Saint Cainnech of Aghaboe is also known as St. Canice , St. Kenneth or St. Kenny and St. Canicus.
He was born as an Irish pict of the Ui-Dalainn clan in 525 (other sources say that it was around 515 or 516) in Keenaght, County Derry, Ireland. His real name was Cainneach moccu Dalánn and his father Lughadh Leithdhearg, a distinguished bard and a professional highly trained, learned poet, was descended from the CorcoDalann or Ui Dalainn, a tribe whose ancestor, Dalann, is traced back to Fergus (King of Ulster), son of Ross, son of Rudhraighe.
Cainneach travelled a lot with his parents Lughadh and Maul until they settled at Glengiven, in what is now County Londonderry.
In 543 sensing a higher calling, Cainnech became a pupil at the monastic school at Clonard. During the sixth century, some of the most significant names in the history of Irish Christianity studied at the Clonard monastery. It is said that the average number of scholars under instruction at Clonard was 3,000. Twelve students who studied under St. Finian became known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland, Cainnech was one of these. It was at Clonard that Cainnech became a friend and companion of St. Comgall and the Anam Cara (Soulfriend) of St Colmcille (St. Columba).
In 544 he was studying in the school of Glasnevin under the tuition of St. Mobhi.
When plague scattered that community, he went as a monk to the monastery of Llancarfan in Glamorganshire in Wales, under Saint Cadoc, where he was ordained a priest in 545.
He left for Rome to obtain the blessing of the reigning pontiff. In 550 he had returned to Glengiven, where he converted his foster-brother, Geal-Breagach, who afterwards assisted him in founding Drumachose, in nearby Limavady.
Cainnech went to Scotland in 565. In Scotland he was known as St. Kenneth, and was closely associated with St. Columba’s missionary work.
Adamnan tells of the arrival of Cainnech, on Iona. St. Columba had a prophecy of a “certain holy and excellent man, who will arrive here among us before evening.” God had provided Cainnech with a safe and calm crossing, even though the sea was perilous and stormy that day. St. Columba received him that evening with all honour and hospitality.
Cainnech built a church in the place now known as Saint Andrews. Cainnech’s name is still recalled in the ruins of an ancient church, Kil-Chainnech on Tiree Island, in a burial ground, Kil-Chainnech, in Iona and Inch Kenneth off Mull.
Cainnech built monastic cells on the island of Ibdon and Eninis, an oratory called Lagan-Kenny on the shores of Loch Laggan (the remains of which are marked on the OS map), and a monastery in Fife on the banks of the Eden.
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