St. Modomnoc – Patron Saint of Bees and beekeeping

Published on April 12, 2022

St. Modomnoc lived in the first half of the 6th century. He was a descendant from the clan of O`Neil from Ulster. Modomnoc wishes to serve God as a priest and went to Wales to receive a good education and training.

He studied at St. David’s Seminary, St. David being the patron saint of Wales. At the seminary, Seminarians undertook different responsibilities or charges such as manual labour, church singing or growing vegetables. Modomnoc took charge of beekeeping. He looked after the seminary’s bees well by making straw beehives and locating them in a suitable place in the garden which was full of flowers grown by himself for his little charges.

The bees flew in swarms around his head, never once stinging him. At the end of the summer, the bees produced so much honey Modomnoc needed helpers to deliver it to the monastery. All the other monks avoided the bees in the garden, several were stung if they accidently approached the hives.

Some years later, Modomnoc returned to Ireland to start his priestly ministry. The abbot at St. David’s gave the bees to Modomnoc and he made a shelter for them on his boat.

When the boat arrived in Ireland, St. Molomnoc erected a church near Balbriggan in Dublin. To this day that spot is know as “the beekeepers church” It is now known and accepted that this was the 1st time bees came to Ireland.

St Modomnoc later served as bishop of Ossory and ended his days, in around 550, as a hermit in Tybroughney known then as “Tibraghny”. At this site he founded a Monastery, the ruins of which are evident today. It can be assumed that the saint is buried here in the graveyard amongst the many burial sites there. The site is opposite Tybroughney house and down around 40 meters from the road.

Kilkenny County Council erected a replica of a beehive in December 2001, made from copper and coated in black, in recognition to St. Modomnoc and is a familiar landmark located at the slip road to the N24 opposite to the entrance to Piltown Engineering.