(or Kenny) Commemorated on 11 October, born in 515 or 516, at Glengiven, in what is now County Derry, Ireland; died at Aghaboe in 600. He was descended from Ui-Dalainn, a Waterford tribe which dwelt on an island now identified as Inis-Doimhle in the Suir. The father of the saint was a distinguished bard who found his way to the North and settled at Glengiven in Cinachta under its chief. His mother was called Maul; her name is commemorated in the church of Thomplamaul, Kilkenny, dedicated to God under her invocation. The early years of Canice were spent in watching his chieftain’s flocks, but, God calling him to higher aims, we find him in 543 at Clonard, under Saint Finian, where he was a fellow-pupil of Saint Columba. In 544 he was studying in the school of Glasnevin, with Saint Kieran of Clonmacnoise and Saint Comgall of Bangor, under the tuition of Saint Mobhi. He was ordained priest in 545 in the monastery of Llancarvan in Glamorganshire, and set out for Rome to obtain the blessing of the reigning pontiff. In 550 we find him again at Glengiven, where he converted his foster-brother, Geal-Breagach, who afterwards assisted him in founding Drumachose. In 565 he passed over to Scotland, where his name is recalled in the ruins of an ancient church, Kil-Chainnech on Tiree Island, and in a burial ground, Kil-Chainnech, in Iona. He built cells on the island of Ibdon and Eninis, an oratory called Lagan-Kenny on the shores of Lough Lagan, and a monastery in Fifeshire on the banks of the Eden. He is known in Scotland as Saint Kenneth, was closely associated with Saint Columba in the latter’s missionary work, and, next to him and Saint Bridget, is the favourite Irish saint in Scotland (Eammack). See Reeve’s “Adamnàn”; also the ancient lives in the “Codex Solmanticensis” edited by De Smedt and Backer, and the “Liber Kilkenniensis” in Marsh’s Library, Dublin. His Irish foundations were Drumachose, two miles southeast of Limavady, Kilkenny West, in County Westmeath, and the great Abbey of Aghaboe in Ossory, Queens County. Tradition asserts that he founded a monastery in Kilkenny by the round tower and cathedral which bears his name. A man of great eloquence and learning, he wrote a commentary on the Gospels, known for centuries as Glas-Chainnigh.

MLA Citation

  • Michael O’Kane. “Saint Canice”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. Saints.SQPN.com. 12 October 2013. Web. 26 July 2014. <>