Darerca (Mo-Ninne) (d. 519?), foundress of Killevy, Co. Armagh, and saint in the Irish tradition, was, according to the medieval genealogies, daughter of Mochtae son of Lilach. Her genealogy is therefore traced to a discard segment of the Dál nAraide dynasty of east Ulster. Her father's personal name may well indicate that he was a disciple of the saintly British monk Mauchteus (qv) of Louth, who was also known as Mochtae. Such an influence seems appropriate for the Louth–Armagh border area later associated with the activity of Darerca. A tradition relates that her first name was Sárbile and that she was baptised Darerca; the story implausibly claims that she earned the hypocoristic ‘Mo-Ninne’ when she miraculously restored speech to a dumb poet, whose first words were nin, nin.
A medieval Life of Darerca survives which, when stripped of miracle stories and other accretions, presents a not improbable account of the career of an early church foundress. The Life claims that Darerca commenced her religious career by following a monastic rule while still at home. She progressed from her regulated life at home through a period of trial as an anchoress to headship of a community of women. She is supposed to have influenced a young boy, the future bishop Lugar of Rúscach (Roosky, Co. Louth).
The roles ascribed to St Patrick (qv), who supposedly approved her mission, and St Brigit (qv), whom she allegedly visited, are hardly historical, but are probably intended to explain later relationships between Killevy, Armagh, and Kildare. The same is probably true of the episodes involving Cóemgen (qv) of Glendalough, who is represented as resenting the donation of land to Darerca by a convert, and threatening an attack on her convent till she met him and arranged a compromise. On the other hand, there may be some basis to an account of Darerca's spiritual formation under the direction of Bishop Ibar (qv) of Becc Eriu (Begerin Island, Co. Wexford). It is said that at this stage in her career she founded a church at Ard Conais (unlocated, but also apparently in Co. Wexford).
After her return to the north-east, Darerca apparently spent time at Facharta (Faughart, Co. Louth) before proceeding on to Sliab Cuilinn (Slieve Gullion), the site of her principal foundation, Cell Shléibe Chuilinn (Killevy). Darerca was credited with distinction in learning and with fostering an interest in education and learning amongst her community. She was reputed to have exchanged books with the saintly Íte (qv), and to have dispatched a nun named Brígnat to Candida Casa, the monastery of St Ninian (qv) at Whithorn in Galloway, to learn good monastic practice.
Darerca almost certainly belongs to the sixth century. Her obit is entered at 517/19, but her death may have occurred later: it is maintained that Eochaid son of Condlae, king of Dál nAraide, whose demise is assigned to 553, visited her on her deathbed. In any event, the anniversary of her death according to the martyrologies was 6 July. Her cult remained strong in the Killevy area; a hoe and spade, held to have been hers, were venerated as relics – a testimony to the importance of agriculture for the medieval community. Three of Darerca's earliest successors, Bia, Indiu, and Derlasra, are named in the Life, while a ninth-century list carries the sequence further. Killevy became a convent of Augustinian canonesses probably in the twelfth century and survived till dissolution in 1542.