Sylvester Malone.

Church history of Ireland, from the Anglo-Norman invasion to the reformation, with succession of bishops down to the present day.. (Volume 1) online

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Surnssion of Sisljops botoir la ih present bag.

^ BY






" QuamTis Eruditione et ecicntia inferior, nullatamensinceritateverique
studio cedere unquam Buslinebo. "—Mab. Praf. dac. trim. Buudictinuin.


Z\piii (Bbition.





[All rig Ids reserved.]



The plan of the present edition and the ground for
the most part covered bj it are the same as those
of previous editions. On that account the title page
describes it as the third edition, though it might be
styled, with some propriety, the first edition ; be-
cause the preceding editions, consisting each of a
single volume, have been developed in the present
into two, more voluminous than its predecessors ;
and because a considerable share of matter is found
in the present of which there is scarcely a germ in
the previous editions.

The period embraced by the following sheets com-
prises the history, under a certain aspect, of a con-
siderable portion of the Middle Ages, and as such
cannot be devoid of interest for the reader. While
doctrine has been unchangeable, the discipline of
the Church has changed with changing circum-
stances ; and a history which makes us acquainted
with the discipline of one of the oldest branches of
the Catholic CUurch during a period of nearly four


hundred years, must have strong claims on the at-
tention of the historical student.

Over and above the value attachable to a retro-
spect of the time within the limits of the work, it
has this additional recommendation, that it is a con-
necting link between the old and modern discipline
of the Church. The ancient discipline, no doubt, as
understood by ecclesiastical historians, generally
ceased before the period treated of in the following
history, but not before the conversion of the Irish to
Christianity ; and that discipline, owing to the con-
servative turn of the Celtic mind, and the reverential
tenacity with which the Irish Church clung to every-
thing bequeathed by St, Patrick, was preserved
almost in a crystalised state down to the Anglo-
Norman invasion.

Nor even then did it altogether cease. It is not
correct to state, as Dr. Lanigan and those who
copied him have stated, that the ancient Irish
offices and discipline universally gave way at once
to English rites.

Abundant evidence exists to show that the ancient
discipline of the Irish Church survived for centuries
alter the Anglo-Norman invasion : nay, more ; traces
of that discipline, owing to the peculiar exigencies of
the country, continued down to our own days.

If then to the history of the Irish Church a pecu-
liar interest attaches, viewed in its disciplinary cha-
racter, intensely interesting must it Be in regard to


the doctrine involved in and expressed by that dis-

It has been said, and on no slight grounds, that
history since the Eeformation has been only a vast
conspiracy against truth. This has been strikingly
illustrated by the treatment to which the Church
history of Ireland has been subjected. If there be
one Church rather than another which could be
safely appealed to as echoing ancient Patristic teach-
ing, it is the Irish Church. Yet, strange to say,
many writers, from whom better might be expected,
appealed to the teaching of the ancient Irish Church
as confirmatory proof of the antiquity and truth of

This statement, believed in by a section of Irish-
men, at least for a short time, was supported not so
much by false as by mutilated, distorted quotations.
Tiiat this should have happened is the less surprising,
as the operation fell in with the prejudices of the
readers ; and those whose religion was misrepre-
sented had not access to original and decisive docu-

Bold or blinded must have been the writers who
hazarded assertions contradicted by the traditions.,
the practices, and writings of several successive gene-
rations. This contradiction is the more emphatic,
as the writings of those claimed by Protestantism,
which supply the contradiction, are the very auto-
graphs of the fathers of the early Irish Church.


Of such originals the old Book of Armagh and
the still older Books of Dimma and the Stowe Mis-
sal are specimens ; and in such, very few if any
churches in Europe are so rich as the Irish Church.

The author, in the composition of the present
history, never intended to support a theory in the
obnoxious sense of the word. Not that, of course,
he did not believe in the philosophy of history ; not
that he did not give a certain value to results and
deductions from facts over and above the interest
attaching to them : but he always considered that
the deductions drawn by the unprejudiced reader
from facts simply told, were far more safe than the
foregone conclusions of an author who only twisted
facts in support of these conclusions. By how much
more simply, without reference to preconceived
notions or theories, facts are told and established, by
so much the better are the interests of truth con-

These were and are the views of the author on
general history ; but with regard to the history of
the period embraced in the present work, he never
judged that for polemical purposes there could be the
least room for theorising.

He was not a little surprised, then, in seeing this
not only attempted, but attempted in contradiction
of well-established facts.

A recent work, the very latest, perhaps, written by
one of the most learned Protestants in defence of the


late Establishment in Ireland, maintained that the
Irish Catholics were not only previously, but subse-
quently to the Anglo-Norman invasion, independent
of and rebellious to Eomish supremacy ; and that
these independent old Catholics, either by being
crushed between the Anglo-Norman importations
and Eoman missionaries, or dissolved in a solution
with either, finally disappeared only after the Eefor-

The work to which I refer* was ostensibly a life
of our National Apostle, but really an attempt to
support a tottering estabhshment. Because while it
contains only 250 pages on the life of the saint, it
devoted 264 pages to an introduction. More than
that ; this introduction dealt not only with the period
immediately preceding, but even subsequent to the
so-called Eeformation. The author of this remark-
able work— the most learned Irish scholar, assuredly,
of whom Protestants can boast — in page vi. of the
preface, states, ** that he was conscious of no contro-
versial prejudice." Most people, however, would see
in the work a tendency and an aim to shift the blame
of the failure of the so-called Eeformation in Ireland
from the Protestant Church to the State, and to bring
discredit and odium on the pre-Eeformation Catholic
Church, because of its connexion, however remote,
with the English Government.

The distortion of facts by one otherwise fair and
♦ Dr. Todd's Memoir of St. Patrick


scholarly, in support of an untenable obnoxious
position, only proves the force of prejudice.

In pages 234-5 of his introduction, the learned
author states, referring to the year 1367, that the
penal enactments against the Irish were sanctioned
by the Irish bishops and the Court of Eome. Well,
it is very singular that an author who came down to
the Union never has a word about the penal enact-
ments of " vicious perfection," as styled by Edmund
Burke, to which the Protestant Church was a party.
Nay, more ; when the persecuting Government, in
1626, resolved to relax the grasp of tyranny, eleven
Protestant bishops, headed by Primate Ussher, suc-
cessfully opposed relief to Catholics who offered a
large sum of money to purchase their inalienable
right — liberty of conscience. Tiiis would be a suffi-
cient answer to the author in question.

But as the charge against the mediseval Catholic
Church may be made with more taste and force
than by the learned author in question, it may be
worth while here to say a few words in reply.
Though, in conjunction with the Lords and Com-
mons, the archbishops, bishops, abbots, and priors
were summoned to a legislative assembly, yet they
were to sanction only tvhat appertained to them to as-
sent to. Now, this clearly proves that they did not
stand godfathers to every enactment in Parliament.

Again, one of the clauses in the enactments at
Kilkenny forbade the use of Irish names within the


Pale. However, three bishops, who are represented
as sanctioning and subscribing to these enactmerts,
styled themselves respectively O'Grrady, O'Hagan,
and O'Carroll. Therefore, they cannot be supposed
to have supported and carried out all the enact-
ments at Kilkenny. But the whole matter will
receive a formal and full treatment at the proper
place in the present work.

Then, again, in pages 242, 243, the learned author
states, " that the ancient clergy of Irish descent,
and of Irish tongue, were banished from their livings^
and suffered to become extinct by papal policy,"
and " that the Church of the Pale was more devoted
to Eome, and more completely under papal, or, as
we would say. Ultramontane influence, than the
ancient clergy and bishops of the aboriginal Irish
Church ever were, or could have been." Nothing
could be more untrue. Facts establish the contrary.
If, then, in the course of this history, the writer
directs the mind of the reader to certain definite
conclusions, it is to prevent it from being imposed
on by an unsound, however specious, theory.

Many persons not thoroughly acquainted with the
ecclesiastical history of Ireland imagine that it
maintained down to the Eeformation its previous
high character for sanctity; and that the present
history should only be a record of edifying deeds and
holy actors. Such an illusion will be rudely broken
by reading the following pages.


In the course of this history acts turn up which
are not calculated much to edify. But they are
noticed because so much at variance with the then
everyday life. Again, the reader will bear in mind
that it is the duty of the historian to relate his story
as a narrator rather than as a panegyrist. "When it
is kept in mind that the events embraced in the
following narrative occurred while every part of Ire-
land became a battle ground, that almost every
county was fought for, won, retaken, and fought for
again and again without interruption during 363
years, it becomes a matter for marvel not that there
had been so much to disedify, but that there had not
been much more. Perhaps, during a few years of
modern civil or other wars there had been greater
relaxation of discipline, a ruder shock given to the
religious sentiment, a grosser neglect of the practical
duties of religion than during the incessant wars of
invasion for several centuries. Yes, wars of inva-
sion ; because as each supply of the Anglo-Norman
element was yearly assimilated to or absorbed by the
Irish — becoming 7nore Irish than the Irish themselves
— a fresh supply kept constantly pouring from the
English shores.

On that account the tide of invasion set in as
strongly in the beginning of the sixteenth as in the
twelfth century. The Anglo-Irish colony repre-
sented the language, the laws, and the strength of


England. It expressed a Hkeness of the EDglish
Church but of the religion of Christendom. As we
shall see, by-and-by, the Irish and the Anglo-Irish
Churches were devout belie 7ers in the supremacy of
St. Peter and his successors, and, of course, were
members of the Universal Church. But, at the same
tmie, each blessed its own children, and svmpathised
with their temporal aims— the latter as much as the
English themselves, the former as intensely as if
Ireland never had been poUuted by the step of an
invader. The Anglo-Irish ecclesiastics were neces-
sarily more mixed up with temporal concerns than
the old Irish ; because by the common law of Eng-
land the chief offices of state were filled by ecclesi-
astics, and on that account, unless they forgot their
privHeges, could not avoid taking their placets among
the Barons, Chancellors, and Justiciaries of State.
Not only the Anglo-Irish but even the old Irish
ecclesiastics sometimes took their seats in the so-
called Irish Parliament. On that account an Irish
bishop, belonging to the families which assumed the
prefix C or Mac in the territory of the O'Briens,
when forced into partnership with the Pale, and cut
ofi*, without a prospect of reunion, from the enemy's
country, felt it a duty to make himself as useful and
sympathising a member as an ecclesiastic in Dublin
or Meath. Whoever, then, labours under the illu-
sion that the happiest period— a period of harmony
—in the history of the Irish Church was from the


invasion to the revolution in religion in the six-
teenth century will be disenchanted by reading the
following pages.

For full three hundred years previous to the
invasion the Northmen endeavoured to make
the Irish pagans ; and for three hundred years
subsequently the ferocious penal code was em-
ployed to make them apostates. There need
be no hesitation in stating, then, that finer prospects
than the present did not open for a thousand years on
the Irish Church. Not that its work is done, but that
there is vitality in it to do so. Most of the chains
which fettered its actions have been loosed ; and
though they sunk deep into its members and left
traces of awful sufi'ering, yet vitality and vigour
enough still remained. A noble career opens on the
Irish Church, and it shows itseK ready to run it.
Outside towns, in the beginning of the present cen-
tury, there was scarcely any other than a thatched
house for worship. Since then there have been ex-
pended on churches over £1,061,215; on convents,
£3,198,627 ; on coUeges and seminaries, £309,018 ;
and over £147,135 on asylums and hospitals. Some
£300,000 have been expended on schools, managed
solely by Catholics; £40,000 have been raised for
throwing up a Catholic University. Since the year
1838, £149,124 have been contributed for the Propa-
gation of the Faith. Aid of a nobler character had
been imparted to the Foreign Missions. The united


dioceses of Cashel and Emly, during sixty years, have
sent forth *' conquering and to conquer" 143 priests,
33 monks, and 147 nuns ; while 122 priests, 11 monks,
and 87 nuns can be put down to the credit of Limerick
alone. All Hallows College has sent out 400 priests
since the year 1842. Instead of one Christian
Brother there are now 195 in Ireland, imparting a
solid and really national education to youth. At one
time there had been no superior school for girls ; now
there are 51 . There are also 2,990 schools built solely
and managed by Catholics ; 6 colleges directed by the
worthy members of the Company of Jesus. There
has been a considerable increase in the number of the
secular clergy; while in 117 convents there are 650
regulars. Finally, notwithstanding the efforts of
proselytism, of wasting fever, and exhausting en-
forced emigration, 77*7 per cent, of the population is

If the period embraced by the following sheets be
the most gloomy and uninspiring, it is at the same
time perhaps the most difficult period of Irish history
to deal with. In previous centuries whole volumes
might be written on the life of one man, say St.
Patrick ; and in subsequent times piles of State
papers are devoted to the career and end of some
martyr bishop. It is not so with the period dealt
with in this history.

♦See an interesting pamphlet, " Progress of Catholicity in the
Nineteenth Century."


While the materials for the ecclesiastical historian
are scanty, they are rather copious for the civil his-
torian. To be sure, the annals of some convent are
full and unbroken ; but when an effort is made to
give a more general interest, a more extensive bear-
ing to facts which clustered abundantly and inte-
restingly around a particular locality, they become
useless elements and lose their significance.

Hence the editors of the Camden Society, in the
preface to the '* Proceedings against Dame Kitler,"
had to complain that the period embraced by the
foUo^Ndng history was '' quite barren of events inte-
resting to the ecclesiastical historian."

Nor in dealing with his materials, such as they
are, has the ecclesiastical the same facility as the
civil historian for giving picturesqueness to his pages.
For it is not his province to give pictures of scenery
of nature in her charming aspect or horrid savage-
ness - in order to the appreciation of events. It is
not his province to furnish descriptions of defeats, or
the pomp and circumstance of victory ; of sieges, or
of those battles by which the interest of the reader is
wound to a pleasurable pitch.

While the materials for ecclesiastical history are
scanty, they offer an almost insuperable obstacle to
being woven into a web which would reflect the
colour and give the tone of general society. Many
facts start up before us apparently without a motive,
and surely without an important general result.



Such facts, when penned by the chronicler, are not
without a touch of nature and beauty, but it is im-
possible to range them under general heads. It is
difficult to give consecutiveness to the narrative.
Principles were cut short in their natural develop-
ment. So shifting, so violently disjointed was
society during the latter part of the Middle Ages in
Ireland, that the greatest, the boldest spirits were
unable to impress their age. Men who in the present
age would affect every particle in the mass of society,
were carried helplessly on by the headlong current of
events. The great effort of the author, then, has
been, while he has not indulged in the transcendental
flight of an essayist or dissertator, not to clog his
march by the mere dull chronicling of an annalist.

Here it may not be amiss to prepare the reader for
a departure from the several standard authorities on
the succession of Irish bishops : and I feel this the
more called for as I have not given my authorities
for dissenting from Harris and Ware. I had been
apprehensive that the giving of all authorities for
each succession, and the reasons, in the absence of
direct authority, for inclining the scale in balancing
probabilities, would too much encumber the pages of
an appendix.

To understand the doubts and difficulties to which

the appointment to bishoprics gave rise, one should

bear in mind that three or four parties claimed a voice

in the appointments. The dean and chapter ordi-

VOL. I. 1*


narily elected, the king exercised a reto^ the metro-
politan confirmed the election, and for some time the
Sovereign Pontifi' reserved the appointment to him-
eelf. Nay, more, the members of some religious
house presented to the metropolitan occasionally, or
sent to Bome for consecration some person different
from the elected of the dean and chapter.

Sometimes, too, several persons were consecrated
for the same see by different metropolitans, owing to
the disputed limits of the ecclesiastical provinces ;
and there have been instances of several persons con-
secrated to the same see by the archbishop and his
official in the absence of the former.

Each annalist, then, in the compilation of a list of
bishops, was likely to be influenced by bias towards
his own party, and ignore the claims of various rivals
in disputed successions. Hence the various lists of
bishops made out. And this was the more material
whenever it happened that the decision of the Holy
See, the supreme arbiter of all ecclesiastical disputes,
had not been ascertained.

The Vetera Monumenta of the Irish Church, by
Father Theener, just covering the same ground as
the following history, is a valuable supplement and
corrective of native writers. Honest and painstak-
ing in other respects as Ware appears, the propriety
of not implicitly following him in the succession of
bishops must recommend itself from the nature of
the case ; and even though he had the fullest evidence


before him, his honest prejudices were on some occa-
sions likely to bias his judgment.

If in a work to which I lately referred, in our day,
when so much prejudice has been dissipated, it has
been maintained that the Pope had no voice in the
appointment to purely Irish bishoprics, we can easily
conceive how anti-papal and erroneous must have
been the views of Sir James Ware on the authority
of the Popes at the end of the seventeenth century.

Every candid student of history must admit that
if one or more had a voice in the canonical appoint-
ment of bishops in Ireland, it was derived from the
privilege or sanction of the Apostolic See, the source
of all ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

The Vatican documents are most useful not only
in filling up otherwise hopeless chasms, but even in
harmonising irreconcilable statements. Even the
Vatican archives, either from a clerical error or other
cause, are not sometimes consistent with themselves.*

In conclusion, the present work is given to the
public with a feeling of thankfulness and hope ; with
thankfulness for the favour with which previous
editions had been generally received ; and with a
hope that the present third edition deserves a still

* For instance, in 1527, M. Saunders is mentioned as succeeding
by the death of Thomas Leighlin, whereas it is certain he suc-
ceeded by the death of Maurice. So, too, in regard to the suc-
cessors of James O'Currin, in Killaloe ; he is now ignored, and
again acknowledged in Roman documents.


larger share of favour. Pains have been taken to
guard against the faults of its predecessors. Some
of these faults have received correction as well from
additional reading on the part of the author, as from
his own reflection ; hut for whatever may still re-
main, he throws himself on the kind indulgence of
the reader.

Kilrinachta, Sixmilebridge,





Readiness of the Irish to embrace Christianity ; mis-
sionary and glorious career of the eariy Irish
Church : its method of celebrating the Easter-tide
and wearing the tonsure : its attachment to Rome :
its multiplication of dioceses : its various liturgies ;
havoc by the Danes ; revival of religion ; number of
saintly men immediately preceding the English in-
vasion ... ... ... ... ... 1-18


The Anglo-Norman invasion ': its cause ; resistance by
St. Lawrence O'Toole ; his death and canonization ;
Pope Adrian's Bull ; constitutional power of the
Popes during the middle ages ; authenticity of the
Bull established ; objections to it answered ; Dr.
Keating's mistake as to the date of issuing the
Bull ; the representations made to the Pope of Irish
abuse? ; account for the letter of grant by Pope
Adrian ; had no influence on the invasion ... 18-54


Synod of Cashel : its decrees of a disciplinary character :
in regard to marriages ; baptism ; tithes ; immunities
to Church lands ; the eric ; testamentary arrange-
ments ; conduct of the Irish bishops in regard to
the invasion ; letter of Pope Alexander III. con-
firmatory of Adrian's grant ; his letters to the Irish
princes, bishops, to the Irish king, to Henry II. ;
mission of Cardinal Vivian ; religious endowments
by the natives and strangers ; veneration for Irish .
relics ... .•■ ••• ••• • •• i>*-84




Syuod of Dublin in 1186: its decrees of a disciplinary
nature ; Irish priests admittedly remarkable for ob-
servance of chastity ; objections answered ; charged
with excessive indulgence in spirituous drink ; plun-
dering disposition of the invader : its bad effect on
the Irish ; scramble for bishoprics ; translation of
the relics of SS. Patrick, Bridget, and Columb-
kille ; reprobate character of, and visitations on, the

Online LibrarySylvester MaloneChurch history of Ireland, from the Anglo-Norman invasion to the reformation, with succession of bishops down to the present day.. (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 34)