Scattery Island

abstract: Story collected by a student at Synge, Inagh school (Glennageer, Co. Clare) (no informant identified).

Original reference: 0612/3/6

Loading...School Synge, Inagh [Vol. 0612, Chapter 0003]

County The Schools' Manuscript Collection : County Clare Schools

transcribed at


Scattery Island [duchas:4873677]

Inis Cathaigh, or Scattery Island as it is now called, has derived its name not from the founder of the monastery, whose round tower is such a conspicuous object, but from a terrible monster, the catha, which the Saint banished from the island. The island lies in the Shannon two miles or so south of Kilrush.

It is a low island of about 179 acres and contains a most interesting collection of ancient ecclesiastical buildings.

St Senan, who, according to the legend banished the monster from the island, was born at Maghlacha, in the barony of Clonderlaw, Co. Clare, about the year 488. It is said that his birth was predicted by St. Patrick, who said to the people of Corcobaschind,  a district on the southern side of the Shannon, "A being loved by God and man, shall spring from your race, while from his infancy, he shall be enriched by Divine graces.
His name shall be Senan.

During his boyhood and youth Senan showed, by working many miracles

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that he was specially chosen by God for a great work. Accordingly, he adopted the religious life and studied principally at Kilnamanagh, in Ossory, under a holy abbot called Natalis.

Soon he became renowned for his sanctity and disciples flocked to him from all sides. With the blessing, therefore, of his Superiors, he betook himself to Enniscorthy where he founded a monastery. When this monastery was firmly established out saint paid visits to Rome, Gaul and Britain, and on his return to his native land founded several monasteries in various places throughout Ireland. Towards the end of his life he was taken by an angel to a mountain and was shown an island in the Shannon. This, he was told, was to be the place of his resurrection, and with the assistance of God, he was to banish the monster who held possession of it.

Then by means of the same angelic assistance, Senan was transported to a hill on the island, which afterwards was called Ard na n-Aingel - the hill

Scattery Island [duchas:4873679]

of the angel. Advancing from this hill, Senan put the monster to flight, and banished him from the island forever.

The monastery which he built on Scattery Island soon became renowned any many saints, such as St. Ciaran of Clonmacnois came to visit him there.

Senan died while on a visit to his first teacher and master.

His holy remains were brought back to Scattery Island and buried there with great pomp and ceremony.

After Senan's death, the monastery continued to flourish, though, owing to it exposed position, it suffered severely from the Norsemen of Limerick and from the Danes.

In 972 Magnus, son of Harold violated its sanctuary by carrying off Imhar of Limerick, who had sought refuge there.

The Danes of Dublin plundered it in 1057 and those of Limerick in 1176.

Inspite of these and many other disasters, the monastery survivied to the time of Elizabeth, when it was completely destroyed. Into the subsequent history

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of the island, and the disputes of its various owners, we cannot enter here.

The round tower is the most conspicuous of the ruins to be seen on the island. Save for the top of its conical cap, it is practically intact. It is about 120 feet high, and has an internal diameter of 8 feet. Its door is on a level with the ground. East of the round tower is situated the Cathedral. It is a long building 68 feet 4 inches by 27 feet 7 inches.  The west doorway is of the usual lintelled type, with inclinded jambs, The north and south walls have pointed doorways and in the north wall are three Gothic windows.

Near the cathedral is a little church called the Oratóry (?). It has a nave 23 feet 3 inches by 12 feet 6 inches and a chancel 8 feet 9 inches by 10 feet 4 inches and probably dates from the eleventh century. The caiseal which surrounds thes buildings is in a fair state of preservation in parts.

The churches outside the caiseal  are Teampall Senáin which is a church somewhat bigger than the Oratory

Scattery Island [duchas:4873681]

There is an enclosure near its western gable which is supposed to contain St. Senan's tomb and also an inscribed slab with the inscriptions

"Ór Do Moinahch and Ór Do Moenach Ahite Mogroin
A prayer for Moenach, tutor of Mogron"

On Ard na nAingel where the angel place Senan, is a church called Teampall Cnuic na nAingel. There is a church called Teampall na Marbh - Church of the Dead near the east strand, and close to it are the remains of a 16th century castle.
Among its antiquities which have been dug up on the island are two beautiful silver brooches and a silver candlestick.

Origin information
Glennageer, Co. Clare
Date created:
Physical description
p. 342-346
Volume 0612
Collected as part of the Schools' Folklore scheme, 1937-1938, under the supervision of teacher Máirtín Flynn.
local legends   linked data (afset)
Local lore, place-lore--Seanchas áitiúil, dinnseanchas
School location
Story location
Scattery IslandInis CathaighScattery IslandKilrushMoyartaClare
University College Dublin. National Folklore Collection UCD .

Original reference: 0612/3/6

Suggested credit
"Scattery Island"in "The Schools' Manuscript Collection," held by University College Dublin, National Folklore Collection UCD. © University College Dublin. Digital content by: Glenbeigh Records Management, published by UCD Library, University College Dublin <>
Collected as part of the Schools' Folklore scheme, 1937-1938, under the supervision of teacher Máirtín Flynn.
Supported by funding from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Ireland), University College Dublin, and the National Folklore Foundation (Fondúireacht Bhéaloideas Éireann), 2014-2016.
Record source
Metadata creation date: 2014/2016 — Metadata created by Fiontar, Dublin City University, in collaboration with the National Folklore Collection UCD and UCD Library. Original Fiontar metadata converted into MODS by UCD Library.

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