St Ciaran was born on Cape Clear Island Co Cork and may have been a hermit and built an oratory there. He probably lived before the time of St Patrick. It is likely that he travelled abroad for his training and is said to have been a bishop. He founded several monasteries in Co Kilkenny. The early site (8/9C) at Kilkieran in Co Kilkenny has three remarkable crosses besides a holy well. Two crosses still retain their ‘caps’. These may represent the dome of the church of the Holy Sepulcre – and therefore a symbol of the triumph of the Cross.
His most famous foundation however was that of Saighir (Seir Kieran) in Co Offaly. He is regarded as one of the twelve apostles of Ireland. The big question is how early was he functioning and what was his connection to the early influx of monks into Ireland from the continent and from further afield? These are huge questions which attract ongoing questions.
At Saighir the holy tree stands proudly in the middle of a road defiant of the progress of modernity. It is still covered with ‘clouties’ (rags) as a witness to the many prayers that are said there and at the holy well in the field nearby.
Someone called Kieran evidently visited the region of Kintyre in Scotland. There is a Kilkerran on Kintyre, a Kilkieran on the island of Islay, and a Kilcheran on the island of Lismore. It is highly unlikely to be the Kieran of Clonmacnoise, for he died very young. There may have been several monks who took the name of Kieran. The monk in Scotland could be one we have never heard of.