Brendan and the Spread of Celtic Monasticism
As well as being known as Brendan the navigator he's is also referred to as St. Brendan of Ardfert and Clonert. Generally when we speak of St. Brendan it is in relation to his epic voyage.Though He was in his fifties upon his return from his journey Brendan went on to established a number of foundations (monastic communities) and traveled extensively through out Great Britain and parts of Europe
After many years of seafaring Brendan at last returned to Ireland. As the story of the seven years' voyage was carried about, crowds of pilgrims and students flocked to Ardfert. In a few years, many religious houses were formed at Gallerus, Kilmalchedor, Brandon Hill, and the Blasquet Islands to serve the many people who sought spiritual guidance from St. Brendan. Brendan then founded a monastery at Inis-da-druim (now Coney Island, County Clare), in the present parish of Killadysert, about the year 550. He journeyed to Wales, and studied under Saint Gildas at Llancarfan. He visited Iona, and was a contemporary and disciple of St. Finian. He left traces of his apostolic zeal at Kilbrandon (near Oban) and Kilbrennan Sound. After three years in Britain he returned to Ireland and did much good work in various parts of Leinster, especially at Dysart (Co. Kilkenny), Killiney (Tubberboe), and Brandon Hill. The great mountain that juts out into the Atlantic in County Kerry is called Mount Brandon, because he built a little chapel atop it, and the bay at the foot of the mountain is Brandon Bay. He also founded the Sees of Ardfert, and of Annaghdown, and established churches at Inchiquin, County Galway, and at Inishglora, County Mayo.
Brendan's most celebrated foundation was Clonert in Galway, in 557, over which he appointed St. Moinenn as Prior and Head Master. The great monastery at Clonert housed 3,000 monks, whose rule of life was constructed with remarkable austerity. This was a double moestary which also included a convent for women initially placed under the charge of his sister, St. Briga.
The group of ecclesiastical remains at Ardfert is one of the most interesting and instructive now existing in Ireland. The ruins of the ancient Cathedral of St. Brendan, and of its annexed chantries and detached chapels, form a very complete reliquary of Irish ecclesiastical architecture, in its various orders and ages, from the plain but solid Danhliag of the seventh or eighth century to some late and most ornate examples of medieval Gothic. The cathedral, as it now stands, or rather as it stood before it was finally dismantled in A.D. 1641.
graphics: L.St. Brendan's Cathedral, Ardfert, Doolin, Ireland.
R. The oldest living church in Ireland; current building was built in late 1100's but Clonfert was one of the principle monastic communities in Ireland dating back to the 6th centruy. A celebrated center of learning, at times it had over 3000 monks...
More living water links to Brendan