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.
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.
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.
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.