Detail of the seventh stained glass window in a series depicting the life of St. Finian in the Church of St. Finian at Clonard. The inscription reads: Saint Finian imparts his blessing to twelve apostles of Ireland.
The Twelve Apostles of Ireland (also known as Twelve Apostles of Erin) were twelve early Irish monastic saints of the sixth century who studied under St Finian at his famous monastic school Clonard Abbey at Cluain-Eraird (Eraird’s Meadow), now Clonard in County Meath.
The Twelve Apostles of Erin, as they were known by old Irish writers, are said to have been:
St Finian – Finnen of Cluain Iraird, now Clonard in Meath. He died in the year 522.
Saint Ciarán of Saighir (Seir-Kieran) – Ciaran of Cluain Mic Nois, now Clonmacnoise, on the Shannon, in the barony of Garrycastle, and the King’s County, died in the year 549.
Saint Brendan of Birr (Brenainn of Birra) – St. Brenainn, or Brendan, of Birra, now Birr, or Parsonstown, in the King’s Country. He died on the 29th of November 571.
Saint Brendan of Clonfert – Brenainn, the son of Finnloga, the patron saint of the see of Clonfert, in County Galway, was born in 484, and died in 577 aged 94.
Saint Columba of Terryglass – Colum Mac Crimthainn, was abbot of Tir-da-glas, now Terryglass, in the barony of Lower Ormond, in the county of Tipperary, and died in 552, the same year as St. Finen of Clonard.
Saint Columba of Iona (Colum Cille) – St. Columbkille was born in the year 521, and died in the year 597, aged 76. Columba was an outstanding figure among the Gaelic missionary monks who some of his advocates claim introduced Christianity to the Kingdom of the Picts during the early medieval period.
Saint Mobhí of Glasnevin – Mobhi Clarainech, patron of Glasnaidhen, now Glasnevin, near Dublin. He died on 12th of October 545
Saint Ruadhain of Lorrha – Ruadhain of Lothra – St. Ruadain, the patron of Lothra, now Lorrah, in County Tipperary. He died on the 15th of April 584.
Saint Senan of Iniscathay (Scattery Island)
Saint Ninnidh the Saintly of Lough Erne – Ninnadh the Pious, the patron of the parish of Inis Muighe Samh, now Inismacsaint, in the north-west of County Fermanagh. He was alive in 530 but the year of his death is uncertain.
Saint Lasserian mac Nadfraech – Molaisi, the son of Nadfraech, he was the brother of Aengus, the first Christian king of Munster and died in 570.
Saint Canice of Aghaboe – Cainnech Mac h-Ui Dalann, the patron of Aghaboe in County Laois, who died in 599 at the age of 84.
Finnen of Magh Bile – Finnen of Magh Bile, now Movilla, in County Down. He died in the year 576.