St Dermot

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Teampul Diarmada

Irish abbot. This 6th century saint is said to have been of royal blood and a native of Connaught. A famous teacher, poet, writer and preacher in his day, around 530 St Dermot (Diarmiad) founded the great monastery of Inchcleraun (Clothran) on an island in Lough Ree. Wishing to found an oratory far from the day-to-day distractions of civilization, he selected the isolated island associated with the memory of Queen Medbh, Inchcleraun.

Here his fame soon attracted disciples, and is said to have trained St Kiernan of Clonmacnoise. On the island seven churches are traditionally said to have been erected, and the traces of six are still in evidence, including Teampul Diarmada, or the church of St Diarmiad. This oratory, eight feet by seven feet, is said to have been Diarmaid's own church.

The monastic school he founded kept up its reputation for fully six centuries after his death, and the island itself was famous for pilgrimages in pre-Reformation days. An ivory statue of the saint was removed from the island during the Reformation to avoid destruction. He also founded the monastery of Caille-Fochladha, Lough Derryvaragh, Co Westmeath, where there is a holy well dedicated to him.

St Diarmaid's nickname was 'Diarmaid the Just'; he is sometimes confused with an earlier St Justus who was both baptizer and teacher of St Kieran of Clonmacnoise. He was a friend of St Senan, Abbot of Iniscathy and he composed metrical psalters, among which is "Cealtair Dichill".

He died on January 10 at Inchcleraun and his feast is celebrated on that date.

He was buried on the island, which became a centre of pilgrimage. The remains of six of his churches survive there to this day.

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