Holy Cow. The miraculous animals of the Irish Saints: Part 7, St Ciarán of Saighir and his cow

This is part seven in my series of posts about the saints and their animals. This post features St Ciarán of Saighir, the founder of the great monastery of Seir Keiran in Co Offaly and his cow.


St Ciaran of Saighir.

Like earlier posts about St Ciarán of  Clonmacnoise, St Manchan of Lemanaghan and St Patrick the theme of the story relates to the theft of the saints cow.




Site of St Ciaran’s monastery Seir Keiran Co Offaly


This story was recorded in the Irish  Life of St Ciarán of Saighir, compiled in the seventeenth century. The text recalls

a thief came westward over the Slieve Bloom, and stole a cow from Ciarán.

Below is a location map showing the  location of Slieve Bloom Mountains and the monastic settlement of Seir Keiran.

seir kieran

After Google Earth location map of Seir Kieran monastic settlement and the Slieve Bloom Mountain range.

There is no mention of the cow having any miraculous abilities like the cows of the other saints, however, divine intervention stops the progress of the thief allowing the cow to escape and return to her rightful owner.  As the thief is crossing a river the waters rose and drowned him and the cow to the saint.

Mist and unspeakable darkness rose against him, and a river so strong in flood, so that he was drowned, and the cow returned to Ciarán again (BNÉ, Vol. II, 105).




Plummer, C. (ed.) 1922 reprint 1997 Bethada Náem nÉrenn. Vol.1, 2 Oxford.





New Book On Historic Sites of Ireland’s Ancient East

Last week I got a copy of  Ireland’s Ancient East. A Guide to its Historic Treasures written by Neil Jackman.


New guide-book Ireland’s Ancient East. A Guide to its Historic Treasures

The is a guide-book that covers over 100 sites located within the area of Bord Fáilte’s new Ancient East which includes the counties of Louth Monaghan, Cavan, Longford, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Offaly, Laois, Carlow, Wicklow, Kilkenny Tipperary, Wexford, Waterford and parts of East Limerick and Cork.

I must confess a copy of the old Shell Guide to Ireland published in 1967  lives in my car but I will now have to make room for Ireland’s Ancient East guidebook.

I must say I love this book and I can see myself using it a lot when visiting historic sites within the aforementioned counties. The book covers a wide range of sites ranging from 19th Century Historic Houses, medieval church sites to passage tombs.  Some of the sites are well-known such as  Clonmacnoise, Newgrange and the Rock of Cashel,  but the author also includes equally impressive but lesser known sites such as  Athassel Abbey near Golden in Co Tipperary and  the Gaulstown Dolmen in Waterford.

As a guide-book the information for each site is researched to a high standard and  the author hits the right balance between providing detailed historical information on of each site without overloading the reader with too much information. It also provides useful information about parking,  clear directions and the location of the nearest town.

Last Saturday I took the book with me when visiting Lismore Castle in Co Waterford. I was able to sit in Lismore Castle gardens and read a concise history of the development of Lismore from its origins as an Early Medieval monastic settlement to its development into a Anglo Norman centre and later an estate town. It also alerted me to other sites within the town such as Lismore Cathedral.


View of Lismore Castle from gardens.

The book also includes a very nice entry on one of my favourite sites and one of the best kept secrets of Co Waterford a place called The Towers at Ballysaggartmore located a few miles from Lismore on the Ballyduff-Lismore road.


The Towers Ballysaggartmore Co Waterford

The “Towers” are  two ornate entrance lodges one of which is also a bridge that are situated on the former Ballysaggartmore Demesne commissioned by  Arthur Kiely Ussher, one of the most hated men in 19th century Waterford.


Part of what is known as the Towers, an entrance into Ballysaggartmore Demesne.

This book would make a great present for anyone interested in exploring the Irish countryside. If you want to pick up a copy of the books its available in most large  bookshops and on line at Amazon and Collins Press.  It is also for sale at a discount  on the Collins Press Website.

Useful web addresses