IRELAND OF MY HEART
St Abban’s Church in the lake Lady’s Island,
Co. Wexford, Ireland
Saint Abban of Adamstown, Ireland (+520)
Saint Abbán moccu Corbmaic (d. 520), also Eibbán or Moabba, is an Irish Saint. He was associated, first and foremost, with Mag Arnaide (Moyarney or Adamstown, near New Ross, Co. Wexford) and with Cell Abbáin (Killabban, County Laois). Also, he connected to other churches elsewhere in Ireland, notably that of his sister Saint Gobnait.
His pedigree in the Irish genealogies, which appear to have been composed in the interest of Cell Abbáin, suggests that he belonged to the Uí Chormaic (also Moccu Chormaic or Dál Chormaic). It identifies his father as Laignech (lit. “Leinsterman”), son of Mac Cainnech, son of Cabraid, son of Cormac, son of Cú Corb, while an Irish note to the Félire Óengusso (for 27 October) largely agrees if substituting Cabraid for Imchad. The Lives, on the other hand, state that his father was Cormac son of Ailill, king of Leinster, who died in 435 according to the Annals of the Four Masters, and name his mother Mílla, sister to St Ibar.
The Lives confuse the time of the saint’s historical floruit by attributing to him a life-span of over 300 years. He is brought into contact with such illustrious saints as Finnian of Clonard, Brendan of Clonfert (d. 577), Columba (d. 597), Gregory the Great, Munnu and Moling. One of the saint’s foundations is said to have been repeatedly pillaged by Cormac mac Diarmata (fl. 2nd half of the 6th century), king of Leinster from the Uí Bairrche, who is portrayed in much Leinster hagiography as a rival to the Uí Chennselaig. Abbán is also made a contemporary of even earlier figures like Saint Íbar, who is claimed to be his maternal uncle, and St Patrick.
Nothing is known of Abbán’s early life. The Lives tell that he was expected to succeed his father in Leinster, but that his devotion to God and the saintly miracles which he wrought while still in fosterage soon made clear that he was destined for a career in the church. The boy was sent to his maternal uncle, Bishop Íbar, with whom he travelled to Rome. In Italy, Abbán’s saintly powers proved to be of much use in warding off any danger presented by men, monsters and supernatural phenomena. Throughout the text, Abbán can be seen demonstrating his powers, exercising special authority over rivers and seas.