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(5th century),

virgin. Born in County Clare, she is said to have fled to the Aran Islands to escape a family feud. She built a church but was instructed in a vision that this was not to be the ‘place of her resurrection’, but rather another place, where she would find nine white deer grazing. So she came to southern Ireland, founded the church of Kilgobnet (near Dungarvan), and eventually settled at Ballyvourney. There she built a nunnery and was guided by St Abban, who was buried there. She was a skilful bee-keeper and is represented as such by artists. She is said to have prevented a robber from building himself a castle by throwing a stone ball across the glen.

The pilgrimage was approved by indulgences issued by Clement VIII in 1601; it survives today as visits to some buildings and a holy well of uncertain date. The round stone associated with her is still preserved. Feast: 11 February.

The Irish Saints, pp. 192–5; see also W. W. Heist, ‘Vita S. Abbani’ in Vitae Sanctorum Hiberniae (1965), pp. 256–73.

Subjects: Christianity.

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