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Ua Gormáin, Máel Muire [Marianus O'Gorman]locked

(d. 1181?)
  • Seán Duffy

Ua Gormáin, Máel Muire [Marianus O'Gorman] (d. 1181?), abbot of Knock, may possibly be equated with the Máel Muire Ua Dúnáin, abbot of the same Augustinian house, dedicated to St Peter and St Paul, who died in 1181. He is remembered as author of Félire húi Gormáin ('The martyrology of Ua Gormáin') which survives in Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MSS 5100–5104, fols. 124–97, transcribed about 1630 by Michael O'Clery, one of the four masters. Little is known of his life. He was a member of a prominent ecclesiastical family, probably related to the Óengus Ua Gormáin, abbot of Bangor, who died in Lismore in 1123, to the Máel Cáemgein Ua Gormáin, former abbot of Termonfeckin, who died as master of the monastic school of Louth in 1164, and to the Flann Ua Gormáin, chief lector of Armagh, who died in 1174 described as 'a learned sage, versed in sacred and profane philosophy, after having spent twenty-one years of study in France and England and twenty other years in directing and governing the schools of Ireland' (AFM, s.a. 1174).

The preface to Ua Gormáin's martyrology states that it was written after Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair became high-king of Ireland (in 1166) but before the death of the archbishop of Armagh, Gilla Meic Liac (in 1174). John Colgan, in his Acta sanctorum … Hiberniae of 1645, added that it was written c.1167. The martyrology does, however, contain a record of the feast days of Archbishop Gilla Meic Liac and of Gilla Mo Chaidbeo, superior of the abbey of St Peter and St Paul at Armagh, both of whom died in March 1174, though these may possibly have been later insertions.

Ua Gormáin explains in the preface his motivation in compiling the martyrology as being to secure a place in heaven for himself and for anyone who sings it, and also because he is unhappy that the earlier and better-known martyrology of Óengus the Culdee (Félire Oengusso) has included so few of the saints of Ireland and of elsewhere and arranges them frequently under the wrong feast day. His own martyrology, which is in verse and in Irish, consists of 2780 lines in the strict metre known as rinnaird mór, and is important because it contains the names and feast days of almost as many Irish saints as non-Irish saints (a total of about 3450 persons, biblical, continental, English, British, and Irish). It is therefore an important record of the early Irish church, and since its object was to bring Irish hagiology and the Irish church calendar into greater harmony with those of the rest of Christendom, it may be regarded as a product of the reforms then taking place in the Irish church.

The martyrology of Donegal (Félire na naomh nÉrennach), the last and largest of the calendars of Irish saints, places Máel Muire Ua Gormáin's own feast day at 3 July, though there is no record of his formal canonization by the apostolic see.


  • Félire húi Gormáin / The martyrology of Gorman, ed. and trans. W. Stokes, HBS, 9 (1895)
  • J. F. Kenney, The sources for the early history of Ireland (1929)
  • J. Hennig, ‘Studies in the Latin texts of the Martyrology of Tallaght, of Féilire Oengusso, and of Féilire húi Gormain’, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 69C (1970), 45–112
  • D'Arbois de Jubainville, ‘Le martyrologie d'O'Gorman’, Analecta Bollandiana, 13 (1894), 193–6
  • M. O'Clery, The martyrology of Donegal: a calendar of the saints of Ireland, ed. J. H. Todd and W. Reeves, trans. J. O'Donovan (1864)


  • Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels, MS 5100–5104, fols. 124–97
Henry Bradshaw Society
J. O'Donovan, ed. and trans., , 7 vols. (1848–51); 2nd edn (1856); 3rd edn (1990)