kids encyclopedia robot

Abbot of Iona facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Columba at Bridei's fort
Iona's first abbot, Saint Columba, before the fortress of the Pictish king

The Abbot of Iona was the head of Iona Abbey during the Middle Ages and the leader of the monastic community of Iona, as well as the overlord of scores of monasteries in both Scotland and Ireland, including Durrow, Kells and, until the Synod of Whitby, Lindisfarne. It was one of the most prestigious clerical positions in Dark Age Europe, and was visited by kings and bishops of the Picts, Franks and English. The Ionan abbots also had the status of Comarba of Colum Cille, i.e. the successors of that Saint, Columba.

Iona's position as head of the Columban network (familia) of churches declines over time, with abbots based at Derry, Raphoe, Kells and Dunkeld. In Scotland, the abbots of Dunkeld ruled much of central Scotland in the 11th century, and functioned as some of the most important politicians of northern Britain. One of the abbots, Crínán, married Bethóc ingen Maíl Coluim, the daughter of King Máel Coluim II, and became the progenitor of the so-called House of Dunkeld, which ruled Scotland until the later thirteenth century. Dunkeld became a bishopric, and the monks based at Inchcolm Abbey became Augustinians.

At the beginning of the thirteenth century, the monks of Iona adopted the Benedictine rule. Iona was re-endowed in 1203 by Raghnall mac Somhairle, son of Somerled, king of Argyll and the Isles.

List of abbots of Iona to 891

Early abbots of Iona
Incumbent Until Citation(s) Notes
Colum Cille mac Fedelmtheo Died 9 June 597
Baithéne mac Brénaind Died 9 June 598
Lasrén mac Feradaig Died 16 September 605
Fergno Britt mac Faílbi Died 2 March 623 Known primarily as Virgno
Ségéne mac Fiachnaí Died 12 August 652
Suibne moccu Fir Thrí Died 11 January 657
Cumméne Find Died 24 February 669
Fáilbe mac Pípáin Died 22 March 679
Adomnán mac Rónáin Died 23 September 704
Conamail mac Faílbi Deposed(?) 707 Died 11 September 710
Dúnchad mac Cinn Fáelad Deposed(?) June 713
(restored 713 x 716)
Died 25 May 717
Dorbbéne mac Altaíni Died 28 October 713 Also called Dorbbéne Foto
Fáelchú mac Dorbbéni Deposed/resigned 722 Died 724
Fedelmid Deposed(?) before 722 Died 759
Cilléne Fota Died 726
Cilléne Droichtech Died 752
Sléibíne mac Congaile Resigned before 766 Died 767
Suibne Resigned 771 Died 801
Bresal mac Ségéni Died 801
Connachtach Died 802
Cellach mac Congaile resigned 814 Died 815
Diarmait daltae Daigri Resigned 831 Died in or after 831 Blathmac mac Flainn was martyred on Iona in 825.
Indrechtach ua Fínnachta Resigned before 854 Died 854
Cellach mac Ailello Died 865 Cellach had been abbot of Kildare since 852
Feradach mac Cormaic Died 880
Flann mac Maíle Dúin Died 20 April 891

List of comarbai Coluim Cille and abbots of Iona, 891–1099

During the abbacies of Diarmait and Indrechtach, almost certainly because of Viking attacks, the relics of Columba were moved to other monastic houses in the Columban familia, such as Kells, Raphoe and Dunkeld. The position of abbot on Iona ceases to have the same significance within the Columban monastic familia, and many comarbai are not based on the island.

Comarbai Coluim Cille to 1099
Incumbent Chief monastery Until Citation(s) Notes
Máel Brigte mac Tornáin Iona/Armagh Died 22 February 927 Máel Brigte had been abbot of Armagh from 883, and may not have spent much time on Iona
Dubthach mac Dubáin Raphoe Died 938
Cáenchomrac Iona Died 947 Was definitely abbot of Iona, but may not have been coarb of Coluim Cille
Robartach Raphoe Died 954
Dub Dúin ua Stepháin unknown Died 959
Dub Scoile mac Cináeda unknown Died 964
Mugrón Iona Died 980/81 Styled "coarb of Colum Cille in Ireland and Scotland"
Máel Ciaráin ua Maigne Iona Martyred 24 December 986 Killed by Vikings
Dúnchad Ua Robacháin Raphoe Died 989
Dub dá Leithe mac Cellaig unknown Died June 998 Dub dá Leithe had been abbot of Armagh from 965
Máel Brigte mac Rímeda Iona Died 1005 Was definitely abbot of Iona, but may not have been coarb of Coluim Cille
Muiredach mac Crícháin Raphoe Resigned 1007 Died 1011; Muiredach was also fer léigind of Armagh
Ferdomnach Kells Died 1008
Máel Muire Ua hUchtáin Kells Died 1009
Flandabra Iona Died 1025 Styled "coarb of Iona"
Máel Eóin Ua Toráin Derry Died 1025 Styled "coarb of Derry"
Máel Muire ua hUchtáin Kells/Raphoe Died 1040 Máel Muire was abbot of both Kells and Raphoe
Murchad mac Flainn ua Máel Sechlainn Kells (?) Deposed (?) 1057 Murchad was abbot of Conard from 1055, as well as briefly king of Mide in 1073; his most likely Columban holding would be Kells.
Robartach mac Ferdomnaig Kells Died 1057
Gilla Críst Ua Maíl Doraid unknown Died 1062 Gilla Críst was called "coarb of Colum Cille in Ireland and Scotland".
Mac meic Báethéne Iona Died 1070
Domnall mac Robartaig Kells Resigned before 1098
Donnchad mac meic Máenaig Iona Died 1099

List of comarbai Coluim Cille at Kells and Derry

None of the following comarbai Coluim Cille are based at Iona, but rather Kells and Derry.

Comarbai Coluim Cille from 1099 to the 1220s
Incumbent Chief monastery Until Citation(s) Notes
Ferdomnach Ua Clucáin Kells Died 1114
Máel Brigte mac Rónáin Kells Died 1117
Conaing Ua Beigléighinn Kells Died 1128
Gilla Adamnáin Ua Coirthnén Kells Gilla Adamnáin was a priest of Durrow who later became abbot of Kells.
Gilla Meic Liac mac Diarmata Derry Archbishop from 1137 Gilla Meic Liac (Gelasius) had been abbot of Derry since 1121, and was consecrated archbishop of Armagh in 1137; he died on 27 March 1174.
Muiredach Ua Clucáin Kells Died 1154
Flaithbertach Ua Brolcháin Derry Died 1175
Gilla Meic Liac Ua Branáin Derry Resigned 1198
Gilla Críst Ua Cernaig Derry Died 1210
Fonachtan Ua Branáin Derry Died 1220
Flann Ua Brolcháin Derry Deposed 1220
Muichertach Ua Milliuc Derry Died

List of Benedictine abbots of Iona

Iona Abbey. Panorama
Panoramic view
Abbots of Iona in the Benedictine era
Incumbent Period Citation(s) Notes
Cellach fl. 1203–04
Amhalgaid Ó Fearghail fl. 1204 c. 1204 the house of Derry installs Amhalgaid in opposition to Cellach
Fionnlagh fl. c. 1320
Peadar Died or resigned 1357
Finghuine mac Ghille-Brìghde MacFhionghain c. 1357–1405
Eóin mac Gofraidh MacAlasdair 1405–c.1421
Dominic mac Ghille-Coinnich 1421–1444 x 1465
Aonghas mac Aonghais postulated 1465 Aonghas was son of Aonghas Óg.
Eóin MacFhionghain 1467–1498 Eóin was son of Lachlan MacFhionghain.

List of abbot-commendators

Abbot-commendators of Iona
Incumbent Period Citation(s) Notes
Eóin Caimbeul I 1499–1510
George Hepburn 1510–1513 Died at the battle of Flodden, 9 September 1513
Eóin Caimbeul II 1514–1532
Ailean MacGill-Eathain provided 1526
Seumas Sdíbhard crown nomination 1529 A kinsman of the earl of Lennox, he was abbot of Dryburgh.
Fearchar Mac Eachainn 1528–1544 x 1546
Ruairidh MacGill-Eathain 1544–1552 x 1553
Ruairidh MacAlasdair 1545–1546
Ailean Mac an Toisic 1546
John Hay postulate 1547
Pádraig MacGill-Eathain 1547–1552
Alexander Gordon 1553–1562
Eóin Caimbeul III 1557–1560 x 1562
Pádraig MacGill-Eathain (again) 1560–1565
Séon Carsuel 1565–1572
Lachlan MacGill-Eathain c. 1567 Despite Scottish Reformation, he was suspected of having received license from Mary, Queen of Scots, to go to the Pope to receive the abbey and the Bishopric of the Isles, but denied the allegation and renounced his claims to Carsuel.
Eóin Caimbeul III (again) 1572–1581
Alasdair Caimbeul 1581–1615 The abbey was annexed to the bishopric of the Isles on 11 August 1615; Alasdair Caimbeul was still alive on 30 September 1619.
kids search engine
Abbot of Iona Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.