Saint Gobnait is one of Ireland’s early saints who can be dated back to the 6th century. Her memory, as a healer and helper of the innocent, has been kept alive and many devout believers still visit her shrine to this day. Gobnait’s shrine is near the site where she first built her nunnery on the outskirts of Ballyvourney (Town of the Beloved) and is easily accessible by road – or by a short woodland walk.
Legend has it that Naomh Gobnait chose Ballyvourney as she was told by an angel that she was to travel until she came to a place where there were nine white deer grazing together. Her quest eventually led her to cross the River Sullane and to climb up the wooded hillside before her. There, at the top, she came across nine white deer grazing and she knelt down, thanked God and began to establish her nunnery in faith.
Saint Gobnait is known as the patron saint of bees and had a remarkable relationship with them. She was aware of the healing properties of honey and used it to treat a range of illnesses and wounds. In some regards, she truly was a woman way ahead of her time.
Her saint day is celebrated on the 11 February.