Co. Cork Ireland

St. Gobnait, Balleyvourney

The site of the convent established in the 6th Century by St. Gobnait, patron saint of bees and beekeepers. A place of reverence.

I found this to be a powerful place, a place to tune in deeply with reverence.

St. Gobnait was born in the 5th or 6th century. After fleeing a family fued, an angel appeared to her and told her to seek out a place where she would find 9 white deer grazing, that this would be ‘the place of her resurrection’. She wandered over much of Ireland, until one day she found the 9 white deer, overlooking the River Sullane just outside of Balleyvourney where her sanctuary now stands. She founded the convent there and was placed as abbess by St. Abbán. 

Photo of the church at St Gobnait, Balleyvourney
The more modern church, and ruins of the convent at St Gobnait.

Bees were held in high esteem by the Celts as according to folklore the soul left the body as a bee or a butterfly.  Gobnait became a beekeeper and developed a lifelong affinity with them. She dedicated her days to helping the sick and is credited with saving the people at Ballyvourney from the plague, as well as healing one of her sick nuns using her own honey.

There are many folklore stories crediting Gobnait and her bees with healing and miraculous events. One story tells of how she directed her bees against cattle raiders, forcing them to flee and abandon the attempt.

I love the stained glass of Harry Clarke, his work seems to vibrate with a special quality. There is a beautiful window by him at University College Cork showing Gobnait in deep royal blue robes, surrounded by bees. 

Especially in these days when bees are under such stress from human actions (environmental toxins and EMFs – 4G, 5G, strong wifi – all are horrendous to bees), we need St. Gobnait more than ever – in our hearts, to direct our actions & intentions to activities which support bees and the natural world.

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