St. Gobnait’s Feast Day, lover of bees and our favourite saint 🐝 is on 11th February and is a busy day in Ballyvourney where she founded her abbey.

St. Gobnait is Ireland’s patron saint of bees and beekeeping. Did you know that bees were highly prized in medieval times and Gobnait developed a life long affinity with bees?

St Gobnait Stained glass window

St Gobnait’s story is an inspiration to all us bee lovers. She was born in County Clare in the 6th century and fled due to a family feud. An angel appeared one day and told her to head inland to find the place of her resurrection which would be marked by finding 9 white deer. Her journey south is marked by churches and holy wells dedicated to her. She was found white deer of varying numbers but it was only when she reached Ballyvourney in County Cork that she found the last white deer grazing on the hill.

In Celtic lore it was believed that the soul leaves the body as a bee or butterfly and so bees were held in high regard. She developed a lifelong affinity with bees and added beekeeping to her life’s work.

Many tales survive today where Gobnait and her bees save the day. The most well known of these inspired renowned Irish artist Harry Clarke to create a stunning stain glass piece which still hangs in the Honan Chapel in University College Cork today. The Chapel holds a special place in Kate and Denis’ hearts as it is where they were married many years ago.

She was said to have power over the bees and they would go where she told them to. One story is that her abbey and village were attacked by marauders from Co. Kerry. She turned her bees on them, they swarmed towards them, stung them in the eyeballs and chased them away.

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Bees are central to all we do at Kinsale Mead Co. and we strive to educate people about the plight of our fuzzy stripy friends by working with the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. For many of us the lockdowns have given us a new appreciation for the wildlife outside our front door. It is hoped that particularly wild bee populations which have been decimated in recent years due to loss of biodiverse habitat, use of harmful pesticides and other pollutants, will “be able to make shorter and more profitable shopping trips” due to reduced traffic and pollution as we have had to stay home. Read more here…/article/20200506-why-lockdown-is-help… and check out the All Ireland Pollinator Plan to find out how you can #savethebees at

We hope you will join us in helping our pollinators to survive and thrive.