Happy Feast of Saint Colman

Statue of Saint Colman in Saint Colman’s Church, Kinvara

Happy Feast of Saint Colman, 29th October, to all in Ballinderreen Parish and Kinvara Parish!
Saint Colman was born around 570 in Corker, near Kiltartan Cross. His mother was Rhinagh and his father, Duagh, hence the name St Colman Mac Duagh. He was the founder and Bishop of the Diocese of Kilmacduagh, that is, the Church of Mac Duach and he lived in the late 6th and early 7th centuries, a time that was seen as a golden age of Ireland’s holiness and when monastic life was flourishing. While young, Colman went to Inis Mór in the Aran Islands to learn the spirituality of the hermit Saints, seeking union with God in contemplative prayer. He built two Churches there. After that, he spent 7 years in prayer and penance as a hermit in the forests that then covered the Burren in County Clare. Colman lived in penance and contemplation with a mouse to wake him up, a cock to keep time, and a fly to mark his place in his book while reading. So he was a bit like St Francis later in his love of animals and God’s creation. He corresponded with St Colmcille of Iona for advice.
Colman lived austerely and he had an assistant to help him who also lived this kind of life. But one year on Easter Sunday, Colman and his assistant had very little to eat. The assistant began to lose heart and he complained that their life was so severe that they were stuck with such austerity even on the Church’s day of Resurrection joy. So Colman prayed to God to supply a feast to give some consolation to his assistant.
King Guaire, after whom the present Dun Guaire Castle is named, was Colman’s cousin, and he became King of Connacht at the beginning of the 7th century and he had his residence in Kinvara where Dun Guaire Castle is now. That Easter Sunday, King Guaire was with his chieftans were having a lavish banquet at his stronghold in Kinvara. King Guaire was a devout man, so he prayed a Grace before Meals. He prayed in these words, ‘O would that it pleased Heaven that this banquet were set before some servants of God who require it, as for us, we might easily be provided with another.’ Immediately, the dishes lifted by themselves from the table and flew out the window. The King’s retinue and all the people of the area ran after them to see where they were going, and the dishes went all the way as far as Colman and his assistant and were set down in front of them. The King and his people were astonished. The assistant said to St Colman, ‘O Father, behold the reward of your patience. Let us thankfully partake of the food sent us by our good God.’ The approach road to that area became known as Bóthar na Mias, ‘The Road of the Dishes,’ and it’s nice that a housing estate in Kinvara now has that name to remember the story.
King Guaire was actually a holy man himself and he very impressed by Colman’s sanctity and he asked Colman to come out of his solitude to bring the faith to the territory in South Galway and to found a monastery. St Colman founded the monastery of Kilmacduagh, around 610. As Bishop, had a Cathedral built there. He preached the faith and converted many people in this South Galway area. The faith flourished in the area under his guidance, and several religious houses were built. At the end of his life, Colman returned to the Burren, to the Valley of Oughtmama, to focus solely again on becoming close to God, to prepare for his death. He died on 29th October 632, the date that became his feast day, and he was buried at Kilmacduagh.