St Maelruann may have taken this name when he took the tonsure (‘one who is tonsured of Rhuadan’) was professed at St Rhuadan’s monastery at Lorrha Co Tiperary. He founded the monastery of Tallaght south west of Dublin ‘bringing with him relics of the holy martyrs and virgins’, as it says in the ’Martyrology of Tallact.
He was a leading figure in the movement for monastic reform called ‘Celi de’. From what documents we have ‘typical concerns included the importance of daily recitation of the Psalter, of self-restraint and forbearance from indulgences in bodily desires and of separation from worldly concerns’.
Against the practices of earlier Irish monastic movements, Máel Ruain is cited as forbidding his monks to go on an overseas pilgrimage, preferring instead to foster communal life in the monastery. He may have been a bishop. One of his disciples in the community was Oengus the Culdee.