The Monastery of Brigown gives its name to two-thirds of the modern parish of Mitchelstown.
It was founded in the seventh century by a warrior monk named Fionn Cú, or Fanahan
(White Hound). Apparently, Fanahan was born at Rathealy, near Fermoy, and was the
son of an Ulster petty chieftain exiled in Munster. As was common in Early Christian
times, Fanahan entered religious life at a very early age. He joined the monks at
the monastery of Bangor, County Down, where he was attributed with a quick temper
and astonishing spiritual powers.
A quarrel with his brethren led to Fanahan’s expulsion from Bangor. He and a few
of his followers made their way to the King of Munster’s residence at Cashel, where
he told King Cathal MacAedha that he wished to have land to build a monastery in
Munster. The monarch duly obliged the holy man with a grant of Fan Muilt (The Wether’s
Slope), which was at that time a great dairy farm owned by the King’s wife, and roughly
equivalent to the 19th century civil parish of Brigown. We are told that it was here
Fanahan ‘proclaimed and gave evidence of Our Saviour and was a flame against guilty