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St. Dunchadh

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Confessor, Abbot of Iona ; date of b. unknown, d. in 717. He was the son of Ceannfaeladh and grandson of Maelcobha of the house of Conall Gulban. He is first heard of as Abbot of Killochuir on the coast of S.E. Ulster (perhaps Killough, County Down). There is considerable dispute as to the year in which he became Abbot of Hy (Iona) . The "Annals of Ulster" first mention him in that capacity under the year 706 (really 707); but Conamhail was abbot from 704 to 710. It may be that St. Dunchadh was coadjutor to Conamhail (the phrase is principatum tenuit ). Or perhaps there was some schism in the monastery over the paschal question, for though St. Dunchadh is said to have ruled from 710 till 717, in 713 the death of "St. Dorbaine Foda, Abbot of Ia" is recorded by the "Annals of the Four Masters", and the same authority relates the appointment of "Faelchu, son of Dorbene" to the abbacy in 714. It was this Faelchu who was certainly abbot from 717 to 724. Both of these, however, may have been really coadjutors to St. Dunchadh, or priors, or even bishops, for there were certainly bishops in Iona at that period, and the phrase employed is cathedram Iae obtinuit . However this may be, the paschal controversy was settled at Iona by the adoption of the Roman usage, while St. Dunchadh was abbot. This took place at the instance of St. Egbert , a Northumbrian priest, who had been educated in Ireland. He came to Iona in 716, and was at once successful in persuading the community to abandon the Celtic Easter and tonsure.

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