May 18 is the feast of Saint Bran Beg of Clane, County Kildare. Canon O'Hanlon has published the following account of him:
St. Bran Beg, of Clane, County of Kildare. [Sixth or Seventh Century.]
In the published Martyrology of Tallagh at the 18th of May, the name of Branbice, of Chlaonadh, occurs; and, the entry is nearly alike, in the Franciscan copy. He is commemorated, likewise, in the "Feilire" of St. Oengus, at this date. He is noticed, also, by the Bollandists. This holy man is said to have been the son of Degill, and a nephew of the great St. Columkille, by his sister Cumenia, also called Cuimne. His brothers were Mernoc, Cascene, and Meldal; although that Tract, on the Mothers of the Irish Saints, makes Cuman only to be the mother of the two sons of Degil, i.e. Mernoc and Caisene. However, there was a place in Tyrconnell, called the cell of the seven sons of Degill. The Martyrology of Donegal mentions, that a festival was celebrated on this day, in honour of Bran Beg, of Claenadh, in Ui Faelain, in Magh Laighin. This may be rendered into English, "the plain of Leinster." The present Clane, in the county of Kildare, lies in this plain. We do not know, whether the present holy man was founder of a religious establishment there; but, as he flourished at an early date, it seems altogether probable, he may be regarded as the founder and patron of Clane in the eighth century, there was an abbey, at Clane; for, we read of the death in 777 or 782, of its Abbot Banbhan. A synod, consisting of twenty-six bishops and a great number of abbots, was held there, a.d. 1162. In the thirteenth century, a Franciscan abbey was founded, in the place—it is thought by Gerald Fitz-Maurice, Lord Offaley ; but, this account is not confirmed. It was suppressed, in the reign of King Henry VIII. The ruins yet remain, in an open field, beside the present town of Clane. It was situated within the territory, formerly styled Hui-Faelan, in Mag-Laigen. From the term of Little applied to the present saint, it seems probable, he was of small stature. St. Bran is said by Adamnan, or by his scholiast, to have been interred at Derry, although venerated, on this day, at the church of Claonadh—the ancient name of Clane—in Lagenia. With two other Irish saints, Bran is named, at the 18th of May—or xv. of the June Kalends—in the Kalendarium Drummondiense.
Rev. John O'Hanlon, Lives of the Irish Saints, Volume 5 (Dublin, 1875), 503-4.
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