It is believed that Finnian was born near the present town of New Ross in Ireland. St. Abban baptized him, and at an early age he was placed under the care of Bishop Fortchern of Trim.

Sources say Finnian studied for a time at the austere monastic center of Martin of Tours in Gaul. He later went to Wales and continued his studies at the monastery of Cadoc the Wise, at Llancarfan in Glamorganshire and remained there for years. Finian made copies of Rome’s classics and of St. Jerome’s Vulgate.

After a stay in Wales of thirty years, according to the Codex Salmanticensis, he returned to his native land. Having been granted a site by the king, he founded a monastic community on Skellig Michael, off the coast of Kerry. From there, he went to St Brigid’s monastery at Kildare. Around 520, he felt divinely led to Cluain Eraird (Clonard, County Meath). There, he built a little cell and a church of clay and wattle, and entered on a life of study, mortification, and prayer.

The fame of his learning and sanctity soon spread, and scholars of all ages flocked from everywhere to his monastic retreat. Finnian established a monastery modelled on the practices of Welsh monasteries, and based on the traditions of the Desert Fathers and the study of Scripture. The rule of Clonard was known for its strictness and asceticism.

His students brought the seeds of Finnian’s knowledge in many other places in Ireland and abroad.

Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: Finnian of Clonard – Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core. (n.d.). Infogalactic. Retrieved Dec. 1, 2020, from