According to his acts quoted by Usher, he was a pupil of the religious man, Nathan; and, when a youth, was one of the fifty hostages whom the princes of Ireland gave to king Lóegaire mac Néill, by whom he was set free at the intercession of Bishop Kieran. He then went into France, and passed some time at Tours in the monastery of St. Martin. 
Returning to his native country, he converted great numbers to Christianity in Connacht. Then he went to Leinster, and founded a church in a place called to this day The Wood of Cianán. At length he went into the territory of Owen, (Tír Eoghain,) whose niece, Eithne, was Cianán's mother. There he broke down an idol with an altar that was dedicated to it, and on the place built a Christian church. In the office of St. Cianán extant in manuscript in the library at Cambridge, it is said that the saint built here a church of stone, on that account called Damliag, corrupted into Duleek. It was the site of the first stone church in Ireland. He died on the 24th of November, in 489.
Modern research indicates he may have been the namesake of the Ciannachta.
- Usher, Antiq. 1. 29, and Primord. p. 1070;
- Ind. Chron. ad ann. 450;
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