Dúnchad mac Cinn Fáelad

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Saint Dúnchad mac Cinn Fáelad (also called Dunchadh, Dunichad, Duncad, and Donatus) was the eleventh abbot of Iona (707–717). His feast day is on May 25.


He was the son of Cenn Fáelad, and grandson of Máel Coba, of the Cenél Conaill. While most early abbots of Iona were members of Cenél Conaill they came from minor branches of the kindred, but Dúnchad came from the ruling line, grandson of one High King of Ireland and the nephew of two others, Cellach and Conall.

He is first heard of as Abbot of Killochuir on the coast of southeastern Ulster (perhaps Killough, County Down).

He later become Abbot of Iona, although there is considerable dispute about this matter. The Annals of Ulster first mention him in that capacity in the year 706; but Conamail of Iona is said to have been the abbot of Iona from 704 through 710. It is possible that Dunchad served as a coadjutor (or principatum tenuit) of Conamail of Iona. He himself may have been elected in opposition to Abbot Conamail, while Dorbbéne of Iona in 713 and Fáelchú of Iona in 716 may have been elected to oppose Dúnchad.

It has also been suggested that he may have been elected in a power-struggle between factions of monks at Iona at the time who disagreed about the dating of Easter and the use of the tonsure. It has also been suggested that at least some of these people may have been coadjustors, priors, or possibly even bishops at Iona at the time.

The final argeement about the dating of Easter on Iona took place at the instance of St. Ecgberht of Northumbria, a priest who had been educated in Ireland, who was successful in persuading the community to abandon the Celtic Easter and tonsure.

When Dúnchad died in 717, Fáelchú continued in his position. In the same year of Dúnchad's death, King Nechtan mac Derile, the Gaelic ruler of the Picts, allegedly expelled the Ionan clergy from Pictland.

Succession box:
Dúnchad mac Cinn Fáelad
Preceded by:
Abbot of Iona
Succeeded by:
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