statue of Saint Eugene is set in a niche in the tower
of the Cathedral above the main entrance doors. The
statue is one of a consignment of nine statues around
the exterior of the Cathedral, ordered from the firm
of Pearse & Sons - the family of Padraig Pearse
(one of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising
The name Eugene
is a comparison of the anglicised/latinised ‘Eugenius’
with the saint’s actual Gaelic name ‘Eoghain’
(pronounced ‘Owen’) which translated from
Irish means ‘born under the protection of the
was born towards the end of the 5th century or the beginning
of the 6th century. Along with Tighernach, a close friend
who later became Bishop of Clones, he received his early
education in Clones.
Eugene is said
to have founded a monastery in Kilnamanagh, near Dublin,
spending 15 years there as an abbot. Among his novices
there was his relative Kevin (Saint of Glendalough).
According to legend, Eugene had a vision, a divine command
to travel north - a command he obeyed with great reluctance
and against the wishes of his monks. It has been suggested
however, that he was invited north to the See of Ardstraw
because of his reputation for learning and sanctity.
He was said to have foretold the coming of Columba.
died on the evening of 23rd August while his monks were
chanting their evening office. He is buried somewhere
in Ardstraw graveyard and the suggested date of his
death is 550.