An introduction to six Irish saints

For many people, Irish saints begin and end with St Patrick, the patron saint who drove the snakes from Ireland. Let’s take a look at six Irish saints who deserve the spotlight.

St Finbar

The patron saint of Cork, St Finbar was named for his shock of light hair when he was born. St Finbar’s monastery in Southern Ireland attracted many followers, and he has had a range of miracles attributed to him. According to legend, the sun did not set for a fortnight after his death in the year 633 (

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St Brigid
The other patron saint of Ireland, St Brigid was celebrated for her generosity to the poor. She was canonised in recognition of her miraculous healing. St Brigid’s feast day is the 1st of February. It is celebrated across Ireland by children weaving Brigid’s crosses from rushes.

St Patrick
No list of Irish saints is complete without the biggest name. St Patrick is perhaps most famous for the legend of driving snakes from Ireland. There are no record of snakes appearing in Ireland, but this is perhaps an allegory for St Patrick driving druids from Ireland at the same time as establishing Christianity there.

St Patrick’s day is celebrated on 17th March with festivities across Ireland. Many people exchange St Patricks Day gifts, such as those available from¬†

St Colmcille
Also known as St Columba, St Colmcille left Ireland following his ordainment in 521. Many people believe that the reason he left was a family feud and an incident that left 3000 people dead, for which St Columba has been partly blamed.

St Oliver Plunkett
Oliver Plunkett left Ireland after being ordained due to persecution in Ireland. Plunkett then taught in Rome until 1669, when he returned to Ireland as Archbishop of Armagh. A man of peace, St Oliver Plunkett became the first Irish martyr to be beatified and the first new Irish saint for nearly 700 years when he was canonised in 1975.

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St Ita
In embodying the six key virtues of Irish womanhood (circa 475) – wisdom, beauty, purity, gentle speech, needle skills and musical ability – St Ita refused to be married, instead gaining permission from her father to live a virginal life. Miracles attributed to St Ita include reuniting a beheaded man’s head with its body.

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