Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Senan

[Saint Senan]Article

Bishop and confessor, born at Magh Lacha, Kilrush, County Clare, c.488; died 1 March 560, his parents being Erean and Comgella. His birth was prophetically announced by Saint Patrick on his visit to the Hy Fidhgent (County Limerick), and as a boy he was placed under the guidance of a saintly abbot called Cassidan, finishing his studies under Saint Naul) at Kilmanagh, County Kilkenny. He commenced his missionary career by founding a church near Enniscorthy, in 510 (or 512), and the parish is still known as Templeshannon (Teampul Senain). He then visited Menevia, Rome, and Tours, and returned to Ireland in 520. Having founded churches at Inniscarra (County Cork), at Inisluinghe, at Deer Island, Inismore, and Mutton Island, he finally settled at Iniscathay, or Scattery Island, County Clare. He was visited by Saint Ciaran and Saint Brendan, and other holy men, who had heard of his sanctity and miracles. Scattery Island became not only a famous abbey but the seat of a bishopric with Saint Senan as its first bishop. This event may be dated as about the year 535 or 540, and Saint Senan’s jurisdiction extended over the existing Baronies of Moyarta and Clonderalaw in Thomond, the Barony of Connelo in Limerick, and a small portion of Kerry from the Feal to the Atlantic. The legend of “Saint Senanus and the Lady”, as told in Tom Moore’s lyric, is founded on the fact that no woman was allowed to enter Scattery Island; not even Saint Cannera was permitted to land there, yet Saint Senan founded two convents for nuns, and was actually on a visit to one of them when he died. He was buried in the abbey church of Iniscathay on 8 March, on which day his feast is observed. The Diocese of Inniscathy continued till the year 1189, when it was suppressed. It was, however, restored by Pope Innocent VI, and continued as a separate see under Bishop Thomas (1358-68). In 1378 its possessions were divided, and the island remained a portion of Killaloe, being subsequently merged into the parish of Kilrush. One of the earliest references to the Round Tower of Inniscathay is in the Irish life of Saint Senan.

MLA Citation

  • William Grattan-Flood. “Saint Senan”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. Saints.SQPN.com. 7 March 2013. Web. 30 September 2014. <>