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The Twelve Apostles of Ireland (also known as Twelve Apostles of Erin, Irish: Dhá Aspal Déag na hÉireann) were twelve early Irish monastic saints of the sixth century who studied under St Finian at his famous monastic school Clonard Abbey at Cluain-Eraird (Eraird's Meadow), now Clonard in County Meath.
The twelve saints are grouped together as such in the text Dá apstol décc na hÉrenn ("The Twelve Apostles of Ireland", the modern Irish being Dhá Aspal Déag na hÉireann). The text is preserved in a manuscript belonging to Michael O'Clery, Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale MS 2324–2340, and elsewhere. When the so-called twelve apostles of Ireland are gathered together for a feast in the house of St Finian, a magical flower appears in their midst. It is decided that a voyage to the flower's homeland is to be undertaken by one of them, the choice of person then being determined by casting lots. When however, the lot falls on the old Brendan of Birr, his younger namesake Brendan moccu Altae goes in his stead. Brendan sets out with many companions and undergoes many adventures, much as related in Brendan's Life.
In Early Christian Ireland the druidic tradition was succeeded by the Christian faith. Study of Latin learning and Christian theology in monasteries flourished. Clonard Abbey, situated on the River Boyne in modern County Meath was one of the main monastic schools. During the sixth century, some of the most significant names in the history of Irish Christianity studied at the Clonard monastery. It is said that the average number of scholars under instruction at Clonard was 3,000. Twelve students who studied under St. Finian became known as the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.
Saint Finian of Cluain Iraird, now Clonard in Meath. He died in the year 549. The Twelve Apostles of Erin, as they were known by old Irish writers, studied under him. They are said to have been:
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