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Adomnán, St

Adomnán, St (c.628–704). Irish scholar, diplomat, and ninth abbot of Iona. Born into the royal Uí Néill dynasty and educated at Durrow, probably where he taught the future King Aldfrith of Northumbria, he moved in the 670s to Iona, where he wrote his Holy Places, based on a conversation with a Frankish bishop, Arculf. He visited Aldfrith twice (incorporating at least one journey to Abbot Ceolfrith of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow), in 686, as emissary of the king of Brega, and in 688, when he accepted the Roman Easter. Failure to convert his monks perhaps influenced his writing (688–92) a life of his kinsman Columba, the monastery's founder, and his return to Ireland in 692. A second visit there saw negotiation with Irish, Scottish, and Pictish kings, and promulgation of his Law of the Innocents, protecting non-combatants from violence, at the 697 Synod of Birr (Co. Offaly). Adomnán's cult flourished in Ireland and Scotland.

A. E. Redgate

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