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St. Enda’s Day…remembering our roots

By Kristina Fri 20th Mar

St. Enda's Day...The site of St. Enda's church and grave on the Aran Islands which marked the start of the 2011 Galway to Omagh cycle.

St. Enda’s Day…The site of St. Enda’s church and grave on the Aran Islands which marked the start of the 2011 Galway to Omagh cycle.

Saturday 21st March is the Feast Day of St. Enda, after whom our club is named.

In 1932, when our club was founded, it was decided to adopt the name and colours of St. Enda’s school in Dublin which was founded by Padraig Pearse, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising.

Pearse established the bi-lingual school in 1908 to help preserve Irish heritage and the Irish language. As a cultural nationalist educated by the Christian Brothers, Pearse believed that language was intrinsic to the identity of a nation. Sadly, following his execution in 1916, the school eventually closed its doors in 1935, although the Hermitage in Rathfarnham where the school was based, still remains as a museum dedicated to the St. Enda’s School founder.

The school was named after St. Enda of Aran, a young Irish warrior who turned to peaceful ways.

St. Enda (d. ca. 530), like so many Irish saints, has a colorful story. As a young warrior in the West of Ireland, he was returning from a particularly bloody battle when he stopped at the convent where his sister, Fanchea, was abbess. Fanchea reprimanded him for bringing the revelry of his war-band to the convent, where it disturbed the sisters. She rebuked him as well, telling him he had blood on his hands and should repent.

Enda replied, somewhat flippantly, that he would gladly give up war-making if he could marry one of Fanchea’s pretty young nuns. To his surprise, Fanchea agreed. However, she tricked him in this, because she knew that the nun she chose would soon die of illness. When the nun did die, before Enda was able to marry her, Fanchea brought him in to look upon her body and meditate, thoughtfully and carefully at last, upon death. The brazen warrior Enda, unafraid to kill in battle, when forced to look at death in the peaceful setting of the monastery, understood the horror of his previous way of life and repented.

Enda became a priest and, eventually, a founder of many monasteries, including Killeaney on the isle of Aran, off the coast of Galway. This island would come to be known as a “second Mount Athos,” in reference to the famous Greek island-monastery. Enda died an old man, renowned for his holiness, having long ago given up the sword in exchange for the cross, in his little rock cell by the surging Atlantic Ocean. For further background on St. Enda, click here

In July 2011, to mark the beginning of the Galway to Omagh cycle fund-raiser, a group of cyclists visited St. Enda’s grave on the Aran Island as a symbolic gesture to the man our club is named after. See our photos from the cycle here.

2011 Galway to Omagh Cycle photos on Facebook here

By Kristina Fri 20th Mar

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