How Saint Modomnoc Brought the Bees to Ireland

17 February 08 | Posted in Animals, Saints

bee-hive.bmpThe man who became Saint Modhomhnoc (or Modomnoc) came from the royal line of Ui Neill of Ulster.

He wanted to be a priest and so he left Ireland and went to be educated under the great Saint David at Mynyw (Menevia, now Saint David’s) Monastery in Wales. All those who resided in the community were expected to share in the manual work as well as the study and worship; Modomnoc was given charge of the bees and he loved it. He cared for them tenderly, keeping them in straw skeps in a special sheltered corner of the garden, where he planted the kinds of flowers bees loved best.

Every time they swarmed, he captured the swarm very gently and lovingly and set up yet another hive. He talked to the bees as he worked among them and they buzzed around his head in clouds. It was if they were responding to his soothing words.

His years of study ended, and Modomnoc had to return to Ireland to begin his priestly ministry. While he was glad to be returning home, he knew he would miss his bees. On the day of his departure, he said good-bye to the Abbott, the monks, and his fellow students. Then he went down to the garden to bid his little friends farewell.

They came out in answer to his voice and never was there such a buzzing and excitment among the rows of hives. The monks stood a distance watching the commotion in wonder. “You’d think the bees knew,” they said. “You’d think they knew that Modomnoc was going away.”

Modomnoc resolutely turned and went down and boarded the ship. When they were about three miles from shore, Modomnoc saw what looked like a little black cloud in the sky in the direction of the Welsh coast. He watched it curiously as as it came closer, he saw to his amazement that it was a swarm of bees. It was a giantic swarm – all the bees from the monastery hives followed him out to sea!

Twice Modomnoc had the boat turn back and brought the bees back to their garden.  On the third time his boat set sail Modomnoc prayed ferverently that the bees would stay in their pleasant garden rather than risk their lives at sea. But, for the third time, he saw the black cloud rise over the coast of Wales. This time, the boat did not turn back. Resigned to the will of God and the persistence of his faithful friends, he coaxed the swarm into a sheltered corner of the boat.  There, much to the relief of the sailors, they quietly remained throughout the voyage.

When Modomnoc landed in Ireland, he set up a church at a place called Bremore, near Balbriggan, in County Dublin, and there he established the bees in a happy garden just like the one they had in Wales. The place is known to this day as “the Church of the Beekeeper.”

My thanks to Catholic Ireland and Irish Culture and Customs for this lovely story.

One Response to “How Saint Modomnoc Brought the Bees to Ireland”

  1. Imelda Power Says:

    A friend told me about Modomnoc

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