Saint Adamnan

Adamnan, Saint, was born about 624, in the district now part of the County of Donegal.

Very little is known concerning his early life, except that he was Abbot of Raphoe, a monastery which he probably founded.

In 679 he was elected Abbot of the island of Iona, and in 686 was successful in a mission to Britain to plead for certain captives who had lately been carried away from Meath.

About 692 he visited Ireland for the purpose of settling some matters connected with the Borromean tribute.

In 697 he attended the Synod of Tara.

It is probable that between these two visits he wrote his celebrated work, Vita Sancti Columbae.

The latter part of his life was chiefly spent in efforts (attended with little success) to induce his countrymen and the Hebridean Scots to accept the Roman computation of Easter.

He is supposed to have died in 704 at Iona.

Adamnan is justly considered one of the fathers of the Irish Church—no fewer than ten Irish and eight Scotch churches having been dedicated to, or called after him.

His Vita Sancti Columbae has been edited by Dr. Reeves, chiefly from a MS. of the early part of the 8th century, preserved in the public library of Schaffhausen.

The following interesting remarks upon its style are made by the learned editor:—

“The reader will observe the liberal employment of diminutives, so characteristic of Irish composition. He delights in distributive numerals instead of cardinals, and in the adjective termination ax where admissible. He uses the pluperfect for the perfect, and the nominative instead of the ablative absolute. He occasionally employs Greek or Greco-Latin words; and in a few instances introduces Irish and Hiberno-Latin expressions. Proper names he sometimes inflects according to the rules of Irish grammar.”[85]

Adamnan's festival is 23rd September.


85. Columba, St., Adamnan's Life of: Edited by Rev. William Reeves, D.D. (I. A. S.) Dublin, 1857.

119. Ecclesiastical History of Ireland: Rev. John Lanigan. 4 vols. Dublin, 1822.

234. Martyrology of Donegal: Edited by J. H. Todd, D.D., and William Reeves, D.D. (I.A.S.) Dublin, 1864.