Fintan of Clonenagh

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Not to be confused with Saint Fintán of Taghmon

Saint Fintan was born in Leinster about 524. He received his religious formation in Terryglass, Co. Tipperary under the abbot Colum mac Crimthainn, and was deeply influenced by his penitential practices and the severity of the Rule.


Fintan spent his early years in Carlow before making his own foundation in Clonenagh, Co. Laois.[1] His disciples included St Colmán of Oughaval, St. Comgall of Bangor, and St. Aengus the Culdee. He has been compared by the Irish annalists to St. Benedict, and is styled "Father of the Irish Monks".[2]

Though he is sometimes confused with Saint Fintán or Munnu, abbot of Taghmon, they are distinct. He died in 603. His feast day is on February 17.

St. Fintan's Tree, Clonenagh[edit]

St. Fintan's Tree, Clonenagh

This tree, an acer pseudoplatanus, was planted in the late 18th or early 19th century at the site of the Early Christian monastic site of Clonenagh. The monastery was founded in the 6th century by Columba of Terryglass and then left to his disciple St. Fintan when St. Colum moved on to Terryglass. The tree is dedicated to St. Fintan and it became custom to insert coins into the tree from which the tree suffered and was believed to be dead until the tree started to recover with some new shoots.[3]


Further reading[edit]

  • Millar, Seamus. "St Fintan of Clonenagh." Carloviana: Journal of the Old Carlow Society 1:22 (1973): 10-12. RHS record.
  • Sperber, Ingrid. "'Late and not of special distinction'? The misunderstood Life of St Fintan of Clonenagh". In Ossory, Laois and Leinster 1 (2004): pp. 28–49. ISSN 1649-4938. RHS record.