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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quities, (loc. cit.J he marks no date for it, and say^, that it w^


founded by Maurice Mac-Loglilin, king of Ireland ; and at Bi-
shops of Raphoe (Gilbert O'Caran) he assigns Maurice's charter
to about 1160. A strong difficulty, however, occurs from its being
said, that Finn Mac-Kienan, alias Mac-Tiarcain, bishop of Kil^
dare, who had assisted at the council of Kelisin 1152, (see Chap.
XXVII. §. 14. and ib. Not.) had been abbot of the house of Newrv
Jr. Th. p. 630. where he is called son of Gorman, and Ware
Bishops of Kildare, who makes him abbot of Viride lignum, that
is, NewTy. Now if Finn had been abbot there before he became
a bishop, the abbey must have been founded before 1 1 52, which
would make it earlier than even the Annals of Mary's abbey
have it. It is difficult to reconcile these statements. Might Finn,
although bishop of Kildare, have been appointed to the govern-
ment of the abbey of Newry after its foundation by Murtogh
Mac Loghlin ? It was not unusual for bishops to superintend mo-
nasteries. For instance St. Malachy, while bishop of Connor,
was also abbot of Bangor. Or may we suppose, that Finn some
time before his death resigned his see and withdrew to Newry ?
In either of these suppositions the monastery must have existed
before 1160, that being the year, in which Finn died. Or, ad-
mitting that he was an abbot before he was raised to the episco-
pacy, might it be that he governed the monastery called Ather-
athin, which seems to have been prior to that of Newry, and of
which the latter was perhaps a continuation. In this case it may
be conjectured, that Finn was called abbot of Newry, inasmuch
as the monks of Atherathin might have been rem^oved to it. Be
it as it may, and supposing that Finn had been an abbot some
time or other, the foundation of the abbey of Newry cannot, I
think, be placed earlier than about 1157.

(35) The date marked for Kyrie eleison in the Annals of Mar}''s
abbey is A. 1154, and is followed by Ware {A7itiq. cap. 26.)
Harris, &c. Odomey is near the river Brick in the barony of
Clanmaurice. I suppose it was on this account that Alemand at-
tributed the foundation of this monastery to the Fitzmaurice fa-
mily. Was he so ignorant as not to know, that there v.cre no
Fitzmaurices in Ireland in the year 1154?

(36) Tr.T/i. p. 309.

(37) Ware, Bishops at Cloyne. Harris adds, tliat in the An-
nals of Innisfallen he is called Dubreiut abbot of Cluninvana.


(38) Ware, ib. at Kildare. See more above Not. 34. The
Annals of Innisfallen have his death also at A. 1160.

(39) Said Annals ib. and also {A A. SS. p. 52 and 200.) He
died on the 1 7th of December.

§. VI. The death of several Irish prelates are
marked at A. 1161. Among them was Gregory,
the first archbishop of Dublin, who departed tiiis
life on the 8th of October, after a long inciuribency
of forty years. (40) He is represented as having
been a prudent and learned man. Likewise the first
archbishop of Tuam, Aedan O'Hoisin, who is much
praised for his piety, learning, and liberah'ty, died
in this year, and was buried in his own cathedral
under a monument inscribed with an Irish epitaph.
He was immediately succeeded by Cathoh'cus or
Cadla O'Dubhai. (41 ) Next comes Teige or Thady
O'Lonargan, bisliop of Killaloe, a learned and cha-
ritable man. (42) Brendan the bishop of Kerry or
Ardfert, who had attended at the council of Kells,
died also in the same year on the 2'2d of September,
and was buried at Ardfert. (43)

The see of Dublin being now vacant, several
competitors started for it ; but the electors fixed their
eyes upon the holy abbot of Glendalocb, Laurence
O' Toole, who for a long time resisted their proposal
and wishes, but at length was forced to submit, and
was consecrated archbishop in the cathedral of Dub-
lin by Gelasius the primate, accompanied by many
bishops. (44) This was in the year 116^2. (45)
The original name of this great and good man was
Larca?i, (46) and he was of the illustrious house of
the O'Tuathals, being the youngest son of Muriar-
tach O'Tuathal, prince of Imaly, or Imaile, in the
now county of Wicklow. (4',) His mother was of
the equally great family of the Hy-Brins, now usu-
ally called Byrne, (48) Lorcan or Laurence re-
mained with his parents until he was about ten years
old, when he was given as a hostage by his father ta


the king Diermit. (49) This wicked king bore a
great hatred to Muriartach, and sent the boy to a
barren district, where he was treated with great
cruelty. His father, on being apprized of it, seized
upon twelve of Diermit's soldiers, and threatened to
put them to death, unless his son was restored to
him. Diermit alarmed at this menace, and knowing
that Muriartach's territory was impregnable and could
defy all his power, thought it adviseable to dismiss
Laurence, and sent him not to his father, but to the
bishop of Glendaloch under the condition of getting
back his twelve soldiers. The good bishop kept
Laurence with himself for V2 days, placing him un-
der the care of his chaplain, w^ho treated him very
kindly, and instructed him in the principles of the
Christian doctrine. Laurence, who was at that time
J 2 years old, then returned to his father's residence.

(40) Ware, ib. at Dublin. In divers Irish Annals Gregory's
death is placed in 1 162. But this is a mistake, owing to their
having confounded the year of it with that of the accession of his
/Successor, St. Laurence O'Toole, which was in 1162.

~(4?1) Ware, ib.nt Tuam.

(42) Ware {ib. at Killaloe) assigns his death to 1161 ; but the
Annals of Innisfallen mark it at .4. 1160.

(43) Ware {ib. at Ardfert) calls him Mel-Brendan O'Ronayi,
and strives to confound him with Mac-Ronan, bishop of Clon-
fert. But we have seen, {Not. 100 to Chap, xxvii.) that he was
mistaken on this point. Harris adds, that Keating called him
Maol Breanuin O'Ruanain. His wretched translator has in-
deed these names, which he took from Ware with some alteration ;
but Keating himself has not, who gave no other name to that bishop
of Kerry than Brendan, as appears from the quotations of his ori-
ginal text by Colgan.

(44) Vita S. Laurcntlly cap. 10. This Life was written by a
Canon Regular of Eu, in the diocese of Rouen, on the frontiers of
Normandy, not many years after the saint had died in the mo-


nastery of that place. It has been published by Surius, and re-
publislicd by Messingham in his Florilegiurn.

(4?5) Four Masters ap, Tr. Th. p. 309. Ware, Archbishops of
Dublin at Laurence 0^ Toole.

(46) Four Masters, ib» Lorcan was latinized into Laurentius*
In the quoted Life fcap, 2.) there is a ridiculous story about his
having been called Laurentius from laurusy laurel.

(47) In said Life (cap. 1.) his father is called Muriartach
O'Toheily and is made king of Leinster. This is a mistake ; for
the O'Tuathal country was far from comprizing all that province.
In Butler's Life of St. Laurence, at 14 November, the principality
of Muriertach or INIaurice is said to have been in the vicinity of
Dublin. But Imaile, or, as usually called, the Glen of Imaile,
is several miles from Dublin, lying to the S. W. of Glendaloch,
and stretching to near the town of Donard.

(48) The author of the Vit. S. L. says (cap. 1.) that the saint's
mother was called Inian Ivrien, that is, as he adds, daughter of
a prince. But this is not the meaning of the words, which ought
to be translated daughter of Hy-Brin or O'Brin, from the Irish
Ingean, pronounced hke Iniaii, a daughter, and Ivrien, that is,
Hy-Brin. It is strange, that Harris did not see into this, when
quoting ( Archbishops of Dublin at Laurence^ 8^c.) the passage
of that author. In a note to the Life in Butler I find, instead of
Hy-Brin or O'Brin, alias Byrne, the name written 0' Brian.
This is wrong ; for the O'Brians were a quite distinct family, being
of the Dalcassian princes of Munster, whereas the O'Brins were
originally a Leinster house, supposed to be descended from the ce-
lebrated king Brandubh, who was killed about the year 602.

(49) This Diermit is usually, and I think justly, supposed to
have been the famous Dermod Mac-Morough, king of Leinster,
although Usher (Syllog. Not. ad No. 48.) makes him a dif-
ferent person. But 1 believe he was mistaken. Mac Morough
was king of Leinster at the time that St. Laurence was ten years

(.50) Vit. S. L. cap. 3. The then bishop of Glendaloch was
apparently the immediate predecessor of Gillana-Naomh Laig-
nech, who assisted at the council of Kells ; but liis name is not


§. VII. After some days his father, taking Lau-
rence with him, paid a visit to the bishop of Glen-
daloch, and proposed to him to inquire, by casting
ing lots, which of his sons he shoukl dedicate to the
ecclesiastical state. Laurence, on hearing this, is
reported to have laughed, and said ; " Father, there
is no necessity for casting lots ; if you allow me, I
will embrace it with pleasure." The father smiled,
and the bishop and others present w^ere rejoiced to
find, that a boy of such higii lineage should offer
himself for the service of the Church. His father
then, consenting with joy, and taking him by the
right hand, offered him to God and St. Coemhgen
the patron of Glendaloch, recommending him to the
care of the bishop for his instruction in learning and
piety. Under his tuition and protection Laurence
made great progress in the religious duties and ac-
quirements necessary for a clergyman ; but after
some years he lost this worthy friend and master,
who was carried off by death. [5 1 ) Yet he still per-
severed in his pious pursuits, and continued to im-
prove in virtue, so that after some time he was, w^hen
25 years of age, elected abbot of the monastery of
Glendaloch, which was distinct from the bishopric.
(52) This abbey was very rich, and it had been the
custom to choose for its abbots men of the highest
families, who might be able to protect the adjacent
country. Laurence made the best possible use of
the wealth of the monastery, distributing it among
crowds' of distressed and poor persons, who were af-
flicted by a dreadful famine, that raged throughout
all that district for four years. (53) He used to pro-
vide them, by means of his monks, with corn and
other necessaries^, and his liberality was so extensive,
that at length, the riches of the abbey not being suf-
ficient for" the wants of the poor, be distributed
among them a treasure, which his father had left
with him in deposit. He was, however, as great
and holy men usually are, reviled by certain false


and envious brethren, but who with all their malig-
nity could not find any thing in his conduct deserv-
ing of reproach. By dint of prayers he cleared the
country from some powerful robbers, who were over-
taken by the divine vengeance. Towards the end of
the first four years of his administration tranquillity
was restored, and a very abundant harvest ensued ;
yet Laurence still continued his largesses to the poor,
and set about building churches. About this time
the then bishop of Glendaloch died, and every one
called out for Laurence as his successor. But he re-
fused to accept of the appointment, excusing him-
self on, his not having as yet reached the age required
for a bishop. (.54) Some years after these occur-
rences Gregory, archbishop of Dublin, died, and
Laurence was, as we have seen, appointed his suc-
cessor. (55)

(51) lb. capp. 4. 5.

(52) In Butler's Life this matter is not stated correctly. In
it we read ^ " Upon the death of" the bishop of Glendaloch, who
was at the same time abbot of the monastery, Laurence, though
but 25 years old, was chosen abbot, and only shunned the epis-
copal dignity by alleging, that the canons require in a bisho'p thirty
years of age." Now in the first place there is no authority for say-
ing that the bishop was also abbot of the monastery. What the
Latin Life has is merely, that there were in the church of
Glendaloch both an episcopal see and an abbey ; but it does not
state, that any bishop possessed them both together. On the
contrary it constantly represents them as quite distinct, and in-
forms us, (cap. 6.) that the abbey was far more wealthy than the
see. Nor had Butler any reason for supposing, that it was upon
the death of the bishop that Laui-ence was chosen abbot ; and
probably a considerable time elapsed between said death, and
Laurence's promotion to tlie abbacy. Next comes a great mistake
in Butler's imagining, that the bishop, after whose death Laurence
sjiunned the episcopal dignity, was the same as the one, by whom
he had been instructed, and after wliose death he became abbot ^
M if the appointment to the abbacy and the oiFer of the bishopric


Iiad taken place at the same time. Laurence was, as will be soon
seen, abbot for four years before he refused to accept of the see,
that became vacant at the end of them by the death of the bishop,
who consequently was not the one, who had been his master, but
his successor.

(5S) I do not know why Butler has four months instead of four
j/ea?'S ; for in Messingham's edition of the Latin Life four j'ears
are mentioned in cap. 6. and cap. 9.

(54) VH. S. L. cap. 10. Laurence was then only 29 years old,
having been appointed abbot at the age of 25. That foul-
mouthed liar Ledwich gives, ( Antiq. &;c. p. 48.) as the reason of
Laurence not having accepted of the see of Glendaloch, that
*' his ambition aspired to an higher dignity — the pall and the see
" of Dublin, and he soon attained them." But he did not soon
attain them ; for some years intervened before he became arch-
bishop of Dublin. What idea could he have had at that time
of his ever being chosen to govern the Danish city of Dublin, he
a Tuathal, an 9'Toole ? It is as clear as day light that, instead of
having an eye to that situation, he was forced to submit to it, the
proposal relative to it having come, without his knowledge, from
the electors of Dublin. The fact is, that Laurence did not wish to
be a bishop at all. Many a conscientious man may agree to being
made abbot; but holy men do not aspire to bishoprics. Hams
was niuch more honest, who says, (Archbishops of Dublin at
Laurence) that " he could not have the opportunities of exerting
his strong disposition to charity, when bishop of Glendaloch, as he
liad when abbot ; because the revenues of the bishopric were in-
finitely inferior to those of the abbacy." The bishop, in whose
stead it was proposed to appoint Laurence, was, I am sure, Gilla
na-Naomh, mentioned above Not. 50. In what year he died I do
not find; but it must have been between 1152 and 1161. the year
of the death of Gregory of Dublin.

[55 ) Butler is wrong in stating that St. Laurence was only
thirty years of age about the time of Gregory's death. This can-
not agree with the Latin life, which states [cap, 10.) that a no short
time, 7ion breve tempus, elapsed between the time of Laurence's
refusing the see of Glendaloch and that of the death of Gregory.
Now Laurence was 29 years old when he made that refusal, and
in Butler's hypothesis only one year would have passed between it



and said death. But surely so short a space would not have been
called a non breve tempus ; or how could the author of said Life
have said (cap. 33.) that he died full of days, plenus dierum, if he
was only about thirty when he became archbishop of Dublin ? For
in this case he would not have outlived the age of fifty, whereas
his incumbency began in 1162, and he died in 1180. Accord-
ingly Harris was right (ib. ) in reckoning some years between his
refusal of the see of Glendaloch and the death of Gregory.

§. VIII. In the same year 11G2 Gelasius of Ar-
magh lield a synod at Clane in the now county of
Kildare, which was attended by 26 bishops, many
abbots, and other clergymen. After enacting seve-
ral decrees relative to Church discipline and mo-
rals, it was ordered, with the unanimous consent of
the synod, that for the future no one should be ad-
mitted a Fer-leglmin, that is, a professor or teacher
of theology, in any church in Ireland, unless lie had
previously studied for some time at Armagh. (56)
"When returned to his diocese Gelasius did not re-
main idle, but immediately made a visitation of it,
exerting himself most strenuously to correct what-
ever abuses fell in his way. (57) To said year 1 162
is assigned the death of Cathasac a scholastic of
Derry. (58) As soon as St. Laurence was placed on
the see of Dublin, Dermot Mac-Murrogh, king of
Leinster, forced upon the monks of Glendaloch a
certain person as their abbot, in opposition to the
reclamations and ancient privilege of the clergy and
people, who used to elect the abbot of that monas-
tery. But he was afterwards put out, and in his
stead was appointed Thomas, a nephew of the saint,
and an excellent and learned young man. (59)
Meanwhile St. Laurence was busily employed in at-
tending to the government of his diocese, being par-
ticularly anxious for the regular and constant cele-
bration of the Church offices. Not long after his
accession he induced the Canons of Christ-church,
who were until then Secular canons, to become


Canons Regular of the congregation of Aroasia.
(60) He himself took the habit of the order, which
Jie used to wear under his pontifical dress over a
hair shirt, and observed its rules as much as he
could, observing silence at the stated hours, and
almost always attending along with them at the
midnight offices, after which he often remained
alone in the church, praying and singing psalms
until day light, when he used ,to take a round in the
church-yard or cemetery, chaunting the prayers for
the faithful departed. Whenever it was in his
power, he ate with the Canons in the refectory,
practising, how^ever, austerities, which their rule
did not require ; for he always abstained from flesh-
meat, and on Fridays either took nothing at all, or,
at most, some bread and water. Yet occasionally he
entertained rich and respectable persons, treating
them sumptuously, while he contrived to touch the
poorest sort of food, and, instead of wine, to drink
wine and w^ater, so much diluted that it had merely
the colour of wine. And as to the poor there were
no bounds to his charity. Among his other acts of
beneficence he took care to see fed in his presence a
certain number of them every day, sometimes sixty
or forty, and never fewer than thirty. He delighted
in retiring now and then to Glendaloch, and used to
spend some time, even to the number of forty days,
in an adjoining cave, famous for the memory of St.
Coemhgen or Kevin, in fasting, praying and con-
templation. (6l)

{56) Thus the Life of Gelasius, cajj. 23. and the 4 Masters ap,
Tr. Th. p. 309. But, according to certain anonymous annaJs,
quoted by Harris, {Bishops at Gelasius) the decree was, as lie ex-
plains it, that they should have heen fostered, or else adopted by
Ari7iagk. As to fostered it means that they must have studied at
Armagh, conformably to the phrase alummis, which is used for a
student in a university or college ; thus ex, c. alumnus ujiiversitatis
Parisiensis signifies a student of the university of Paris. But the


words, adopted by Armagh, indicate a class of persons, who bad
not actually studied tliere, but who should be approved of by, to
use a modern technical term, the faculty of Armagh, and autho-
rized bv it to teach theology publicly, in the same manner as in
our tinies degrees and diplomas are taken out at universities, and
in many of them ai'e granted, after previous examination, to pei'-
sons, v»ho had studied elsewhere. It Is very probable, that the
decree of Clane did iK)t require, that all those, who might after-
wards be appointed public professors of theology, should have ac-
tually studied at Armagh, and that it was sufficient that, on their
capability being ascertained, they had been approved of by the
president and doctors of that distinguished school. It is difficult
to think, that, while thci'e Avere several other grea^ schools in Ire-
land, ex. c. Lismore, Clonmacnois, Clonard, &c. persons of as-
piring genius, bent on impro\ing themselves In tlieolog)', would
have been forced fo repair from all parts of the island to Armagh
to prosecute their studies there. It was a sufficiently high compli-
ment to its school or university to gi-ant it the exclusive privilege
of approving of and authorizing persons to become public teachers.
The decree, understood in this manner, was a very wise one, inas-
much as it served to uphold uniformity of doctrine,

(.57) Life, &c. cap. 25. (58) Tr. Th. p. 632.

(59) ^ita S. S. cap. 16. The time, at which Thomas became
abbot of Glendaloch, is not marked ; but, Archdall (at Glendaloch)
assigns it to ^. D. ] 162. This is a mistake, as appears not only
from the Life now refeiTed to, but likewise from the circumstance,
that in or about 1166 the abbot of Glendaloch was Benignus,
whose name is signed to the foundation charter granted at that
time to the priory of All Saints near Dublin. (See Harris, Bishops^
p. 375.) Benignus was undoubtedly the abbot forced upon the
monks by king Dermot. It cannot be supposed that Thomas was
abbot prior to Benignus ; for it is plain from said Life, that Thomas
held the abbacy for several years ; and consequently he must be
placed after Benignus. Archdall {ib.) has a strange statement, re-
lative to that abbey, expressed in these words ; " A. 1173. Earl
Richard, king Edward's lieutenant in Ireland, granted to Thomas,
his clerk, the abbey and parsonage of Glendaloch, and the lands,"
&c. In tlie first place ihere was no king Ed^vard at that time.
By Earl Richard, Archdall must have meant Strongbow; but


how will this agree with his telling us immediately after, that the
English adventarers plundered Glendaloch in 1 176 ? Which shows, ,
that it did not belong to any Englishman at that period. Dr Led-
wich, quoting the Black book of Dublin, gives (A ntiq, Sfc p. 48. )
a more minute account of this pretended transaction. He says,
that *' in 1173 Richard Strongbow — granted to Thomas, nephew
of Laurence O'Toole, the abbey and parsonage of Glendaloch,'*
and that the charter was signed by Eva, wife of Strongbow, and
other witnesses. If the Black book contains what he states, it
cantains a forgery. Thomas, the nephew, &c. did not get that
abbey from Strongbov/, but, as expressly mentioned in the above
quoted Life floe, cit.) from the clergy and people of Glendaloch.
The Dr. himself tells us, that one of the witnesses to that deed
marked I-uke, archbishop of Dublin, whose incumbency began in
1228. He would fain change Luke into Laurence^ th^t is, St.
Laurence O'Toole. But the truth is, that this was a gi-ant not of
Richard Strongbow, but of Ilichai'd de Burgo, who was chief go-
vernor of Ireland in 1227 and 1228. (See in Ware's and Harris's
Antiq. the Table of the Chief GoveinorSy S^-c. f)f Ireland.) The
fact is thus related by Archdall fib. J; " A. 1228. Earl Richard,
" king Henry lll.'s Lieutenant in Ireland, granted to Thomas,
'* his clerk, the abbey and parsonage of Glendaloch, together with
" all its appurtenances, lands, and dignities, situate witliin and
" without the city in pure and perpetual alms." The deed is in
Harris's MS, Colleetmiea at A. D. 1228, copied from the Black
book of Dublin, Lib. nig. Archiep. Dublin, fol. 92, the very leaf,
to which Ledwich refers. It mentions the numerous lands, &c.
&c. and privileges belonging to the abbey, according as king Der-
niot had testified, " sicut in verbo veritatis Diermicius rex ies-
tatus est." Richard is called simply Count without any addition
indicating, that he was the same as Strongbow. Thomas is called
his beloved and spiritual clerk, vvithout the least hint, that he A^'as
the nephev.' of Laurence O'Toole. The names of the witnesses
are Luke, archbishop of Dublin, the countess Eva, Walter de Ri-
dell, Meiler son of Henry, and Nicholas a clerk. The Dr. makes
Eva the same as the wife of Strongbow ; but there was another
Eva, her grand-daughter, and daughter of William Marshal earl of
Pembroke. I do not find in Harris any grant made in 1173 by
Strongbow, relative to Glendaloch. It is plain, notwithstanding

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 16 of 45)