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The National Churches






IRELAND



T. OLDEN.



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XTbe IFlattonal (Tburcbcs.

EDITED BY

P. H. DITCHFIELD, M.A., F.S.A., F.R.Hist.S.



THE

CHURCH OF IRELAND.



THE



CHURCH OF IRELAND



THOMAS OLDEN, M.A.

MEMBER OF THE ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY ; VICAR OF BALLYCLOUGH
AUTPIOR OF
THE HOLY SCRIPTURES IN IRELAND ONE THOUSAND YEARS AGO."



mat]) itiaps.



LONDON:

WELLS GARDNER, BARTON & CO.

2 PATERNOSTER BUILDINGS, E.G.

AND 44 VICTORIA STREET, S.W.
1892




1892.



PREFACE.



While these sheets were passing through the press
the Church of Ireland suffered a grievous loss in the
death of the learned and accomplished Dr. Reeves,
Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore, who was
without a rival in his acquaintance with the ecclesi-
astical literature of Ireland. Up to the last, notwith-
standing his many engagements, he found time with
his usual kindness to read the proofs of this work
for me. The essay on S. Patrick (Appendix A.) had
not then been reached by the printer, but before
any part of the work went to the press I had sent
this to the Bishop in manuscript. I felt doubtful as
to how he would receive it, as it differs considerably
from previous theories on the subject. I was, how-
ever, much gratified when he assured me of the
pleasure with which he read the argument. I hope
it will be found to throw some light on a difficult
subject. The Bishop has been taken from us, in the
Providence of God, when he could ill be spared, and
I deeply regret that it is now not in my power to
thank him for the help he so willingly gave me. His



206G405



vi PRE FA CE.

works are indispensable to any one who writes on
Irish ecclesiastical history, and they will be found
frequently quoted in the following pages. Numerous
references are also made to the Tripartite Life of
S. Patrick, edited by Mr. Whitley Stokes, D.C.L.
Oxon., tlie second volume of which contains all the
contemporary documents connected with his history.
These are given in the original languages, together
with numerous extracts from ancient authors, which
illustrate them. The student is thus supplied with all
the materials for the investigation of the origins of
Irish Christianit}' in the most convenient form, and
edited by one of the first scholars of the age. For-
merly they could only be gathered from rare works,
many of them not to be found except in large public
libraries.

Some of the Lives in the " Dictionary of National
Biography" have also been used, and though this may
not appear so satisfactory as a reference to the ori-
ginal documents, it really amounts to the same thing,
as all articles in the Dictionary are supplied with a
summary of the authorities on which the}- are founded.
I had the less hesitation in quoting them, as the Lives
in question were written by myself from original
sources. The Church History of Rev. R. King, which
gives so many important documents, and his able his-
tory of the Primacy of Armagh, have been often con-
sulted, together with many other authorities, published



PREFACE. vii

and unpublished, the names of most of which will be
found at pp. 430, 431.

The first map prefixed shows the early division
of Ireland (see p. 118), the churches underlined in
red in the southern division being those of the chief
ecclesiastics who were present at the Synods of Magh
Lene and Whitefield (tb.). Those so indicated in
the North are the churches of those to whom the
'Pope-elect and the Roman clergy ^ addressed their
letter on the Easter question about 640 (Ussher,
Works, iv. 427). The second map exhibits the
dioceses as they exist at present, the only difference
since disestablishment being that there has been an
increase in their number, Clogher having been
detached from Armagh, and endowed as a separate
bishopric. In the Appendix (A.) will be found some
considerations on the dates connected with S. Patrick's
history. A few other matters which required to be
noticed have also been placed in the Appendix in order
not to interrupt the course of the history, and as they
were not likely to interest the general reader. I
have to acknowledge my obligations to many friends
for occasional assistance in this work, among whom I
would especially mention Mr. Whitley Stokes, D.C.L.,

^ They were: Bishops, Tomene of Armagh, Cohnan of Clonard,
Cronaii of Oendruim, Dima of Connor, and Baithen of Taghboyne.
Priests, Cronan, Abbot of Moville ; Ernan, Abbot of Tory Island ;
Laisrean, Abbot of Ardmicnasca ; Scellan, the leper of Armagh ;
Segene, Abbot of Bangor j and Saran O'Critain, of Tisaran, whose
church was in the South.



viii PREFACE.

LL.D., Professor Ridgewa}' of Cambridge and Queen's
College, Cork, and the Rev. E. Milner-Barry, M.A., of
Tunbridge Wells, whose kindness in making extracts
I have often put to a severe test.

I will only add that my desire has been to give a
faithful presentation of the facts in this history, and
to show that the Church through all the changes of
the past has retained its historical identity, and is
now, as it has ever been, the Church of Ireland.



CONTENTS.



I. PRE-CHRISTIAN IRELAND ....

II. THE CONVERSION OF IRELAND — S. PATRICK

III. SAINTS OF THE FIRST PERIOD— S. BRIGIT .

IV. SECOND PERIOD— SAINTS AT HOME
V. SECOND AND THIRD PERIODS — SAINTS ABROAD

1. GREAT BRITAIN

VI. SECOND AND THIRD PERIODS — SAINTS ABROAD

2. THE CONTINENT

VII. THE CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH .

VIII. ITS EASTERN ORIGIN AND PRIMITIVE CHARACTER
IX. THE HIBERNENSIS AND THE IRISH SCHOOLS
X. THE DANES— THE ROUND TOWERS
XI. KING BRIAN — THE CHRISTIAN DANES .

XII. STATE OF RELIGION — CHURCH GOVERNMENT

XIII. DIOCESAN EPISCOPACY

XIV. THE ANGL0-N0R:\IANS AND ADRIAN'S BULL
XV. THE ANGLO-NORMAN AND NATIVE CLERGY.

XVI. THE STATUTE OF KILKENNY

XVII. THE REFORMATION

XVIII. EDWARD VI. TO JAMES I

XIX. JAMES I. TO CHARLES II



PAGE
I

9

31
49

71

91
1 10

130
146
166
184
202
220

^-V
257
275
291
310
339



CONTENTS



\\. t HARI.es II. TO GEORGE I. .
XXI. GEORGE I. TO DISEST.VBLISHMKNT



PAGE
360



.■\PrKNDI.\'.

A. S. P.\TRICK .

B. The Celtic Dogs

C. Ox the Word "Caxoix"

D. Lough Eirke
K. Parallel Saixts
V. A Hymx IX Two Languages
c;. Liturgical Ter>ls
H. A 1'oi;m ox Rome by Johx Scotus
Authorities Quoted



405
420
421
424
425
426
427
429
430



HISTORY OF THE CHURCH
OF IRELAND.



CHAPTER I.

PRE-CHRISTIAN IRELAND.

The condition of Ireland in the period immediately
preceding the advent of Christianity to its shores so
vitally affected the Church founded there that some
remarks on the subject are necessary.

The wave of Roman conquest had spent its force
on Britain, and though Agricola contemplated the
invasion of Ireland, and troops were assembled for the
purpose, the design was never carried out. Thus,
while Britain was known as " the Roman island,"
Ireland remained independent, and was termed the
*' barbarous " or non-Roman island. This immunity
from the fate of most European countries had a pro-
found influence on her subsequent history, and it
would not, perhaps, be too much to say that some of
its effects are perceptible even at the present hour.

In its general aspect the country was densely
wooded, and even down to the seventeenth century
districts where not a tree is now to be seen were
clothed with mighty oaks or the rich vegetation of
native shrubs. Tracts of this latter kind were known

A



2 HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF IRELAND.

as "fastnesses" from their difficulty of access, and
played an important part in the troubles of the six-
teenth and seventeenth centuries.

Unacquainted with Roman civilisation, the Irish had
their own tribal institutions, such as those descended
to them from their Aryan ancestors, and their own
form of heathenism, derived from the same source ; but
" of the deities of Greece or Rome they had no know-
ledge, nor had they any Celtic names or designations
for them." ^

It was a country of clans, the members of which
derived their name from an ancestor who was regarded
in a certain sense as still the head. Thus the clan of
O'Neill meant the descendants of Niall of the Nine
Hostages, whose achievements were thus always kept
in memory. The clans, though independent in reality,
acknowledged the authority of an over-king, who in
early times resided at Tara ; but his rule was nomi-
nal, and the population generally were entirely unac-
quainted with the idea of a central government and
executive.

The inhabitants are termed in the " Confession of S.
Patrick" Scoti ^ or Scots, and Hiberionaces, the former
being the ruling race ; and the usual name for Ireland
down to the eleventh century is Scotia. But when
the colony from Ireland which settled in the West of
Scotland in the fifth century formed a kingdom with
a monarch of their own, Ireland began to be known
as Scotia Major or the Greater Scotland, and the colony
as Lesser Scotia, and finally the name became appro-
priated altogether to Scotland. The Scots of Ireland
are regarded as the race otherwise called Milesians,

1 Tod.l, S. r.-itrick, 456;/.

- Said to have lieen so called from painting or tattooing their bodies
(BoUandisl's A.A.S.S., Oct. 22, Tom. ix. 656, col. i).



PRE-CHRISTIAN IRELAND. 3

descendants of Miledh of Spain, who make such a
figure in the legendary history of Ireland, as the
conquerors of the previous races who inhabited the
country. Some of these primitive tribes remained
distinct down to historic times ; as, for instance, the
Firbolgs, who are mentioned in the Life of S. Grellan
as occupying a territory in the counties of Roscommon
and Galway, and an account is given of the invasion
of their territory and their conquest by the people of
Oirghialla or Oriel, which embraced the county of
Louth. These subjugated races are comprehended
under the general term of Hiberionaces, so called from
Hiberio,^ the name by which the country was known,
and which has survived that of the Scotic conquerors.

In the Lives of S. Patrick, Druids are frequently
mentioned, and the Order of Bards also occupies
an important place. The former are represented as
engaged in education, as the same class was in Gaul,
according to Caesar. He mentions as one of their
tenets the doctrine of the immortality of the soul,"^
and there is reason to believe that this was also held
by the Irish Druids, as one of their terms ^ preserved
in the " Book of Armagh " implies a similar belief.
This must in some degree have facilitated the recep-
tion of Christianity among them.

The Bards acted as genealogists and historians as
well as poets, and many of them were amongst the

1 "//zderio, which is also the designation of Ireland in the ' Itinerary
of Antonine,' is the Latin form of tlie native name Eriu. The d
sounding as v gave Iverio (k being omitted as not a distinct letter of
the Irish alphabet), and by a phonetic law v between two vowels dis-
appearing, it became lerio, leriu, and finally Eriu. The modern Erin
is the dative case " (Wh. Stokes in M. MuUer's " Science of Language,"
vol. i. p. 275).

2 De Bell. Gall, vi. s. 14; Strabo, iv. 197.

^ " The day called Erdathe by the Druids, that is, the Day of Judg-
ment of the Lord " (Tripartite, ii. 308, line 8). It is not a loan word from
the Greek or Latin, and seems to be a native term.



4 HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF IRELAND.

earliest converts. They were a numerous body, and
in the si.xth century were supposed to number one-
third of the population.

In the popular religion there was no systematic
mythology like that of Greece or Rome, but a few
deities, whose forms are indistinct and shadowy, are
occasionally mentioned, such as Badb, the goddess of
war and carnage ; Nuadu, a sea-god, the Nodens of
Britain ; and Brigit, a goddess who is supposed to
have had a fire ritual, and who corresponded with
the divinity mentioned by Caesar as having some of
the attributes of Minerva.^ But these were little
known to the mass of the people, whose religion
consisted in a vague belief in earth-gods,^ dwelling
within the hills of the Sic/, as their mysterious abodes
were called, and whose only objects of worship were
stones, trees, and wells. Pillar stones, which were so
numerous in many parts of the country, were believed
to be inhabited by spirits, as at this day among the
Arabs of Palestine.^ The chief seat of this worship
was the Plain of Adoration,* where a large idol, called
Crom or Cenn Cruaich, stood, which was plated with
gold ^ and surrounded by twelve smaller ones covered
with brass. It is stated in the "Book of Leinstcr "
that the Irish sacrificed children to this idol : —

" Milk and corn
They used to ask of him urgently,
In return for a third of their ofi'spring.
Great was the horror and the wailing there." ^

1 " Brigit is certainly connected with the old Celtic goddess-name
IJrigantia" (Stokes, " Cormac's Glossary," p. 23).

' Dclterretti, as Latin writers term them. In Irish they ^'txeJirsidJie,
" (fairy) men of the hills ; " bean sidht (Banshee) is the female form.

^ Lieut. Coiider, Ileth and Moab, p. 329.

* Maqk slfclif, situated near Uallymngauran, in the county of Cavan.
' A legendary confirmation of this is, that Tigernmas, a worship)ier

of the idol, was the first to smelt gold in Ireland (A.F.M., A.D. 3656).

• liook of Lcinster (Facsimile, 213 b).



PRE-CHRISTIAN IRELAND. 5

The worship of trees was prevalent, as the frequent
occurrence of the word bi/c', a sacred tree, in local names
attests.^ Five famous trees are mentioned in the
" Book of Leinster." " They were the Eo Rossa, a yew-
tree ; the Eo Mugna, an oak ; the Bile Dathi, the Bile
Tortain, and the Craeb Uisnig, which were ash-trees.
These trees fell or w^ere destroyed in the time of the
sons of Aedh Slaine, in the seventh century.^ This
would seem to indicate that the veneration for them
finally ceased at that time. When the Eo Rossa,
which stood at Drombarna, Co. Monaghan, fell, it was
bestowed by S. Molaisse on the saints of Ireland, and
it is recorded in the Life of S. Moiling ^ of Luachair
that he engaged a celebrated artisan, named the Goban
Saer, to construct an oratory for him from the portion
assigned to him. But in thus converting this object of
pagan worship to a Christian use S. Moiling suffered
personal injury, which, we are told, an agent of Satan
endeavoured to aggravate. The Eo Mugna was felled
by the poet Ninni'ne. It is thus described : — It was
a vast tree, the top whereof was as broad as a plain.
Thrice a year did it bear fruit, and it remained hidden
from the time of the Deluge until the night on which
Con of the Hundred-battles was born. Thirty cubits
was the girth of that tree, and three hundred cubits
its height.^ Another authority tells us it bore three
kinds of fruit every year. First, wondrous apples of
great size; secondly, blood-red berries; thirdly, brown-
speckled acorns. Of the latter, its produce was nine

1 As Maghhhik, Moville ; Rathbhile, Rathvilly, &c,

" Facsimile, pp. 199^, 200a.

^ Began to reign A.D. 658.

* Dairchell or Moiling in " Dictionary of National Biography."

' Calendar of CEngus, p. clxxxi., ed. Stokes.



6 HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF IRELAND.

luindred sacks.^ In the Life of S. Berach " we have
further evidence that the behef continued in Christian
times. He proposed to a Druid who resisted him that
a pubHc trial should take place before the judges as to
the respective claims of Christianity and heathenism,
but the Druid declined unless it were to take place
under a tree in which a demon had his residence,
whose aid he wished to have.

The worship of wells was in existence in S. Patrick's
time, and he found the people worshipping one which
was artificially enclosed and covered with a square
stone. They believed a Druid was buried beneath
the stone, and they called the well the King of Waters.

The population lived within the enclosures commonly
known as Danish forts, but which were in existence
long before an}' Danes were heard of in Ireland. In
these their houses of timber or wattled-work were
placed, surrounded generally by a single rampart, but
in the case of royal residences by two or more.
Such enclosures, with their primitive houses, became
the model of the Irish monastery, and were termed
"cities."^

The worship of the sun is referred to by S.
Patrick as practised in his time, and one of the
customs connected with it, and still retained, in
Ireland was the lighting of bonfires, once common
throughout Europe. The first day of May was known
in the Irish language as the day of Beltine, either the
fire of Baal, or, as by some interpreted, " the lucky
fire." The fires are now transferred to the 23rd of



1 Book of Leinster, 200^7, lines 15, 16.

- Of Cluain Coirpthe, Co. of Roicommon (Boll., Actt S.S., Feb. 15,

p. 343''')-

^ The forts are called in Irish /is, which is translated civitas. Thus,
loeg-lcss, tlie name <if a well at Tara, is translated the "calf of cities."
Caesar calls similar enclosures, with their houses, oppida.



PRE-CHRISTIAN IRELAND. 7

June, the eve of S. John the Baptist's day, but originally
they seem to have been connected with the summer
solstice.^

The Elysium of the Irish was on the banks of the
Boyne, which was even a more famous river in pre-
historic times than at the present day. It was known
as the " land of promise," the language of the Old Tes-
tament being applied to it after the introduction of
Christianity. The territory was described as " the
Brugh of the Boyne," in which was situated the plain
of Mel, or honey, evidently taken from the account of
Canaan as the land flowing with milk and honey. ^

Communication with the outer world was almost
unknown, for though traders touched at some of the
ports, the independence of the various tribes made
it difficult to travel through the country, and the lan-
guage was also an obstacle. Roads there are said to
have been, and five of them radiated from Tara, the
seat of government, but they were only " cuttings " ^
through the woods, which the law required to be
periodically cleared of the brushwood and under-
growth which tended to close them up again.*

We have here a state of society in which the people
were cut off from Western civilisation, and from those
objects of interest which occupied the human intellect
abroad, as well by their independence of the Roman

^ On the Continent the practice survived tlie Roman occupation
and the Teutonic conquest, which attests the extraordinary vitality
of Celtic tradition. In the Bavarian highlands they are known as
sonnen-7vend-fcuer, solstice fires, and a capitular of Charlemagne con-
demns them as a remnant of paganism (Pertz, ili. 17).

^ But how degraded the idea became when applied to heathen times
we may see from the description given of it in Irish literature : — " Ad-
mirable is that land. Tliere are three trees there always bearing fruit ;
there is one pig there always alive, and another pig ready cooked ; and
there is a vessel full of excellent ale " (" Book of Leinster," 246^).

* Slighe, from sligitii, to cut.

* Boc5k of Rights, Introduction, pp. Ivi., Ix.



S HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF IRELAND.

Empire as by their want of acquaintance with the
Latin language. Their horizon was bounded by the
shores of Ireland, and local topics only engaged their
attention ; nor could their poets find a nobler subject
for their greatest epic than the carrying off of a bull/
But when Christianity appeared among them it
introduced a wholly new order of ideas. Its spiritual
teaching found in them a congenial soil, and the seed
sown sprang up with wonderful vigour. With it came
also the Latin language, then the common medium of
communication throughout Europe, and it became pos-
sible for them to make use of the literary treasures of
the ancient world. In this point of view the words
of the hymn of Fiacc are expressive : —

" Patrick's coming was a help to Ireland,
Which had been shut up." ^

^ The Ta.'n bo Cualnge, or Cattle Spoil of Cooley, County of Louih.
- Windiscl), Worterbuch, S. V. Fochelim.



CHAPTER 11.

THE CONVERSION OF IRELAND— S. PATRICK.

As early as the year 200, while the Roman Empire
was still heathen, there were Christians in Britain, and
from the year 300 onwards it possessed an organised
Church, whose bishops are found attending the Council
of Aries, a.d. 314/ The vicinity of Ireland and the
communication between the two countries made it
a matter of certainty that some knowledge, however
slight, of Christianity should reach it, apart from any
formal mission. There is, therefore, probably some
basis of truth in the legends which describe this as
actually happening : how Cormac mac Art in the
third century refused to be buried with his pagan
ancestors ; ^ how the Druids, observing the spread of
Christianity, prophesied the triumph of a missionary
who should come across the stormy sea.^ And a
wilder legend tells how Connor mac Nessa, who lived
in the first century, heard of the death of Christ from
the Roman Consul Altus. But the first actual intro-
duction of Christianity appears to have taken place
in the south and south-west. Kieran of Saigir, a
native of Cape Clear island, whose birth is assigned
to A.D. 352, is termed in his Life the " first-born of the
saints of Ireland," "^ and the chieftains of the adjoin-
ing territory, who belonged to his mother's family, the

1 H. and S., vol. i. 4, 7. ^ Petrie, R. Towers, p. 100. ^ Trip., p. 35.
* This honour was also claimed subsequently for two of S. Patrick's
converts (Todd, p. 344).



lo HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF IRELAND.

" first who believed in the Cross and granted a site
for a church."^ The memory of the saint is still
preserved in the island, where the ruins of his church
are shown, and the strand, with its pillar-stone in-
scribed with a cross is called " S. Kicran's Strand."
The legend that he foretold the coming of S. Patrick
thirty years afterwards indicates that he was believed
to have preceded him by that period of time. Farther
to the west, in the peninsula of Dingle, are the remains
of several churches or oratories, one of which, that
of Gallerus, is still perfect. This singular building,
the sides of which slope until they meet, and which
shows no knowledge of the principle of the arch, is
regarded by Dr. Petrie - as the work of a Christian
people of an earlier date than that usually assigned
to S. Patrick. We may, therefore, accept it as highly
probable that from some time in the third century
" there were British Christians at work in the south
of Ireland,"^ and that Christianity had made some
progress there at an early period.

The first historical notice by a foreign authorit}'
of a regular mission to Ireland is the statement in
the Chronicle of Prosper of Aquitaine that " Palladius
was ordained by Pope Celestine, and sent as first
bishop to the Scots (Irish), who were believers in
Christ." * Very few people, it may be presumed, have
ever heard of Palladius ; and this is natural enough,
as little is known about him. According to one
account, he built three churches in the county of
Wicklow (wooden structures, of course), and then
went away, abandoning his mission owing to the
opposition he encountered. Another story makes

^ The Corcalaulhe, Todd, pp., 200, 201.
* K. Towers, p[). 131, 132.

3 Zimmcr Keliische Suidien, s. 183, who says, "tlie beginning of the
thiid century," which seems loo early. * Trij)., Appendix, p. 493.



THE COM'ERSION OF IRELAND: S. PATRICK, ii

his stay in Ireland only a "few days." i His subse-
quent histoiy is also involved in doubt, one writer
telling us he passed over to Scotland, and after
labouring for a while, died there ; another, that he
suffered martyrdom among the Scots (Irish), " as
ancient saints relate." ^ He is a shadowy personage,
and whatever was his fate, it is clear that his mission
was a failure. His obstacle was, the Life of S. Patrick
in the " Book of Armagh " tells us, that " no man can
receive anything from earth unless it be given him
from heaven." ^

On his abandoning his mission the usual view is
that he was succeeded by S. Patrick, who, some add,
also owed his mission to Celestine. Here the ques-
tion is sometimes asked even by those otherwise well



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