St. Canice

 moccu Dalánn of Aghaboe

 (b. 515/16 – d. 600)


Feast Day: October 11th



Is also known as St. Canice in Ireland, St. Kenneth in Scotland, and in Latin St. Canicus, and was an abbot, monastic founder, priest and missionary during the early medieval period. Canice is one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland and preached Christianity to the Irish and to the Picts in Scotland. He wrote a commentary on the Gospels, which is known as the Chain of Canice. Most of what is written about Canice's life is based on tradition, however he was considered a man of virtue, great eloquence and learning.


Canice was born in 515 or 516, at Glengiven, near Dungiven in Ireland. He died and was reposed at Aghaboe in 599/600.


His father Lughadh Leithdhearg descended from the Ui Dalainn, a tribe whose ancestor, Dalann, is traced back to Fergus (King of Ulster.) The Corco-Dalann were from an island known as the Little Island, in the River Suir, near Waterford. Lughadh was a distinguished bard and poet. After wandering, he settled at Glengiven, in County Derry. Canice's mother was called Maul, a saintly woman. She dedicated the church of Thompleamoul near beside Kilkenny city.


Canice spent his early years watching his chieftain's flocks.


In early Christian Ireland the druid tradition collapsed, with the spread of the new faith. Study of Latin and Christian theology flourished. In 543, Canice became a pupil at Clonard. During the sixth century, some of the most significant names in the history of Irish Christianity studied at the Clonard with 3,000 students at the time. Twelve students of St. Finian became known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland, Canice was one of these. Here he became a friend and companion of St Colmcille.


In 544, St. Mobhi taught him, St. Kieran, and St. Congeal at Glasnevin. When plague scattered that community, he went as a monk Saint Cadoc’s monastery of Llancarfan in Glamorganshire in Wales. He was ordained a priest there in 545. He went to Rome and received the blessing of Pope Vigilus. In 550 he returned to Glengiven, where he converted his foster-brother, Geal-Breagach, who assisted him in founding Drumachose, in nearby Limavady.


Canice spent a lot of time in County Meath and Ossory (County Laois.) In Ossory, he became friends with King Colman. The king gave him grants of land including Aghaboe ("the field of the Ox") and established his principle monastery. It grew in importance and for a time the site of the bishop's see, until Norman’s got the see transferred from Aghaboe to Kilkenny. In 1346 Diarmaid Mac Giollaphádraig burned the town of Aghaboe, the Church, and cemetery. This completely destroyed Canice's shrine along with his bones and relics.

Kilkenny ("The Church of Canice") was the name of Canise’s church. This was the last area of Ireland to be converted to Christianity. In 597, Canice led a Christian force to eliminate the last of Druidic rule in Ireland. The last Archdruid of Ireland and Council fled to a mound in Kilkenny for safety. Canice led an army there and overcame them. He founded a monastery near what is now the Church of Ireland's St. Canice's Cathedral.