St Enda was trained either at St David’s monastery in Pembrokeshire or at S. Ninians’ monastery at Whithorn in Britain and became one of the great founders of Irish monastic life. He founded a monastery on the windswept island of Inish (more) (Great Island) of the Aran Islands in 484 at Killeany (= Cell Enda). This may have been the first monastery in Ireland in the strict sense. The monks lived a hard life of labour, prayer, fasting and reading of the scriptures. They lived in caves, slept on the hard rock and barren earth, in places swept by the fierce Atlantic gales.
Eventually there were many monasteries built around the island which can still be seen but early beehive huts (cells) can also still be found around the island.
St Enda and 120 brethren are said to be buried in the sandy mound that now covers the church itself rescued from the sands. The view out to sea across to the mountains of Connemarra must be one of the most beautiful views of Ireland.
Several saints were trained at Killeany: St Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, St Finnian of Moville, St Brendan the Navigator, St Columba, St Jarlath of Tuam and St Carthach the Elder.