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Saint Brónach
Major shrine Kilbroney (Irish: Cell Brónche)
Feast 2 April

Saint Brónach (sometimes anglicised to Bronagh) was a 6th-century holy woman from Ireland, the reputed founder and patron saint of Cell Brónche ("church of Brónach"), now Kilbroney, in County Down, Northern Ireland.[1]


A disciple of Saint Patrick, she built a refuge for sailors who were shipwrecked in Carlingford Lough. The ringing of Bronach’s bell warned of a rising storm on the dangerous waters of the Lough. About 150 years ago a storm brought down a large old oak tree in the Kilbroney churchyard, and in its branches was found a 10th-century bell. The bell is now in the local church in Rostrevor.[2]

Lying in Glenn Sechis, a mountain valley in County Down (near Rostrevor), Cell Brónche lay at some distance from the major political centres of the region.[1] It may have been a nunnery in origin, but later came to serve as a pastoral church manned by nuns as well as one or several priests.[1] It was chosen as the parish church of Glenn Sechis.[1] A high cross which survives among the ruins of Cell Brónche attests to the importance of her church.[1] It is made of Mourne granite and stands over the traditional site of her grave in the old cemetery. It is part of the "Saint Patrick’s Trail".[2] The building suffered damage during the 1641 Rebellion, as well as in Cromwellian times.

There is a stained glass window depicting Bronach in All Saints Church, Ballymena.[3]

According to the genealogies of the saints, she is the mother of Saint Mo Chóe of Nendrum and herself a daughter of Míliucc maccu Buain.[1]

In the Irish martyrologies (O'Clery, Martyrology of Tallaght, note added to Félire Óengusso), her feast day is 2 April.[1][4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Charles-Edwards, "Ulster, saints of (act. c.400–c.650)"
  2. ^ a b "St. Bronach", Discover Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourist Board
  3. ^ Waterson, Breda. "The beautiful stained glass windows of All Saints' Church", Parish of Kirkinriola
  4. ^ "Brónach virgo, from Glenn Sechis". Note to Félire Óengusso, 2 April.

Primary sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ó Riain, Pádraig (1989). "Sanctity and politics in Connacht c. 1100: the case of St Fursa". Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies. 17: 1–14. 

External links[edit]