An ecclesiastical history of Ireland, from the first introduction of Christianity among the Irish, to the beginning of the thirteenth century , Compiled from the works of the most esteemed authors ... who have written and published on matters connected with the Irish church; and from Irish annals an online

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1137, (the year marked in the Annals of Maiy's Abbey) whereas
it is likewise certain, that St. Malachy held it for about three
years after said part of 1134. What is here observed serves alsc
to set aside a story, which Colgan has (Tr. Th. ib.) and which
he repeats in the Life of Gelasius, {cap. 8.) viz, that Niell, or Ni-
gellus, again seized upon the see in 1136, on the occasion of St-
Malachy's retiring from it. But St. Malachy was still at Armagh
himself in 1 1 36. Nor does St. Bernard, who mentions the appoint-
ment of Gelasius, say a word about this second usurpation of Ni-
gellus, but, on the contrary, states {cap. 8.) that, after he was
forced to submit to St. Malachy, he was obliged also to remain
quiet for the remainder of his life, qidescere de reliquo in omni
subjectione. Had he made any second attempt, St. Bernai-d
would not have spared him. Ware and Harris (Bishops at Gela-
sius) have the same story, having copied it from Colgan.

(6) Mr/ .c-ZzV^, or, as he spells it, Mac-Leigh, is translated by
Harris {ib.) son of the scholar. Others call him Mac-Liag.
Leighin signifies in Irish a scholar, as Liagh does a physician.
Colgan observes, (Not. 2. Life of Gelasius) that he lias been
called, by antoraomasia, the son of the poet. Dr. O'Conor quotes
{Rer. Bib. Scriptor. 2. Proleg. p. 144.) a passage from Maol
brigte (see Not. 94 to Chap, xxi.) in which he is called Mae


Liag mac mic Ruadri, as if grandson of Roderic, and Mac-
Liag seems to be explained son of the mem of poems.

(7) Ware [ib.) makes him an Augustin Canon, according ta
his supposition that the abbey of Deny belonged to that order.
But that abbey existed for centuries before there were Augustin
Canons in the world, and was of the order of Columb kill. He
tells us elsewhere, that many of the old Irish monasteries
adopted in later times the rule of the Canons of St. Augustin ;
but lie would not have been able to prove, that it was received
at Derry in the times of Gelasius. There was indeed a certain
affinity betv/een the rule of these new Canons, who did not ap-
pear until the eleventh century, and the old general system of
the Irish monk?, which was bottomed on the monastic regula-
tions introduced by St. Patrick from Tours and Lerins ; yet they
were not originally the same, and the ancient Irish rules were
much stricter than that of the Augustin Canons. Harris [ib,)
says ; " It is certain the abbey of Derry owed its filiation to the
house of St. Peter and St. Paul of Armagh, which past question
-.was of the Augustin congregation." The first part of this as-
sertion is quite unfounded. How could the abbey of Derry,
which was founded by Columb-kill in the sixth century, owe
its filiation to a house, that did not exist till the twelfth ? There
is no authentic account of the house or monastery of St. Peter
and Paul at Armagh, until its church was erected by Imar
O'Haedhagain, and consecrated by Celsus in 1126. (See Chap.
XXVI- ^- 8.) And Ware {Antiq. cap. 26.) and Harris [Monas-
teries) were wrong in supposing, that it had been founded by St.
Patrick. Archdall has terribly bungled and confused this matter,
(at Armagh) placing a long string of abbots, and even archbi-
shops, &c. ever since the days of St. Patrick in the monaster}^ of
St. Peter and St. Paul, thus confounding it with the ancient reli-
gious house, which from the very beginning was annexed to the
cathedral. He makes Imar abbot of it in 1100, that is several
years before the church was built and consecrated, although it is
certain from St. Bernard's account of him, that he was not one
at that time. He might have acted as such afterwards, in con-
sequence of having rectived several disciples besides St. I\Iala-
chy, and thus have given rise to the community of Augustin
Canons, which occupied the house of St. Peter and St. Paul. It


has been pretended, that the abbey of DeiTy was a Benedictine
house in the times of Gelasius, and therefore that he belonged
to that order. This is a silly pretension of some Benedictine
writers, who strove to persuade the world, that many of our old
Irish monasteries were of their institution. The attachment of
the Columbians, such as the monks of Derry were to Columb-
kill, was too strong to allow us to suppose, that they would easily
have changed tlieir rule for that of the Benedictines.

(8) The 4 Masters {ap. Colgan in his Life cap. 30.) have 16
years for his administration as successor of St. Columba. Hence
Colgan concluded, that he was appointed abbot of Derry in
1120, on the supposition that he was removed to Armagh in
1136. But, as he was not removed until 1137, his appointment
at Derry was not prior to 1121.

(9) 4 Masters at A. 1137, quoted by Colgan, A A. SS, p.

(10) Life of Gelasius, cap. 5.

(11) 4 Masters, ap. Tr. Th. p. 308.

(12) See Ware and Harris at Archbishops of Cashel. The
Annals of Innisfallen (at A, 1158) call him Donall O'Lonargan,
and state that he was a Dalcassian.

§. II. St. Malachy, being now bishop of Down,
brgco^i his new career with uniting some of his dis-
ciples into a congregation of Reguhir Clerks, appa-
rently of the order called Canons Regular of St.
Angustin. (IS) He now exerted himself with fresh
vigour, acting as a zealous "bishop, enforcing monas-
tic discipline, making ecclesiastical regulations, &c.
Not long after his being stationed at Down he lost
his brother Christian (Gilla-Criost) bishop of Clogher,
who died in 1138, and was buried in the church of
St. Peter and St. Paul at Armagh. His memory
was revered on the 12th of June, the anniversary of
his death. (14) In fact he was a very holy pre-
late, who, although not so celebrated as St. Ma-
lachy, was perhaps not unequal to liim in sanctity
oflife and zeal for justice. (15) In what year he
had been appointed bishop of Clogher I am not able


to ascertain. (16) Moelpatrick O'Drugan, who had
been chief professor of Armagh since IIO7, (17)
died in the said year 1 138, on the 2d of January, in
the island Inis-lodia-cre, alias the Island of the liv-
ings whither he had gone some time before on a pil-
grimage. (18) He is praised as a man highly dis-
tinguished for sanctity and great knowledge of the
Holy scriptures. (19) In the same year Cormac
Mac-Carthy, the friend of St. Malachy, was mur-
dered by his own son in law, Dermod Sugach O' Co-
nor Kerry, at the instigation of Turlogh O' Brian.
(20) He was a prince remarkable for his piety and
liberality, as indeed appears from various instances
already mentioned. (2J ) That was also the year, in
which Gelasius made his first visitation of various parts
of Ireland, particularly Munster, where he was re-
ceived with great honour. (22) Maelbrigid O'Brol-
chan, a very wise and pious man, suffragan bishop
of Armagh, died on the 29th of January, A, Z).
11 3*J. (23) He had belonged to the monastery of
Derry, and it is probable, that Gelasius invited him
thence to assist him in the government of his diocese.
To the same year is assigned the death of the unfor-
tunate Niell, or Nigellus, who seems to have been
one of the last of the usurping family, which soon
became extinct, and who is represented as having
died a great penitent. (24)

(13) St. Bernard (ca/7. 13.) calls the community, formed by St.
Malachy, simply conventum regularium clericorum. It is highly
probable, that he gave them the rule of the Canons regular of St*
Augustin, who by this time v/ere spread far and wide throughout
various parts of Europe, But this is the first occasion that I meet
with of their being mentioned, or seemingly mentioned, as being in
Ireland. Yet there might have been some of them a few years ear-
lier at St. Peter and St. Paul's at Armagh, (compare with Not. 7.)
and Ware says, (see Not. 73 to Chap, xxvi.) that the abbey of
St. Barr near Cork, founded about 1134, belonged to that order.
But I much doubt, whether he found the members of this abbey*


called Augustin canons in any old document of those times. He
was too much in the habit of giving the name of Augustin Canons^
or Canons regular of St, Augustin, to our ancient monks. Thus
he makes even Bangor from its very foundation in the sixth cen-
tury an abbey of Augustin Canons. Hence it appeal's, that he
was unacquainted with the true history and origin of these Canons
concerning which see Notes 133 and 134 to Chap, iv. I may
here observe, by the bye, that Ware is wrong in assigning the ori-
ginal foundation of the monastery of St. Ban* to about 1 134. For
it had existed since the seventh century, and whatever took place
with regiard to it in the twelfth consisted merely in its having been
re-established or re- founded, as Archdall (at Cor/t) justly states
and perhaps in some alteration of its rules.

(14) See Tr. Th.p. 482. and AA, SS. p. 742. Ware thought,
(Bishops of ClogherJ that the year 1138, marked for his death
might have been in reality 1139. But at the times we are now
treating of there is no necessity for adding a year to those of the
Irish annals.

(15) St. Bernard, cap. 10. A great encomium is paid to him
also by the 4 Masters, at A. 1138.

(16) Harris (Bishops of ClogherJ assigns his promotion to A
1 126. I do not know what reason he had for this date except that
in a list of distinguished persons of the church of Clogher {ap. A A.
SS. p. 742.) one Muredach O'Cuillen, who was killed in 1 126, is
placed next before him. But this O'Cuillen is called only archdea-
con of Clogher. Ware has (ib.) a Mac-Mael-Josa O'CulIean as
bishop of Clogher and the immediate predecessor of Christian,
but does not tell us in what year he died.

(17) See Chap.:iiXYi,§.2.

(18) Tr, Th. p, 304 and Ind, Chron, The year of his death
was the second of the incumbency of Gelasius, which confirms it*
having been A. D. 1 138. Yet Colgan, persisting in his hypothesis
of Gelasius having been raised to Armagh in 1 1 36, has changed
(Life of Gelasius, cap, 9.) 1138 into 1137, notwithstanding his
assigning O'Drugan's death to 1138 in Tr. Th. loco, citt. Inis-
locha-cre is called also by other names, sucfi as Monaincha, and
is an island in the great bog of Monela, county of Tipperary, about
three miles from Roscrea, and avc shall have occasion to treat of it


(19) Tr. Th. and Life of Gelasius, locc. citt.

(20) Annalsoflnnisfallenat J. 1138.

(21) Dr. O'Conor (Rer, Hib. Scripior. 2 Proleg. ;;. 141.) calls
Cormac M'Carthy not only king but bishop of Munster. He
quotes Maelbrigte, (of whom see Not. 94 to Chap, xxi.) who styles
him rig escop Muman, But if escop mean bishop, as Dr. O'Conor
thinks, it cannot in this passage be taken in a strict literal sense.
Escop is not in several Irish dictionaries, ex. c. those of Lhuyd and
O'Reilly, who have no other word for bishop than eashog or easbug.
O'Brien, however, has, besides easbog^ also eascop. Yet, admit-
ting that rig escop signifies kijig bishop, either Maelbrigte was
mistiiken, or, what is more probable, he gave Cormac the title of
bishop in an honoraiy" manner on account of his piety and atten-
tion to ecclesiastical matters, similar to that, in which Constantine
the great was styled bishop. Or, perhaps, escop indicates an allu-
sion to his having taken a pilgrim's staff at Lismore. (See Not. 51
to Chap. XXVI.) That Cormac Mac-Cartliy was not a real bishop
is evident from the Annals of Innisfallen, which often make men-
tion of him, as a king, a waiTior, &c. Had he been also a bishop,
it is impossible but that we would find him so called scmev/Iiere in
said annals. Or would not St. Bernard, who speaks so highly of
Mm, have told us that he was not only a king but a bishop?
Keating relates {History, S^c, B. 2. p. 103. Dublin ed.) his mur-
der j and Lynch ( Cambr. ever s. cap. 21.) treats of him rather
minutely ; but neither of them has a word about his having been
a bishop.

(22) Life of Gelasius, c::p. 10. This is mentioned also in Tr,
Th.p. 305. where, through a typographichal error, 1139 appears
instead of 1138, which, as O'Flaherty observes, (MS. not. ib.) is
the year marked by the 4 INIastcrs.

(23) Ib. cap.U, and Tr. Th.p. 305.

(24) Ib. St. Bernard states, (Vit. S. Mai. cap. 8.) that the
whole of that generation was swept away within a short time after
their attempts against St. Malachy.

§. III. Crowds of people of various ranks flocked
to St. Malacliy at Down, and placed themselves
under his direction. Having establisiicd several ec-
clesiastical regulations, he thought it not safe to act


upon them without the authority of the Apostolic
see, and was particularly anxious to procure for the
see of Armagh the pallium, with which it had not
at any time been as yet honoured. (25) He thought
that, as it had become very usual in those times to
distinguish metropolitan sees by the use of it, Ar-
magh ought to enjoy the same privilege, as an an-
cient church, and not inferior in respectability to
most of the other metropolitan ones. He wished
also to obtain another for the see of Cashel and to
get confirmed by the Pope the act of Celsus, who
had raised it to the metropolitical rank. (26) Con-
sequently he determined on going to Rome, but
was strenuously opposed by the brethren and the
chiefs and people of the country, who could not
bear the idea of his absence, particularly as his bro-
ther Christian of Clogher had died a short time
before ; and they dreaded some great desolation, if
after having lost one pillar of the Church tlie coun-
try should be dejprived of the assistance of the other.
At length, however, he succeeded in their letting
him depart ; but, before he set out, he provided for
the see of Clogher by appointing to it and conse-
crating Edan or Aedan, one of his disciples, whom
he considered the fittest person for that situation.
Edan is suniamed O'^Kellij or O^Killedy^ and held
that see for many years. (27) St. Malachy took his
route by the way of England, after having landed
in Scotland. When arrived at York, he was recog-
nized by a holy priest, named Sycar, who had never
seen him before, but to whom it had been revealed
that he was to pass that way. Wallelv, or Wallen,
a nobleman, and then prior of a community of Re-
gular brethren, waited upon St. Malachy at York,
and observing that he had a large suite, among
whom were five priests, and only three horses, of-
fered him the one he rode himself, which the saint
accepted of. Continuing his journey, and travel-
ling through France, he stopped for a while at


Clairvaux, where he became acquainted with St.
Bernard, who was most highly deh'ghted by his so-
ciety. St. Malachy was much pleased with this
establishment, and the brethren were greatly edified
by his presence and conversation. Taking his leave
of St. Bernard and the brethren with the warmest
feelings of attachment, he pursued his course towards
Italy, and having crossed the Alps wrought a mi-
racle at Ivrea by curing a child of his host, that was
at the point of death. (28)

(25) St. Bernard, ib. cap. 10. Joceline among other fables of
his concerning St. Patrick pretends, that he received the pallium
at Rome. This nonsense has been sufficiently refuted already,
Chap. VII. §. 1. and ib. Not. 2. Colgan, however, swallowed it,
and has endeavoured in a really unlearned manner to support it,
Tr. Th. p. 306. seqq. But I was surprised to find that M'Mahon,
who lived in times when the origin and nature of the pallium, as
granted to archbishops or bishops, were so universally known, could
have undertaken to defend this silly paradox in various parts of his
Jus p'imatiale Armacanum, particularly §. 219. seqq. Surely he
ought to have been aware, that in St. Patrick's days the pallium,
of which we are now treating, was not used in the Western church
even by the Popes themselves ; and it is a very lame evasion to
to say, that, although it ceased to be sent to the archbishops of
Armagh during the Danish troubles, yet they had received it in
the first times of that church. Now St. Bernard wi'ites ; ** Metro-
politicae sedi deerat adhuc et defuerat ab initio pallii usus."
Here M'Mahon comes forward with a wretched quibble, distin-
guishing ab initio from in initio, as if St. Patrick's times were to
be exempted from the general and plain assertion of St. Bernard.
By why thus exempt them, whereas the pallium was not intro-
duced into the Western church until many years after St. Patrick's
death ? But, if M'Mahon argued badly on this point, Peter Tal-
bot of Dublin, against whom he wiote, was no less or rather more
to blame for striving in his Primatus Diibliniensis to conclude from
the want of the pallium, that therefore Armagh was not the pri-
matial see of Ireland. Did he not know, that various gradations
of ecclesiastical authority existed before the pallium was used,


and that there have been hundreds of metropohtans, who never
wore it ? St. Ambrose of Milan, who received no pallium, en-
joyed as much jurisdiction as if he had been decorated with twenty
of them. Nothing is clearer from the whole tenor of our ecclesi-
astical history than that the see of Armagh was the only truly me-
tropolitical one until Cashel was added to it, yet as subordinate.
(See Chap. xxv. §. 13.) St. Bernard is quite explicit on this sub-
ject, where mentioning an injunction of Celsus he says ; ( Vit. S.
Mai. cap. 7.) " Sancti Patricii auctoritate praecepit, cujus reve-
rentia et honore tamquam apostoli illius gentis, qui totam pa-
triam convertisset ad fidem, sedes ilia, in qua et vivens praefuit
et mortuus requiescit, in tauta ab initio cmictis veneratione ha-
betur, ut non modo episcopi et sacerdotes^ et qui de clero sunt,
sed etiam regum ac principium universitas subjecta sit metropoji-
tano in omni obedientia (ecclesiastica), et unus ipse omnibus
praesit." Poor Ledwich took upon himself to meddle with this
question (Antiq. p. 391.) where amidst lies and inconsistencies he
quotes against the priinacy of Armagh a passage of William Neu-
brigensis, who says, that '• the prime see of Ireland is said to be
at Armagh in honour of St. Patrick, &c. Is not this a proof of
its having been so? But, he argues, the words, is said, show
that William knew nothing of Armagh but from report. Be it so ;
for he was an Englishman. Does it follow, that the report was
false ? What think of a scribbler, who pretends, that St. Pa-
trick was not heard of at Armagh until the 9th century, when in-
troduced by the Danes ?

(26) St. Bernard, iL That the new metropolis alluded to by
him was Cashel, has been proved. Not. 84 to Chap. xxv.

(27) Ware and Harris, Bishops at Clogher.

(28) St. Bernard ib.

§. IV. St. Malachy, being arrived in Rome, waited
on the then Pope Innocent II. by whom he was most
kindly received. The first favour he asked of him
was permission to retire to Clairvaiix, and to spend
there the remainder of his life ; but this the Pope
refused to agree to. During the time of his stay at
Rome, which was one month, he visited tiie lioly
places, frequenting them for the sake of prayer.


Meanwhile the Pope made many enquiries from him
and his companions concerning tlie manners and
customs of the Irish, the state of their churches,
and how St. Malachy had exerted himself. He
then appointed him Legate apostolic for all Ireland ;
for Gillebert, tlie former one, had communicated
to the Pope, that on account of his great age and
feebleness he was no longer able to attend to the
duties of that office. St. Ma!achy then applied for the
confirmation of the new metropolitan see, (Cashel)
which the Pope immediately granted ; but on his
applying also for the palliums, the Pope replied ;
" This is a matter, which must be transacted with
with greater solemnity. Do you, summoning the
bishops and clergy and the chiefs of your country,
celebrate a general council, and, after ye will have
all agreed on tliis point, apply for the pallium by
means of respectable persons, and it shall be given
to you." (29) Then taking the mitre off his head
he placed it on that of St. Malachy, and gave him
the stole and maniple, which he used to wear when
officiating ; and saluting him in the kiss of peace
dismissed him with his benediction. Were w^e to
believe the Registry of Clogher, St. Malachy ob-
tained from this Pope, that the fourth part of the
ecclesiastical property or dues throughout all Ergall
or Oriel should be assigned to the bishops of Clog-
her, which was situated in that territory. I doubt
very much, whether the saint, who, as will be seen,
had no fixed income for himself, asked for any such
favour. (30) On his return to Ireland he called
again at Clairvaux, and regretting that he was not
allowed to remain there, left four of his companions
in the monastery for the purpose of learning its
rules and regulations, and of their being in due
time qualified to introduce them into Ireland. He
said on this occasion ; ** They will serve us for seed,
and in this seed nations will be blessed, even those
nations, which from old times have heard of the


name of monk, but have not seen a monk." (3i)
Proceeding on his journey he arrived safely in Scot-
land, where he was honourably received by the
king, David, and requested by him to cure his
son Henry, who was dangerously ill/ The saint
blessed some water, and sprinkled Henry with it,
saying to him ; Child, take courage, thou wilt not
die this time ; and on the next day he recovered
his health. Hence both David and Henry became
greatly attached to St. Malachy, and continued so
as long as he lived. Anxious to arrive soon in Ire-
land he declined their invitation to remain with
them for some days, and on his way to the place of
embarkation cured a dumb girl and an insane wo-
man. Being delayed at that place, which was called
Lapasperi^ for some daj^s, waiting for a passage, he
constructed an oratory there, which he surrounded
with a trench, and blessed the intermediate space,
that it might serve as a cemetery. This spot was
afterwards much resorted to, as a place of prayer,
and where favours might be obtained from the Al-
mighty. (32)

(29) St. Bernard, cap. 11. The Pope's object was to show,
that the granting of palhums should be considered as a great fa-
vour, and tiiat the obtaining of them required more than the re-
quest of any individual bishop. The rule, requiring that every arcli-
bishop should be invested with the pallium, was not as yet estab-
lished. In what passed between the Pope and St, iVIalachy on
this occasion there is not the most distant allusion to the strange
story of the saint's reason for wishing to get palls for Ireland hav-
ing been to get rid of the claims of Canterbury, (Compare with
Not. 8.5. to Chap, xxiv.) It is laughable to hear Ledwich {p,
438.) resting the Pope's refusal to grant the pallium on his ap-
prehension that the wearer would be insulted by the Irish clergy.
So ignorant was he of the history of the transaction, that fib.)
he represents St. Malachy as archbishop of Armagh, wlien he
applied for the palls, although he had left Armagh two or three
years before that time, and was then only bishop of Down.
YOl., IV. I


(30) Tliis stateniLMit may be seen in Ware and Harris's {Bi-
shops of Clogher at Christian). If true, it is odd, that St. Ber-
nard has not a word about it, notwithstanding his making men-
tion both of Christian and Edan. I suspect it is on a par with
the pretty list of bishops of Clogher, which we find in said Re-
gistiy. (See Not. 5. to Chap.xu.)

(31) St. Bernard, i/j. It is difficult to determine, wliether by
the nations, who had not seen a monk, St. r\Ialachy meant na-
tions different from the Irish, among whom the order of Clairvaux
would be propagated, or alluded to some parts of Ireland, in
which there had not been monks before for a long time, but in
which communities of that order would be placed. Be this as it
Xnav, neither he nor St. Bernard could have meant all Ireland ;
for they well knew, that there had been and was still abundance
of monasteries in Ireland, and St. Bernard himself makes men-
tion of many of them, particularly in older times. Ledwich fp.
439) misquoting St. Bernard's words cai-ps at him as if he al-
luded to all Ireland, and adds in confirmation the following
words from a letter of his, written some time after to St. Malachy

Online LibraryUnknownAn ecclesiastical history of Ireland, from the first introduction of Christianity among the Irish, to the beginning of the thirteenth century , Compiled from the works of the most esteemed authors ... who have written and published on matters connected with the Irish church; and from Irish annals an → online text (page 10 of 45)