Gobhan has long been historically linked with the parish of Seagoe
– Teach dho-Ghobha in County Armagh, Ireland. A St Gobban - Gobban
find mac Lugdach (c. 560-639), was primarily known for his abbacy of
the monastery of Oldleighlin, County Carlow, where in 633 an important
synod was held to debate the timing of Easter. This monastery later
evolved into St Laserian's Cathedral, Old Leighlin. St. Gobban also
held authority at
Killamery – Cell Lamraide in county Kilkenny. St
Gobban died in 639 and was buried in either the ancient abbey of
Clonenagh: Cluain-Ednech, County Laois or Clooneagh: Chluain Each,
Gobhan of Seagoe in Iveagh
2 Gobban of Killamery
3 Gobban find mac Lugdach of Uí Ferba-Altraighe
4 St Gobban and St Scuithin
5 See also
7 Further reading
Gobhan of Seagoe in Iveagh
Clans, landscapes and borders
A holy man named St. Gobhan-(St Goban-Gobban-Goba) is associated with
the foundation c. 600, of a church of
Celtic Christianity origins in
the parish of Seagoe, Portadown, County Armagh, Northern
Ireland. The present St. Gobhan's church is a post reformation
Church of Ireland
Church of Ireland and is located within the
Anglican Communion Diocese
of Down and Dromore or alternatively the
Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church Diocese
of Dromore. The 17th century Irish historian and hagiographer
John Colgan wrote of this location: "Gobanus – Goba of Teg da-goba
– Seagoe, on the bank of the Bann in
Iveagh of Ulidia (also) St.
Gobanus of Killamery, near the mountain called Slievenaman."
Ireland early peoples and politics
Situated four miles due south of Lough Neagh, St. Gobhan's church
stands on a high-commanding ridge overlooking and to the east of the
upper river Bann in a region where three counties almost meet –
County Down and County Antrim. When St.
arrived in this locale almost one and a half thousand years ago he was
in the lands of the
Uí Echach Cobo
Uí Echach Cobo whose territory would later become
the baronies of Upper & Lower Iveagh,in modern day County
This boundary remained for many centuries until the Plantation of
Ulster when in 1605 "The land east of the Upper Bann on the shore of
Lough Neagh, known as Clanbrassilagh was formally annexed to the
County of Ardmaghe...becoming eventually the barony of Oneilland
East". The continuous spread of urban development and the
re-designation of boundaries has masked or obliterated the ancient
topography allowing many small and independent hamlets to be swallowed
up. Seagoe continued its independent existence until in 1888 the Local
Government (Ireland) Act 1898 facilitated its inclusion into Portadown
So although present day Seagoe by definition is in county Armagh, its
location and ancient history displays an affinity and tenuous bond of
ecclesiastical ties with the lands within the historical diocese of
Down and Dromore.The original foundation of St. Gobhan's church is in
the ancient cemetery some one hundred yards distance from the present
church. The old church ruins set amid tall Yew trees and ornate
headstones are a poignant reminder of its past and the present.
Gobban of Killamery
Whether political upheaval or ecclesiastical differences precipitated
St. Gobban's departure from OldLeighlin is unclear. However prior to
the highly important synod of 633 it would appear that he left his
monastery and along with numerous monks journeyed into the west of the
kingdom of Ossory. Again whether or not he founded or inherited the
monastery at Killamery:Cill lamraidhe in Ossory is disputed; however
during his abbacy its fame and importance flourished. The 9th century
book - "The Martyrology of Oengus states “of Gobban of Cell Lamraide
in Hui Cathrenn in the west of Ossory, a thousand monks it had, as
experts say and of them was Gobban.", The
Killamery High Cross has
become famous as part of the west Ossory group of High crosses.
Gobban find mac Lugdach of Uí Ferba-Altraighe
rattoo round tower and church
In the south west of Ireland, in the province of Munster, on the edge
of the Atlantic ocean, lies the "Kingdom" of
County Kerry (Irish:
Ciarraí). The kingdom of the
Ciarraige tribe whose founder was Ciar,
son of the legendary
Fergus mac Róich of the
Ulster Cycle in Irish
mythology. A place where crumbling fortresses on jagged headlands
still guard the memories of faded kingdoms.
In the "Martyrology of Oengus the culdee", (9th century register of
saints and their feast days), it is stated…"Of Gobban, i.e. of cell
Lamraide in Hui Cathrenn in the west of ossory, i.e. a thousand monks
it had, as experts say. angelic wall, i.e. angels founded the wall of
his church for him. Lane, an old tribe which was once in the south of
Ireland, and of them was Gobban."
The tribal name of Lane is an interpretation of the Irish O'Laoghin or
O'Laeghain as mentioned by
Geoffrey Keating when referring to the
Topographical Poems of
Seán Mór Ó Dubhagáin and Giolla na Naomh Ó
hUidhrín. where it is stated - "O'LAEGHAIN, O'Leyne, or Lane,
chief of UI ferba and O'Duibhduin, chief of Ui Flannain, districts in
the county of kerry...O'Laeghain, a warrior of fame, We found him over
Ui fearba; O'Cathnendaigh obtained the land, firmly settled under the
high hills of cualan."
Some authorities describe the land of Ui Ferba as extending northwards
Ballyheigue bay to Cashen Bay. However prior to
its breakup during the Cambro-Norman invasion of Ireland, Ui Ferba not
only included the forementioned lands but also included territory to
the west of
Tralee in the Dingle/
Scattered and embedded into this primitive landscape of stone age
dolmens and Iron Age forts are the very foundation stones of early
Irish medieval ecclesiastical sites.
Many of these early Christian sites, have been lost to the vagaries of
time, man and nature. However many still exist to some extent: one of
which is the ancient ecclesiastic site of Rattoo, with its famous
The estate of the Abbey and churches of Rattoo arose within
the ancient ecclesiastical see of Ardfert in the cantred of Altry
bordering Ui Ferba, within the over kingdom of
Ciarraige Luachra and
was founded by - "the gentle bishop Lugdach". This
ecclesastical site, which was reported to consist of seven churches
was long known as "Rath Muighe tuaiscirt" - the fort of the northern
plain. This bishop Lugdach, could be the father of Gobban find
mac Lugdach and this ecclesiaastical enclosure might not only be St.
Gobhan's birthplace: but also that of his real final resting abode.
It is generally regarded that St.
Gobhan was buried, or his holy relics
preserved at the celebrated monastery of St. Fintan of
Clonenagh(Cluain Ednech), county Laois. However St.
Gobhan had no
apparent ecclesiastical ties to this historic establishment. An
examination of the etymology of Cluain Eidhneach may be
instructive. The meaning of the middle Irish word Cluain is invariably
found to be a piece of fertile land surrounded by a bog or moor, or on
one side by a bog, and the other by water. Also the word
eidnech/eidhneach refers to an area of ivy clad trees. In summary
an area of raised fertile land surrounded by bog/swamp.
A few miles to the north of Ratoo the river Feale, Brick and Gale
converge: thus united they become the Cashen river which flows some
six more miles before emptying into Cashen bay on the River Shannon
estuary. The low ground south of the Cashen river was known as
cashen bog. The church of
Rattoo lies within this bog, though now
much reduced: however one and a half thousand years ago this
topography would have been more apparent.
The church of
Rattoo adjoins the ancient townland of Clooneagh:Cluain
Each. - while seven miles west of Tralee, on the Corkaguiny
peninsular is the old church of Kilgobbin.
St Gobban and St Scuithin
St. Gobban founded his monastery at OldLeighlin in 616. The boundary
lines of counties Carlow, Laois and Kilkenny all meet on the
castlecomer plateau. A portion of this plateau has often been referred
to as Slieve Margy. OldLeighlin sits on the eastern slopes of the
Johnswell hills in the south of the plateau in county Carlow. In the
6th century Scuithin left Ireland to become a disciple of the
Welsh holy man Saint David, whom he is credited with saving from
poisoning. On returning home to Ireland he became a hermit and
holy man in the Johnswell hills where the memory of his name and abode
are preserved in "tigh scuithin." While the site of "Tigh Scuthin"
has thankfully been preserved in the eponymous location of Tiscoffin
it has unfortunately almost obliterated the memory of St.
an actual historical entity.
When the ancient tuatha were reorganised Kilkenny was divided into
baronies and parishes. The Kilkenny barony of
Gowran includes the
civil parish of Tiscoffin (tigh scuithin) which stretches into the
Johnswell hills and it seems probable that here, in the 7th century
existed the fluid and fluctuating boundary between the Kingdom of
Ossory and that of
Leinster in which Old leighlin is situated.
Kilkenny would eventually become a county of
Leinster in 1210.
The county Kilkenny town of Castlewarren:(Caisleán an Bhairínigh) in
the civil parish of Tiscoffin preserves his memory with the Church of
Scuithin. This church is seven kilometres distant from
OldLeighlin. No doubt the ancient abode of St. Gobban of OldLeighlin
is on the periphery of Tigh Scuthin – Tiscoffin. Also according to
the Journal of the Royal Antiquaries of Ireland (1876) St. Gobban may
have briefly aboded at tigh Scuithin. (after leaving OldLeighlin
and before Killamery) for at a time unknown a monastery was erected
Time, linguistic variations, dialects and anglicisation has confused
St Goban and St.Scuithin: however two distinct
historical persons did exist. Vague references to a tascaffin in
county Limerick are extant but no designation of that name can be
found. However Tiscoffin monastery, county Kilkenny is in the List of
monastic houses in Ireland.
The Goban Saor.
The history of Ireland is steeped in mythology. According to Irish
invasions tradition the fifth group to arrive was the Tuatha Dé
Danann. They fought and won many battles and displaced and disposest
the Fir Bolg.The Tuatha de Danann had a trinity of gods of craft, the
most important of which was Goibniu. Goibnui forged lethal weapons and
brewed their magical elixirs of invincibility. His name in Old Irish
Gobae~Gobann translates as smith~craftsman. Gobann the craftsman – a
skilled builder – the Gobán Saor. St.
Gobhan was renowned as a
builder-founder of many churches. However as a founder he should be
acclaimed, for the churches were not lavish, spectular romanesque or
gothic cathedrals but simple mud and wattle mixtures that embraced
usually the holy well – Christianized to act as font. The
interconnectedness and mutuality of names and professions undoubtedly
gave rise to an expression of oneness.
The Goban Saor of the Tuatha de Danann existed in an un-dateable
period of Ireland's pre-history. St. Gobhan's death is recorded during
a dateable period of Ireland's early history. Although St.
not the goban saor of the Tuatha de Danann, he could be described as a
Goban Saor of 6th–7th century Ireland.
[Saint Gobain (other)Saint Gobain]
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