Cumian, or Cumene the White, Abbot of Iona, was born in Tirconnell the beginning of the 7th century. He was sent for his education to Iona, and soon outstripped "most of his contemporaries in the exercise of virtue, and all of them in learning." On his return he founded or governed an abbey in the west of Leinster. The difference concerning the celebration of Easter about this period assumed wide proportions. For a time Cumian held aloof; but after a year's consideration he was instrumental in calling a synod at Leighlin to discuss the question. The synod despatched messengers to Rome; and upon their return and report in about three years'time, it was decided to adopt the Roman usage. Cumian, as the chief mover in the matter, was reproved by his old friends the monks of Iona. They declared that he was a heretic — a deserter of the traditions of his ancestors. These feelings subsided in time, and upon the next vacancy (in 657) he was elected to succeed in the government of Iona. After adorning the position by his learning and sanctity for twelve years, he died in 669. Some religious works are attributed to him. It is to be remarked that the southern Irish Church conformed to the Roman Easter sooner than the northern and Dalriad, and that, in consequence for many years there existed the strongest feelings of antipathy between the ecclesiastics of the two sections.


339. Ware, Sir James, Works: Walter Harris. 2 vols. Dublin, 1764.