Saint Gobnata was born in Co.Clare at the end of the fifth,
or the beginning of the sixth century. Later she fled to the Aran
Islands to escape from some enemy. An angel appeared to her one day and
told her to leave that place and to keep walking until she found nine
white deer. She saw three white deer at Clondrohid, Co. Cork, and
decided to follow them. Then at Ballymakeera, she saw six white deer.
Finally, at Ballyvourney she came upon nine white deer grazing in a
wood. There she was given land for a women’s monastery by her spiritual
Father Saint Abban of Kilabban, Co. Laois (March 16), and he installed
her as abbess. Excavations in 1951 proved that indeed there had been an
early Christian settlement on the site.
Saint Gobnata was renowned
for her gift of healing, and there is a story of how she kept the
plague from Ballyvourney. She is also famous for her skill as a
One day, Saint Gobnata was watching from a hill
overlooking a valley as an invading chieftain and his army came through,
destroying crops and driving off cattle. She sent the bees to attack
them, and they were thrown into such confusion that they left without
The holy virgin Saint Gobnata fell asleep in the
Lord on February 11. The exact year of her death is not known, but it
probably occurred in the sixth century. Although she is regarded as the
patron saint of Ballyvourney, she is venerated throughout southern
Ireland. There are churches dedicated to her in Waterford and Kerry, for
example, and she is also revered in Scotland.