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The 12 Apostles of Ireland

The 12 Apostles of Ireland

Posted by Jessica Sommerfield on 17th Jul 2019

With a number of revered saints in the Christian church, a good number of them have their roots in Ireland. With this fact, Ireland stands out as one of the most significant places in the world where Christianity as a religion had the perfect setting to get a footing, grow and spread across the globe.

Some of the most revered, respected and admired saints in Ireland are the 12 Apostles of Ireland. The twelve apostles of Ireland were monastic saints who were under the pupilage of St Finnian of Clonard and are regarded to have established the Christian religion into the Irish culture. Their teachings and aids in ingraining Christianity into Ireland by setting up monasteries in Ireland and beyond is the reason why they are held in such high esteem by the Irelands Christian populace. There are some other saints not regarded in the list of the 12 apostles of Ireland, who will be mentioned later on in this feature. This feature aims at highlighting to some degree, the lives and times of the 12 apostles of Ireland and any other relevant revered saints in the Irish Christian culture.


To begin with is Saint Ciaran of Saighir who is regarded as the first saint born in Ireland, was born in the 5th century. He came from a noble and humble background. Folklore has it that he was born after his mother had a dream in which she foresaw bearing a child known and revered all over the world. He studied in Rome, before coming back to Saighir where he was a bishop, creating some of the first soft landing of the Christian religion across Ireland. He preached and spread Christianity in his native Ireland. His feast day is on 5th March, sharing the day with st. Liadan. He is venerated in the Orthodox Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

Saint Ciara of Clonmacnoise, was born in c. 516 and died in c. 549 in Connacht, Ireland. He is regarded as the first abbot of Clonmacnoise. He was born of a carpenter and chariot maker father, starting his life as a humble and noble livelihood. He had his chance to begin his education in Inishmore, giving him a chance to find the Christian foundation enabling him to become the very first abbot of Clonmacnoise, his birthplace. He is honored in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. His feast day is commemorated every 9th day of September.

Saint Brendan of Birr, a close early of Saint Columba, is third in the list of the 12 apostles of Ireland. he is regarded as a humble, honest and a person with a fine character. He died in the year c. 573 with his birthdate missing in the history books. He was initially a monk, later on becoming an abbot. He is celebrated to having established the monastery at Birr, spreading Christianity in this region and beyond. From his humble beginnings, he was able to later on in his life, with determination and hard work, be able to spread Christianity in Ireland his native home. His Feast day of Brendan is celebrated on 29 of November.

Saint Brendan of Clonfert, was born in c. AD 484 and died c. AD 577. He was a renowned navigator whose voyages spanned across the world with it. Brendan's island being named after him just to show how far and wide he traveled, giving him a chance and opportunity to spread and preach Christianity to the masses. He studied at Tuam, from the early age of 6, with the Christian values and teachings being established in his mind. He was canonized in 1284 and beatified in 1990. He was venerated in the Roman Catholic Church. The feast of Saint Brendan of Clonfert is commemorated on May 16th.

Saint Columba of Terryglass is the fifth in the list of the twelve apostles of Ireland. He as vastly well-traveled, going to Rome and England in his lifetime, both to study, learn and have the chance to spread and establish Christianity. He died on 13th December 552. He was venerated in Orthodox Church. December 12 is the day his feast is celebrated.

Saint Columba, born on December 7th and died on 9th June, 597. He is renowned for establishing a number of monasteries across Ireland, giving root to the growth and spread of Christianity. He was under the pupillage of world-renowned Christian preachers of his time in Ireland, later on becoming a teacher to many more Christian students. He is renowned for his imprint in the Christian history books as a hardworking person that created an environment rich enough for Christianity to be established and to flourish. He is revered in both the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. A shrine dedicated to him is located at Iona, Scotland. He is commemorated on 9th June. He is also renowned for establishing certain practices in the church including monk’s robes and the crosier.

Saint Mobhi of Glasnevin, was born on October 12th, 544. He was a tutor at a local Irish monastery and was a teacher to many Irish Christian leaders who later on went ahead to preach and spread Christianity. He was venerated by his own students after his death at the school he was teaching. His feast day is on October 12th.

Saint Ruadhan of Lorrha, died in the year 584 April 15th. He was renowned and revered for his prophesies, some of which were scary and of doom but of which many if not all of his prophesies came to pass. From humble beginnings to having the chance to change the course of religion in his native Ireland, he did all this with zeal and gusto. He enabled Christianity to be the core religion in the regions that he had a chance to preach and visit. He was venerated in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. His feast day is on 15th April.

Saint Senan of Inis Cathaigh, was born in the year 488 in County Clare, Ireland. His name basically translates to the little old wise man. He was a well-traveled person in his time across Europe, visiting Britain and France, living the imprint of Christianity with every place he visited. He established, among others, 5 monasteries in Ireland that are all still regarding him as the founder of Christianity in the areas that he set them. He is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church and his feast day is on March 8.

Saint Ninnidh the saintly of Lough. He was majorly involved in scouting and preaching at the south part Lough Ern, establishing and spreading Christianity to the inhabitants of these regions. He is regarded as a greater force that ensured that Christianity was established in the south shores of Lough Erne. His feast day is commemorated on January 18.

Saint Laisren mac Nad Froich, is the 11th on the list of the twelve saints of Ireland. He is regarded as the one who established the Devenish monastery. He is said to have visited Rome, enriching his knowledge on Christian values that would later on an impact on his mission to establish and spread Christianity in his native Ireland. According to available records, he died in the year 564. His feast day is on 12th September.

Saint Canice the Patron of Aghaboe in County Laois is the very last in the list of the 12 apostles of Ireland. He was born in the year c. AD 515 died in the year 600. He is revered for having preached and spread Christianity across Ireland and into Scotland, having been a missionary and teacher of the Christian religion. He was considered a learned, upright and forward thinking cleric of his time. He used his knowledge and influence to create the perfect space for Christianity as a religion to spread and grow. He is among the latest saints in Ireland who set out to live their lives in the service of others and in spreading Christianity. Though he was later on persecuted for his belief and stand on religion, his teachings live on to this day. He was recognized in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.


Other notable saints that are revered for helping the establishment and the spread of Christianity include modern saints like Oliver Plunkett, regarded as the last victim of the Popish plot. He was a renowned archbishop, born on November 1st, 1625 and died on 1st July 1681. Despite harsh criticism and persecution from the English, he maintained his steadfast belief and standing in matters of Christianity, enabling Christianity to continue spreading across Europe. He was beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1975.

Christianity has stood the test of time, amidst persecutions that led to segregations, deaths, and infamy of Christians in their thousands. The people were later to be regarded as saints, stood their ground, in the face of death, to stand with Christianity. It is such firm beliefs that help Christianity be an established and recognized religion around the world. In its wake, the saints that helped Christianity stay alive amidst all the challenges remain revered, respected and held in high esteem within the Christian sphere.

The 12 apostles of Ireland are the perfect example of people who made sacrifices to ensure that Christianity was established in Ireland and into its culture, practices, and beliefs and spread across Europe and the entire globe. With humble beginnings and little to show off in their lives, they made Christianity their number one goal and ambition and were prepared to die for to ensure that Christianity as a religion, the practices and beliefs are rooted in their societies and beyond the borders. The twelve apostles of Ireland stood up for what they believed in, and their lives stories are ingrained in Irish society, and they are regarded as saints and legends. Centuries on, the spirits of the 12 apostles of Ireland lives on, inspiring other people who profess the Christian religion to stand firm in their belief and renew their faith. The 12 apostles of Ireland lay the ground for others to kook up to, encourage and inspire a number of Christians across Ireland, Europe, and the entire world.