News / Events

Feastday of Tuán son of Cairell

1 Apr 2021

You might expect that some of the stories about saints for the 1st of April would be hard to swallow, and in this respect Ireland does not disappoint: this is the feastday of Tuán son of Cairell. According to the late Old Irish Tale of Tuán, he was one of the first group of settlers in Ireland after the Flood, and then lived on through subsequent ages by regenerating in various shapes: stag, boar, cormorant, salmon. The salmon was cooked and eaten by the queen of Ulster, who bore Tuán again as a human child: when he grew up, he became a Christian and told his story to various saints. ‘Every history and genealogy in Ireland derives from Tuán son of Cairell.’ Ireland may be the only Christian country with a reincarnated saint. 

Tuán is listed as a saint for the 1st of April in the Martyrology of Tallaght. For a translation of the Tale of Tuán, see J. T. Koch and J. Carey, The Celtic Heroic Age (4th ed. 2003), pp. 223-5; for an edition, see J. Carey, ‘Scél Tuáin meic Chairill’, Ériu 35 (1984) 93-111. 


Roinn na Sean- agus na Meán-Ghaeilge

Department of Early and Medieval Irish

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