October 21st is the feast of St. Fintan Munnu, an Irish saint much revered in Argyll and subject of a cult dating back as far as the 7th century.
The mighty Campbell clan effectively chose Munnu as their patron saint and there are several places in Argyll associated with him. The best known of these is Kilmun [St.Munn’s] Church, which overlooks the Holy Loch.
At 7.30 on 21st October, Historic Kilmun will be marking the occasion with a talk about the saint by Gilbert Markus. Gilbert is currently working with the Augusta Lamont Trust to establish a Faith Trail in Cowal; and is the author of Brilliant Flame which features translations of early literature which contain interesting, surprising and amusing stories about Fintan Munnu.
Everyone is welcome. The entry fee of £5 includes refreshments & is in aid of Historic Kilmun.
Munnu arrived in Scotland in 579 AD; and in 597, Munnu, set of to Iona intending to join St Columba’s monastery there. Columba had preceded Munnu at the abbot Sinell’s school on an island in Lough Erne in Ireland.
As he left for Iona, Munnu discovered that Columba had died and had been succeeded by St Baithen, Abbot of Tiree, a monastery founded by Saint Comgall of Bangor, whose school Munnu may also have attended.
Munnu decided to go to Iona anyway and ask St Baithen for membership of the community. Shaken at an unexpected rejection, he asked why he was considered unworthy – a question that brought an answer he cannot have anticipated. St Columba it seems, had literally ‘seen him coming’.
According to Baithen, he had been told by Columba: ‘Baithen remember these words of mine; immediately after my departure from this life, a brother, who is now regulating his youthful age by good conduct, and well versed in sacred studies, named Fintan, of the race of MocuMoie and son of Failchan, will come to you from Ireland [Scotia] and will supplicate to be reckoned among the monks. But it is predetermined by God, that he is to be an abbot presiding over monks, and a guide of souls. Do not therefore let him remain in these islands of ours, but direct him to return in peace to Ireland [Scotia], – that he may there establish a monastery in a part of Leinster not far from the sea, and labour for the good of souls’.
Munnu went on indeed to establish a monastery in Leinster – and not far from the sea – at Taghmon in the south east of Ireland, in Country Wexford. He was granted land there around 597 AD – also the year Baithen told him on Iona of Columba’s prophecy about him.
He must therefore have already founded the monastery of St Munn’s on the Holy Loch, left there for Iona in 597, accepted the foresight of Columba told him there – and set off for Ireland in short order.
These guys didn’t hang about. This talk is going to be fascinating.