Gobban Saer

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Gobban Saer, "Gobban the Builder," or St. Gobban, a distinguished builder of ecclesiastical edifices, was probably born at Turvey, on the coast north of Dublin, early in the 7th century. Tradition ascribes to him the erection of the round towers of Kilmacduagh, Antrim, and many others. Dr. Petrie writes: "Nor can I think the popular tradition of the country is of little value, which ascribes the erection of several of the existing towers to the celebrated architect Gobban,.. for it is remarkable that such a tradition never exists in connexion with any towers but those in which the architecture is in perfect harmony with the churches of that period, as in the towers of Kilmacduagh, Killala, and Antrim... It is equally remarkable that though the reputation of this architect is preserved in all parts of the island in which the Irish language is spoken, yet the erection of the oldest buildings in certain districts in the south and west of Ireland is never ascribed to him, the tradition of these districts being that he never visited, or was employed on buildings south-west of Galway, or south-west of Tipperary."

Some of the annalists inform us that blindness was inflicted on him in old age as a just punishment for the exorbitant charges he had made ecclesiastics for his services. Dr. Reeves has shown "Gobbin's Heir Castle," near Ballycastle, to be a corruption of "Gobban Saer's Church;" and Kilgobbin, in the County of Dublin, may have received its name from him. No fewer than eight St. Gobbans appear in the Martyrology of Donegal; under 17th March, 26th March, 30th March, 1st April, 30th May, 16th July, 5th November, 6th December.

Sources

261. O'Curry, Eugene: Ancient Irish Manners and Customs: Edited by W. K. Sullivan, Ph.D. 3 vols. London, 1873.

298. Round Towers and Ecclesiastical Architecture of Ireland: George Petrie, LL.D. Dublin, 1845.

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