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September 9

St Kieran the Younger - September 9

Saint Kieran the Younger, or
Saint Ciarán of Clonmacnoise
Abbot of Clonmacnoise
(Around 516 – 544)

“Here then we will stay, for many souls will go to heaven hence, and there will be a visit from God and from men forever on this place.”

Saint Kieran the Younger

His Early Years

Kieran the Younger, also known as Ciarán, was born in County Roscommon, Connacht, Ireland around 516. Kieran is often called “the younger” to distinguish him from Kieran (Ciarán) of Saighir or Saint Kieran the Elder.

His father, Beoit, was a carpenter and chariot maker. He demonstrated a great aptitude in his studies, being educated by a holy deacon, Justus, who had him baptized.  As a boy, Kieran tended cattle in the fields. Then, he continued his education at the monastery school at Clonard, where he was a student of Saint Finian and Saint Dermot.


At Clonard, Kieran became a monk where he was considered the most learned monk there. He was held in high esteem by his instructors and peers. Kieran was a tutor to the daughter of the king of Cuala.

Hermit in Inishmore

Around 534, Kieran left Clonard for Inishmore on island of Aran in Ireland. Here, he studied under Saint Enda of Aran, who ordained him a priest and advised him to build a church and monastery in the middle of Ireland. Kieran was loved as a monk at the abbey of Isel in central Ireland, but was run off by his brother monks – his charity to the local poor was so great that it threatened to bankrupt the abbey.

Founded the Monastery of Clonmacnoise

On reaching the mainland Ireland, Kieran first paid a visit to Saint Senan of Scattery. Then, he proceeded towards the “middle of Ireland”, founding on his way two monasteries, in one of which, on Inis Ainghin, he spent over three years.

St Kieran the Young - Clonmacnois Monastery
Clonmacnoise Monastery in Clonmacnoise, Ireland

In 544, Kieran finally settled in Clonmacnoise along the Shannon River near the hill of Tara. Here, with ten fellow companions, he founded the Monastery of Clonmacnoise in West Meath Ireland, which attracted thousands of students from all over Europe. Kieran served as the monastery’s first abbot. He placed that house under a singularly austere rule, referred to as the Law of Kieran to draw those monks who felt a need to ignore the physical world completely. The house was known for centuries as a center of Irish learning and thought. As abbot, Kieran worked on the first buildings of the monastery, but died before their completion.


Various legends are connected to Kieran the Younger. One of the most famous legends relates that it was his cow – which he took with him as payment when he went to Clonard and gave milk to all at the Abbey. This cow also supplied the parchment for the Leobr na h’Uidre, Book of the Dun Cow, one of the oldest and most important Irish literary collections, compiled by a Clonmacnoise scribe in 1106.

Another story tells that Kieran lent his copy of the Gospel of St Matthew to fellow-student Saint Ninnidh. When Saint Finian tested the class, Kieran knew only the first half of the Gospel. The other students laughed and called him “Ciarán half-Matthew.” Saint Finian silenced them and said, “Not Ciarán half-Matthew, but Ciarán half-Ireland, for he will have half the country and the rest of us will have the other half.”

His Death

Kieran died of the plague on September 9, 544, in Clonmacnoise, Ireland. It is remarkable that a young saint dying before he was thirty-three, should have been the founder of a school whose fame was to endure for centuries. Saint Kieran was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland – the first twelve bishops in Ireland consecrated by Saint Patrick. He is also honored as the first Irish-born saint.

Born :                   Around 516 in County Roscommon, Connacht, Ireland

Died:                    September 9, 544 in Clonmacnoise, Ireland

Beatified:            Pre-Congregation

Canonized:         Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:          September 9

Patron Saint:     Clonmacnoise, Ireland; Diocese of Clonmacnois, Ireland



Saint Kieran the Younger had a vision of creating a sacred place of profound spirituality. The monastic school of Clonmacnoise, nestled on the banks of the River Shannon, had scholars from afar seeking the wisdom that emanated from this Irish church community he founded. Saint Kieran the Younger cultivated a spiritual oasis that would nourish the souls of those who sought refuge within its gates.

Like the monastic commmunity of Clonmacnoise that Saint Kieran the Younger created, how can you be a spiritual oasis to help, through your acts of kindess, to nourish the souls of all you encounter today?



Saint Kieran the Younger, you were a humble monk and founder of Clonmacnoise, in the quietude of the Irish landscape, you answered the divine call with a resounding yes.

Your hands built not only the stones of Clonmacnoise, but the spiritual haven that would endure through time.

May your legacy inspire us to seek the balance between the earthly and the sacred.

As you found communion in solitude, teach us to listen for the whispers of God through the noise of our daily lives.

Saint Kieran the Younger, pray for us, Amen.


Saint Links 

AnaStpaul – Saint Kieran the Younger (c 516-c 550)

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler Volume IX: September. The Lives of the Saints. 1866 September 9. St. Kiaran, Abbot in Ireland

Catholic Ireland – Sep 9 – St Ciaran of Clonmacnoise (6th century) abbot

Catholic Mom – The Miracles of Saint Ciaran, Patron of Oat Growers by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl. OSB

Catholic Online – St. Kieran

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Ciaran of Clonmacnoise (the Younger, Cluain Mocca Nois), Abbot – by Katherine I Rabenstein

Independent Catholic News – St Ciaran of Clonmacnoise

Irish Culture and Customs – St. Kieran of Clonmacnoise

Orthodox Church in America – Saint Ciaran of Clonmacnoise

Reason2BCatholic – Feast of St. Kieran the Younger

Saint for a Minute – Saint Kieran The Younger

Saints, Feast, Family – St. Kieran’s Story

Video Link

September 9th St. Kieran the Younger | The Saint of the Day Podcast – YouTube (Good Catholic)