St Moninne, also known a Darerca or Bline one of Ireland’s earliest women saints, founded and was the abbess of a community of hermits which initially consisted of 8 virgins and a widow with a baby.
St Moninne is associated with the area of Slieve Gullion and the parishes of Killeavy (Upper, Middle and Lower) in South Armagh. She may also have had a significant role in starting the monastic movement in Ireland.
Patrick Duffy explains.
Links with Patrick, Brigid and Ibar
Founded by St Patrick in the mid-5th century the church in Armagh soon developed on native monastic lines with abbots who were at first also bishops. Moninne’s original name was Darerca and she seems to belong to the very early period of Christianity in Ireland. She is said to have received the veil from St Patrick and to have founded a community of eight virgins and a widow with a baby near Faughart, north Louth. She fostered the widow’s baby, Luger, and he later became a bishop. She moved, perhaps with her whole community, to a place near Begerin in Co. Wexford to be under St Ibar for counsel and stayed there for some time. She later came back to Cill Shléibhe Cuillin (Killeavy, South Armagh) and settled in a remote spot in the shadow of Slieve Gullion. She is also associated with St Brigid, having stayed with her at Kildare on her way to and from Wexford.