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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to Chajj. VI.) in the now county of LondondeiTy, and that his re-
mains were thence conveyed to Derry, and buried there, &c.
This is, I am sure, a mistake, which Han-is fell into by applying
to Amlave O'Murid what Vv'are and himself have (at Derry) in
the very same words concerning Amlave O'CofFy, a bishop of
Derry, who also died in 1185. Ware says, that he found nothing
more recorded of Amlave O'Murid than the year of his death.
What would have brought him to die at Duncruthen ; or, if he
did die there, would not his remains have been conveyed to Ar-
magh ?

(28) The same ib. at Armagh.

(29) Ware, Annals at A. 1184'. Compare with Chap. xxix. §.
15. and ib. Not. 102.

(30) Giraldus (Topogr. Hib, Dist. 2. c. 50.) condemns their
conduct as sacrilegious, and states that Philip of Worcester, when
carrying away the spoil, was struck with a sudden fit, subifa pas-
sioncy from which he hardly escaped. He adds, that two horses
of Hugh Tyrrel, who was one of that plundering party, were
burnt in Down, which so frightened him, that he sent back his
share of the booty, and that the greatest part of that town was
destroyed by fire.

(31) Ware, Annals at A. 1184, and Antiq. cap. 26. at Tip-
perary. There is a short account of this priory in the Monast.
Angl. Vol. 2, p. 1023.

(32) Sec Not. 64-. to Chap, xxvii.


(33) Ware (Antiq. loc'cit.) adds to Donald CXBrianjas a bene-
factor to Inislaunaght, Malachy OToelain prince of the Desies.
He does not mention the year, in which they endowed or refound-
ed it ; and yet Archdall (at Inisloiinagh) refers to him, as if he
said in 1187. Harris (Monaster. Cistercian abbies) assigns this
endowment to about A. 1184^. For the monastery of Leix see
Ware (ib. at Queen's county) and Archdall at Abbey-Leix^ the
name by which it has been known.

(34) Ware [Annals at 1185) calls Gerald tutor to prince John,
and at Writers (Lib. 1. cap. 2.) following Giraldus himself (De
rebus a se gestis. Part. 2. c. 10.) says, that Henry II. sent him
over to Ireland with John as his secretary. Hence it follows, that
Gerald, who had been in Ireland in 1183, (above}. 3.) had in
the mean while returned to Wales.

(35) Ware, Annals at A. 1185 and Lyttelton, B. 5. See
also Giraldus, Hib. exp. L. 2. c. 35.

§.6. In said year, 1 185, some Irish bishops died,
among whom, besides Amlave O'Murid of Armagh,
already mentioned, we find Amlave O'Cobthaigh, or
O'Coify, bishop of Derry, who died at Duncnithen
in that diocese. His remains were thence conveyed
to Derry, and buried there in the abbey of St. Co-
lumba near those of Muredach O'Cobthaigh, his
immediate predecessor. (SQ') He was succeeded by
Fogartach O'Cherballen or O'Carallan. Joseph
O'Hethe, bishop of Ferns, or, as some have called
him, of Wexford, died in the same year after hav-
ing held the see about thirty years. (37) The prince
John, who was then in Ireland, offered this see to
Gerald Barry, and proposed to get united to it in
his favour the bishopric of Leighlin, which was then
vacant by the death of its bishop Donagh or Donat,
who died in that year. Gerald declined the offer ;
and after some time Albin O'Mulloy, abbot of the
Cistercian house of Baltinglass, was raised to the see
of Ferns. (38) About the middle of Lent of the
following year, that is, 1186, Archbishop Cumin
held a provincial synod in Dublin in the church of


the Holy Trinity, alias Christ-church, which began
to sit on the Sunday Laetare Jerusalem, or the
fourth Sunday of Lent. (39) On the first day the
archbishop preached himself on the Sacraments. On
the second Albin O'Mulloy, who was still only ab-
bot of Baltinglass, made a long discourse on the sub-
ject of the continency of clergymen, in which he
inveighed severely against the English and Welsh
clergy, that had come over to Ireland, as the au-
thors of whatever abuses then existed in this respect,
and who by their vicious example had corrupted the
purity and correctness of the Irish ecclesiastics, who
were singularly observ^ant of chastity before the con-
tagion was spread among them by those strangers.
Upon which several foreign clergymen, settled in
the county of Wexford, and who were present at
the synod, began to accuse each other, before the
whole assembly, of their having concubines and
wives, appealing on the spot to witnesses for their
assertions and mutual recriminations ; upon which
they became a laughhig-stock and objects of insult
to the Irish clergy then present. The archbishop,
who had encouraged the delinquents to disclose and
prove each others faults, immediately passed sen-
tence on those, who were convicted of being guilty,
and suspended them from their ecclesiastical func-
tions and the enjoyment of their benefices. (40)
On the third day Gerald Barry, who attended at the
synod, was ordered by the archbishop to speak, and
pronounced a long farrago of a sermon, in which he
entered into a variety of subjects relative to the con-
duct at large of the Irish clergy, particularly the
bishops, mixed with much abuse of the whole na-
tion. (41) Of several of his charges, which are
partly founded on his ignorance of ecclesiastical an-
tiquities and partly distorted by malignity, an occa-
sion will soon occur of treating ; but I may here ob-
serve, that in his general account of the Irish clergy
he speaks very favourably of them. ** The clergy,"


he says, " of this country are very commendable
** for religion, and among the divers virtues, which
** distinguish them, excel and are preeminent in the
" prerogative of chastity. Likewise they attend vi-
" gilantly to their Psalms and hours, to reading and
** prayer ; and remaining within the precincts of
** the churches do not absent themselves from the
** divine offices, to the celebration of which they
** have been appointed. They also pay great atten-
** tion to abstinence and sparingness of food, so that
" the greatest part of them fast almost every day un-
" til dusk and until they have completed all the ca-
«* nonical offices of the day." (42) But, as a set off
against this statement, forced from him by the truth,
he adds, that in general they take at night more
wine or other sorts of drink than is becoming. Yet
he does not accuse them of drinking to inebriation.
(43) 'i he most they could be charged with was,
that according to the Irish custom they might have
sat together drinking something after dinner, while
some other nations, who indulge much more in eat-
ing and in quantity and variety of meats than the
Irish generally do, drink at the same time that they
are eating. (44) He confesses, however, that some
of them are exceedingly good men and without ble-
mish. (45) What he stated concerning the clergy's
drinking gave great offence ; and Felix, bishop of
Ossory, who supped on the evening of that day with
the archbishop, being asked by him, what he thought
of Giraldus' discourse, answered ; " He said bad
things, and I was very near flying in his face, or, at
least, making him a harsh reply 5 for he called us
topers.'* (46)

(36) Ware, Bishops at Derry, (Compare with Not, 27.) He
says, that in the Annals of Connaught Amlav^e is called bishop of
Kinel-Eogain. Hence it seems, that the see of Ardsrath alia^
Rathlure, or at least part of it, was at this time united with that
of Deny.


(37) Ware ib. at Ferns, and Harris ib. Joseph O'Hethe must
have been placed on the see of Ferns during the h'fe-time of his
predecessor Brigdin O'Cathlan, who hved until 1172 (see Chap.
XXIX. §. 5.) and who, it appears, resigned about A, 1155. Con-
cerning a calumnious story, in which Joseph was included, see Not,
72. to Chap. XXIX.

(38) Ware and Harris, ib. and at Leighlin. See also Giral-
dus, De rebus a se gestis, Part. 2. cap. 13.

(39) Giraldus, ib. I am much surprized to find, that Ware has
assigned this synod to the year 1 1 85 not only in his Annals, but
likewise at Bishops (Ferns, Albin O'MuUoy), For it is evident
from Giraldus, that it must have been held in 1186. He places it
after the return of prince John to England, which was, as we have
seen, in December, A. 1185 Ware himself in the Annals fol-
lows the order of Giraldus, mentioning John's departure from Ire-
land before the synod was assembled. Giraldus was present at
this synod j but how could this have been, if it were held in
1185? He tells us himself that he came to Ireland with John,
(above Not. 34'.) and in Easter time ; and Ware accordingly says,
{Ajmals at A 1185) that John landed at Waterford on the 5th
day of Easter said year. Therefore Giraldus could not have at-
tended a synod held in Dublin during the Lent of 1185. Harris,
although [at Albin O'Mulloy) he has with Ware A. 1185, yet
(at Archbishops o^ Dublin, John Cumin) speaks of the synod as
held about 1186. He should have said in 1186, as is clear from
Giraldus, and as it is marked by Fleury, L. 74.. §. 8.

(40) Giraldus, ih See also Fleury, loc. cit. Giraldus calls the
guilty clergymen Clerici nost rates. They were a sample of the
missionaries, who, as Adrian IV. and Alexander IH. had flattered
themselves, were under the auspices of Henry II. to instruct and
reform the people of Ireland !

(41) He has given the substance of his discourse, ib. cap. 14.
It is nearly the same, word for word, with what he has in Topogr.
Hib. Dist. 3. capp. 27, 28, 29, 30.

(42) His words are (as loco, citt.); Est autem terraeistius Clerus
satis religione commendabilis ; et inter varias, quibus pallet, virtutes
castitatis praerogativa praeeminet et praecellit. Item Psahnis et
horis, lectioni et orationi vigilanter insermunt, et intra ecclesiae
septa se continentes a divinis, quibus deputati sunt, officiis non re-


cedunt, Ahstiiientiae quoque et parsimoniae ciborum non medio'
criter indulgent, ita ut pars maxima cotidie Jere, donee cuncta
diei compleverint horarum officia., usque ad crepusculum jeju-

(43) Fleury (Z. 74. }. 8.) quoting from Giraldus (De rebus, S^c.
Part. 2. c. 14!. J gives an incorrect statement of what he said. He
makes him speak of the drunkenness of the Irish clergy, although
Giraldus went no farther than to charge them with drinking more
than was proper, quam deceret. And then hie omitted Giraldus
preceding encomium on them, touching on it merely in general
terms. I may also remark, that he had no right to say, that Gi-
raldus proved by unanswerable arguments the negligence of the
Irish prelates. Those arguments were not, as will be seen, unan-
swearable, although Giraldus boasts that they were. Fleury co-
pied Giraldus' boast, but so as that a reader would think, that the
words are from Fleury himself. This historian was but too apt to
copy without discrimination from prejudiced or ill-informed writers
passages relative to matters of Irish ecclesiastical history, with
which indeed he was poorly acquainted. Harris also (Bishops of
Ferns, at Albin O'Mulloy) speaks of drunkenness ; but Giraldus
has not that word.

(44) What has been now observed shows the malignity of Gi-
raldus in distorting a custom innocent in itself into a vice. Not
being able to show, that the clergy drank to excess, he strove to
misrepresent the practice of the country, as if it were more unbe-
coming to drink something after dinner than to drink as much as
people do in some other countries during their long dinners. He
acknowledges, however, that whatever the Irish clergy did drink
did not lead to any breach of chastity, and says ; " Hoc pro mira-
culo duci potest, quod ubi vina dominantur, Venus non regnat^
Surely this is a sufficient proof, that they were moderate with regard
to drinking.

(45^ " Sunt tamen nonnulli inter hos optimi et siiie fermento

(46) Giraldus De rebus, &c. Part. 2. c. 15. Potores was the
word used by Felix, which Harris {loc. cit.) has inaccurately trans-
lated drunkards. The conceited and boasting Giraldus speaks
with delight of his discourse, and of his having raised the spirits of
his countrymen, who had been attacked by Albin O'MuUoy. In


his wish for revenge he misrepresented matters as much as he

§. VII. The canons agreed to in this synod are
still extant, and are as follow. (47) The 1st pro-
hibits priests from celebrating mass on a wooden ta-
ble (or altar,) according to the usage of Ireland,
and enjoins, that in all monasteries and baptismal
churches altars should be made of stone ; and, if a
stone of sufficient size to cover the whole surface of
the altar cannot be had, that in such case a square
entire and polished stone be fixed in the middle of
the altar, where Christ's body is consecrated, of a
compass broad enough to contain five crosses and also
to bear the foot of the largest chalice. But in cha-
pels, chauntries, or oratories, if they are necessarily
obliged to use wooden altars, let the mass be cele-
brated upon plates of stone of the before-men-
tioned size firmly fixed in the wood. (4<8)

The 2d provides, that the coverings of the holy
mysteries may spread over the whole upper part of
the altar, and that a cloth may cover the front of the
same and reach to the ground (or floor). These co-
verings to be always whole and clean.

3d. That in monasteries and rich churches chalices
be provided of gold and silver; but in poorer
churches, where such cannot be afforded, that then
pewter chalices may serve the purpose, which must
be always kept whole and clean. (49)

4th. That the Host, which represents the Lamb
without spot, the Alpha and Omegay be made so
white and pure, that the partakers thereof may
thereby understand the purifying and feeding of their
souls rather than their bodies. (.50)

5th. That the wine in the Sacrament be so tem-
pered with water, that it be not deprived either of
the natural taste or colour. (51)

6th. That all vestments and coverings belongi^ig
to the church be clean, fine, and white. (52)


7th. That a lavatory of stone or wood be set up,
and so contrived with a hollow, that whatever is
poured into it may pass through and lodge in the
earth ; through which also the last washings of the
priest's hands after the holy communion may pass.

8th. Provides, that an immoveable font be fixed
in the middle of every baptismal church, or in such
other part of it as the paschal procession may con-
veniently pass round. That it be made of stone, or
of wood lined with lead for cleanness, wide and
large above, bored through to the bottom, and so con-
trived that, after the ceremony of baptism be ended,
a secret pipe be so contrived therein as to convey
the holy water down to mother earth. (53)

9th. That t!ie coverings of the altar, and other
vestments dedicated to God, when injured by age,
be burnt within the inclosure of the church, and the
ashes of them transmitted through the aforesaid pipe
of the font, to be buried in the bowels of the earth,

10th. Prohibits any vessel used in baptism to be
applied ever after to any of the common uses of
men. (54)

llth. Prohibits under the pain of an anathema
any person to bury in a church yard, unless he can
show by an authentic writing, or undeniable evidence,
that it was consecrated by a bishop, not only as a
sanctuary or place of refuge, but also for a place of
sepulture ; (^55) and that no laymen shall presume
to bury their dead in such a consecrated place with-
out the presence of a priest.

12th. Prohibits the celebration of divine service
in chapels built by laymen to the detriment of the
mother churches. (.56)

13th. Since the clergy of Ireland, among other
virtues, have been always remarkably eminent for
their chastity, and that it would be ignominious if
tl^ey should be corrupted, through his (the arch-
bishop's) negligence, by the foul contagion of
strangers, and the example of a few incontinent


men; he therefore forbids, under the penalty of
losing both office and benefice, that no priest, dea-
con, or sub -deacon should keep any woman in their
houses, either under the pretence of necessary ser-
vice, or any other colour whatsoever, unless a mo-
ther, own sister, or such a person whose age should
remove all suspicion of any unlawful commerce. (57)

14th. Contains an interdict against simony under
the before-mentioned penalty of losing both office
and benefice.

15th. Appoints that, if any clerk should receive
an ecclesiastical benefice from a lay hand, unless after
a third monition he renounce that possession which
he obtained by intrusion, he should be anathematized
and for ever deprived of the said benefice.

l6th. Prohibits a bishop from ordaining the inha-
bitant of another diocese without the commendatory
letters of his proper bishop, or of the archdeacon.
(58) Nor that any one be promoted to holy orders
without a certain title of a benefice assigned to
him. (59)

17th. Prohibits the conferring on one person two
holy orders in one day.

18th. Provides, that all fornicators shall be com-
pelled to celebrate a lawful marriage, and also that
no person born in fornication should be promoted to
holy orders, nor should be esteemed heir either to
father or mother, unless they be afterwards joined
in lawful matrimony. (60)

19th. Provides, that tythes be paid to the mother
churches (61) out of provisions, hay, the young of
animals, flax, wool, gardens, orchards, and out of
all things, that grow and renew yearly, under pain
of an anathema after the third monition ; and that
those, who continue obstinate in refusing to pay,
shall be obliged to pay the more punctually for the
future. (62)

20th. Provides, that all archers, and all others,
who carry arms not for the defence of the people.


but for plunder and sordid lucre, shall on every
Lord's day be excommunicated by bell, book, and
candle, and at last be refused Christian burial.

These canons were not long after confirmed by
Pope Urban III. (6S)

(47) Harris says, (Archbishops of Dublin, John Cumin or
Comyn) that they are among the arcliives preserved in Christ,
church, Dublin, yet so miserably defaced by time, that many words
of them are not now legible, but that the substance of them may be
collected. As I have not been able to see the original, I lay be-
fore the reader his abstract of them, adding however some observa-

(48) This last mode is the one followed at this day in the Catho-
lic chapels of Ireland. It is allowed, that before the times of Con-
stantine the great the Chi'istian altars or holy tables were generally
made of wood; and it is clear from St, Augustin, (Ep. 50> ad
Bonifac.) Optatus, [Lib. 6. p. 94.) and St. Athanasius, Ep. ad
solitar. vitam. agentes) that this practice continued later in Africa
and Egypt. It has been said, that Pope Sylvester I. ordered, that
altars should henceforth be only of stone ; but of this there is no
sufficient proof; or, if he issued any such order, it was not generally
obeyed. The very altar of St. John Lateran's was in his time of
wood. The first decree relative to this point seems to be that of
the council of Epone in France held A, 7). 517, which in its 26th
canon declared ; '* Altaria, nisi lapidea, chrismatis unctione non
sacrentur." (See more in Bingham's Origines B. viii. ch. 6. sect,
15.) It is therefore not to be wondered at, that the Irish made
their altars of wood from the beginning, and that they continued to
do so in consequence of their steady attachment to the practices
received from St. Patrick.

(49) We have seen, (Chap, xvi. §- I.) that the great St. Co-
lumbanus made use of chalices of brass. Chalices of glass were
used in various countries, and I have mentioned (.Vof. 47. to Chap^
1 .) a remarkable instance of them at a very early period in Ire-

(50 ) Regulations similar to this were observed in other churches.
In the monastery of Clugni» as related by Ulric on its practices,


(see Fleury, L. 63. J. 60.) the most strict attention was paid to
the pureness and whiteness of the bread for the use of the altar,
and the preparing of it was considered as a religious ceremony, in
which priests, deacons, and novices were engaged amidst the
singing of psalms.

(51) This rule was directed against a custom, which some
priests had adopted, particularly in Spain, of putting more water
into the chalice than was proper.

(52) What is here said..of whiteness cannot be understood of
all the vestments and coverings, some of which were not white,
but merely of such of them as according to general usage ought
to be white.

(53) This canon was made in conformity with the second of
the synod of Cashel, (See Chap. xxix. §. 3.

(^5^) This regulation does not imply, that said vessel should be
destroyed, but simply that thenceforth it should be used only for
sacred purposes.

{55) The reasons, or at least one of them, for passing this
decree was probably to check the impertinence, for I cannot call
it by a better name, of certain monks, u ho pretended, that ex-
traordinary and indeed monstrous pi'ivileges were attached to
burials in their cemeteries, or within their precincts, and that
persons there inteiTed received wonderful advantage from that cir-
cumstance. Instances of suf:h pretended and absurd prerogatives
may be seen in the Life o^ St. Moedoc of Ferns {cap. '36.), and in
the first one of St. Kieran of Saigir {cap. 38.) on which Colgan has a
long and injudicious note, in which he strives to explain these vile
fables. On the whole this canon was levelled against such persons,
whether monks or others, who endeavoured to draw funerals to
their premises, by making them prove, that such places had been
duly consecrated as burying grounds,

{56) What Harris calls mother-churches must be in the original
Ecclessiae matrices, by which were understood, at that time, not
only cathedrals, but likewise parish or baptismal churches.

(57) This canon was ordered in consequence of what appeared
on the charges brought by Albin O'Mulloy against the foreign

(58 ) This general rule of the Church was observed in Ireland
from very ancient times, according to the 30th canon of the synod



of Patrick, Auxilius, and Isserninus; " Episcopus quislibet, qui
de sua in altej-am progreditur paj'ochiam (dioecesim) nee ordinare
praesumaty nisi permissionem acceperit ab eo, qui in suo princi.
patu est.'"

(59) It was very proper in these times to enforce this regula-
tion ; for, as Fleury observes, {Instit. an Droit Eccles. Part 1 .
ch, 7.) the abuse of conferring orders absolutely, that is, without a
fixed title, became ver}'^ general in the 12th century. This abuse
had been guarded against in the above-mentioned Irish synod, -^the
third canon of which is, " Clericus vagus non sit in plebe.'^

(60 ) The latter part of this canon is more of a civil than an ec-
clesiastical nature, and was, I suppose, authorized by the king or
his ministers in Ireland. In the old Irish synods I have not met
with any assumption of power by the clergy with regard to poli-
tical or civil matters ; or if in some of their assemblies such matters
were decided on, the reason was that Irish kings or princes were
present at them. A remarkable instance of the respective exercise
of authority on the part of Church and State occurred in the coun-
cil of Mellifont. Donogh O'Melaghlin, prince of Meath, was con-
demned in it ; but the clergy went no farther than to excommuni-
cate him, whereas the decree, by which he was deprived of his
principality, emanated from Murtogh O'Loghlin, king of Ireland,
and the other princes there present. (See Chap, xxviii. §. 4.)

(61) See above AV. 56.

(62) This canon was certainly a plentiful sweeping commentary,
in favour of the clergy, on the third of the synod of Cashel, Chaji.
XXIX. ^.3.

(63) Hanis. Archbishops of Dublin at John Comyn.

§. VIII. This year, 1 186, is remarkable in Irish his-
tory for the traiishition of the remains of saints Pa-
trick, Columba, and Brigid. They had, it is said,
been discovered in Down in the preceding year. (64)
That St. Patrick had been buried at Down seems to
be the most probable opinion, although some of his
reliques were certainly preserved at Armagh. (65)
St. Columba's body was originally in Hy ; \^Q^^ but
tlie shrine containing it was brought to Ireland in
878, or, as others say, 876, and, according to


every probability, deposited in Down. (67) Not

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 24 of 45)