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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very long before this time the remains of St. Brigid,
which had been from the beginning at Kildare, were
removed also to Down. (68) The following account
is given of this discovery and translation. (69) It
being generally believed that the bodies of the three
saints were in Down, Mai achy its bishop used to pray
frequently to God, that he would vouchsafe to point
out to him the particular place or places, in which
they were concealed. While on a certain night fer-
vently praying to this effect in the church (cathe-
dral) of Down, he saw a light, like a sun-beam,
traversing the church, which stopped at the spot,
where the bodies were. . Immediately procuring the
necessary implements he dug in that spot and found
the bones of the three bodies, which he then put
into distinct boxes or coflins and placed again under
ground. Having communicated what had occurred
to John de Courcey, then lord of Down, they de-
teniiined on sending messengers to Fo|>e Urban III.
for the purpose of procuring the removal or transla-
tion of these reliques to a more respectable part of
the church. The pope agreeing with their request
sent as his legate on this occasion Vivian, Cardinal
priest of St Stephen in monte Caelio, who had been
at Down nine years before, and who was well ac-
quainted , with John de Courcey and the bishop Ma-
lachy. (70) On his arrival the reliques were re-
moved with the usual solemnities to a more distin-
guished part of the church on the 9th of June, the
festival of St. Columba. They were deposited in
one moment, according to the well known distich ;

Nu7ic tres in Dmio tiimulo iumulantur in uno,
Brigida, PatriciuSy atque Coliimba pius. (7 1 )

Besides the Cardinal there were present at this trans-
lation fifteen bishops, together with abbots, provosts,
(deans, archdeacons, priors, &c. It was resolved,

T 2


that the anniversary of it should be celebrated in
Ireland as a festival, and that the feast of St. Co-
lumba should be transferred to the day after the
Octave of said festival, that is, to the 17th of
June. (72)

(64<) Giraldus says, (Topogr, Hib. DisL 3. cap, 18.) that they
were found in the year, in which earl John, that is, prince John
earl of Morton, first came to Ireland, which was, as we have seen,
Jl. 1185. To show his learning, he states that the three saints
were contemporary, although it is certain, that St. Patrick was
dead many years before the birth of Columba.

{65) See Chap. vii. §. 13. and ib. Not. 147, US.

(66) Chap. XII. §. 15. and ib. Not. 232.

(67) See Chap. xxi. §. 14. and ib. Not. 140, 141.

(68) See Chap.ix. §. 6. — Not. 18. to Chap, viii.and Not. 141.
to Chap. XXI.

(69) It is contained in the Office of the Translation of saints
Patrick, Columba, and Brigid, printed in Paris A. 1620, which
has been republished by Colgan at the beginning of the Tr. Th,
Part of it may be seen in Messingham's Florilegiumy p. 208, seqq.
and in Usher's Prim. p. 889. seqq.

(70) See Chap. xxix. J. 12. In the above-mentioned Office
this Cardinal is called John instead of Vivian ; but, as Usher /has
well observed, this is a mistake ; for there was at that time no John
of the title of St. Stephen, <S:c,, whereas from the lists of Cardinals,
it is known, that Vivian was the then Cardinal of said title.

(71) It is thus that this distich appears in the response to the 8tli
lesson of the before-mentioned Office. In the usual editions of
Giraldus (Topogr. Hib. Dist. 3. c. 18.) it begins with. In burgo
Duno. Other readings have. Hi ires in Duno, Sec.

(72) In the Office there is a mistake, undoubtedly of a copyist,
in assigning 4 Idas Junii, i. c. the 10th of June, instead of 5
Idus, for the feast of the Translation. The Office itself states,
that the Translation took place on the 5 Idus Junii, or the 9th of
June. It is therefore clear, that this was the day, on which the
Translation was to be annually commemorated. Besides, why
transfer the festival of St. Columba from its usual day, the 9th of
June, if this were not the day, to which that of the Translation


was affixed ? yet this regulation has not been observed ; for St.
Columba's festival is still kept on the 9th of June.

§. IX. In the same year, 1 186, Hugh de Lacy, who
had made himself lord of Meatli, was killed on the
25th of July by a labouring man, whom some call
O'Meey, who happened to be alone with him while
he was inspecting some works of his new castle of
Darmagh or Durrogh (in the now King's county),
and who, while De Lacy was in a stooping ])osture,
with one stroke of an axe severed his head from his
body. (73) His death freed the king, Henry II. ,
from the uneasiness occasioned to liim by the am-
bitious views of De Lacy, who seemed to aspire to
the sovereignty of all Ireland. Sometime in this
year, but after the synod of Dublin, Albin O'Mid-
loy, abbot of Baltinglas, who had distinguished him-
self in that synod, was raised to the see of Ferns,
which he held for a great number of years. (74) It
is probable, that his promotion to it was owing to his
zeal against the incontinent clergy, and to his being
considered, particularly by archbishop Cumin, as a
proper person to be placed over a diocese, in which
the foreign clergymen abounded. To this year is
assigned the death of three Irish prelates, the most
celebrated of whom was Christian O'Conarchy, who
had been bishop of Lismore and apostolic legate, and
who had retired some years before to the Cistercian
monastery of Kyrie eleison. (75) His name is
marked in various calendars at the ISth of March,
(76) whence it may be inferred, that this was the
day of his death. Another was Gregory, bishop of
Cork, of whom it is related, that he granted to the
abbey of Thomas-court near Dublin, the church of
St. Nessan in Cork. His immediate successor seems
to have been one Reginald. The third was Mal-
callan, bishop of Clonfert. (77) J" .the same year
Conor Maenmoigi rose up anew against his father,
Roderic O'Conor, and drove him out of Connaught.


In Ulster also the infatuated Irish princes were quar-
relling among themselves, and Donald son of Hugh
O'Loghlin, king or prince of Tyrone, was com-
pelled to resign his principality, and in his place was
suhstituted Roderic O'Laherty. But, on his being
killed in the following year, while ravaging Tircon-
nel, Donald resumed the sovereignty of Tyrone.

(73) Ware, Annals at A. 1186. Lyttleton B. 5. &c. Leiand
observes [History, S)C. B. \.ch. 5.) Jrom some Irish annals, that
the fort or castle, which De Lacy vvas erecting at Dun*ogh, was
on the site of the ancient and highly respected monastery, which
Columb-kill had founded in that place. He adds, that the irrita-
tion felt by the Irishman at this profanation of that venerable spot>
was the cause, that excited him to commit that act.

(74) Ware, Bishops at Ferns, (15) See Chap.xxix. §. M*

(76) Colgan, A A. SS. at Acts of St. Christian, 18 Mart.

(77) See Ware and Hams, Bishops at Lismore, Cork, and

(78) Ware, A7i7ials at A. 1186.

§. X. Gerald Barry left Ireland and returned to
Wales between Easter and Whitsuntide of said year
] 186. (79) He took with him the materials, which
he had collected for the tracts, that he intended to
wTite concerning Ireland. (80) His opportunities
for giving a faithful account of the country, were
he even willing to do so, were not sufficient for such
a task. It is clear, that he mixed very little with the
native Irish, and that he had seen but a small part
of Ireland. The time of his abode here was short ;
for, independently of what little time he might have
spent in this country after his first arrival in 1183,
(81) he was only about one year in it, reckoning
from his second appearance among us on the 1st of
April, 1185. (82) But what his lack of knowledge
was not equal to, his malignity, vanity, and conceit-
edness supplied. He picked up every idle story.


that he met with among the foreign adventurers,
basely distorted the nature and circumstances of cus-
toms innocent in themselves, and has related heaps
of fiibles, many of which he was forced to acknow-
ledge that he did not believe himself. (83) It is-
not my business to examine the many false charges
which he has against the Irish nation in general.
This has been done by others, (84) and, confining
myself within the limits of ecclesiastical subjects, I
shall touch only on such assertions of his as are rela-
tive thereto, or closely connected with them In the
first place I may mention his monstrous falshood con-
cerning there being some parts of Ireland, in whicli
many persons were not as yet baptized, and wln'ch
the Christian religion had never reached. (85) He
does not venture to point out any one of those places,
but gives us a ridiculous fable, whicli he says he got
from some sailors, of how, when tossed by storms
amidst the ocean to the North or N. W. of Con-
naught, they fell in with an island, and a sort of sa-
vages in a boat, whom they discovered to be from
some part of Connaught, and who not only knew
nothing about Christ, but were ignorant even of the
division of years, months, and weeks, and had never
before seen a large ship. It would be a waste of
time to undertake a serious refutation of tin's non-
sense ; and it is clear that, if any sailors related it
to Giraldus, they did so merely to amuse themselves
at his expense, on Unding that he was apt to swal-
low all sorts of stories and lies. The latest account
we have of any persons not Christians being in or
near Connaught is that of the islanders of Immagh,
who were converted by St. Fechin in the seventh
century. (86) And who will imagine that, wliile so
many Irish missionaries were for ages preaching the
Gospel in foreign countries, even as far off as Ice-
land, they would have left behind them any of their
own countrymen still in ignorance of the Christian
religion ? Or that St. Malachy, Gelasius of Aimagh,



and the apostolic legates, who made so many visita-
tions throughout Ireland, would have overlooked such
ignorance, did it exist in any part of the country ?
In fact, there is not a single hint relative to it in any
Irish document whatsoever.

(79) Giraldus, De rehiis a se gcstisy L. 2. cap. 16. Ware,
who was mistaken as to the year of the synod of Dublin, (see above
Not. 39.) fell into a similar mistake in placing {.hinals) Giraldus'
return to Wales in ] 185. It Mas, as Giraldus himself informs us,
during the Paschal time next after the holding of the synod, that
he left Ireland.

(80) These tracts or works are two. The first is entitled Topo-
graphia Hiberniae sive De Mirabilibus Hiberniae, and is divided
into three books, which he called Distinctions, The second work
bears the title of Expugnatio Hiberniae^ or Hibernia expugnata^
and also of Historia Vaticinalis, Wharton obsei-ves, (Preface to
the second part or volume of his Anglia Sacra, /?, 20. seqq,) that
Giraldus published two editions of this work, the first dedicated to
prince Richard, afterwards king of England, and the second de-
dicated to king John. The former is still in manuscript in the libra-
ry of Lambeth, and is divided into three books, the third of which
is entitled De Vaticiniis, beginning with these words ; " Quoniam
in prioribus libris Merlin i vaticinin tarn Celidonii (Caledonii)
quam Ambrosii locis competentibus, 8^c, A subsequent part of
this book, and which is in the form of a preface, may be seen in
Usher's Ep. Hib. Sylloge, No. 50. Usher thought, (Not. ib.)
that Giraldus had not finished said third book ; but he had not
seen the MS. of Lambeth. It is on account of the prophecies of
Merlin, &:c. contained in that book, that the whole work was
called Historia Vaticinalis. The second edition is divided into
two books, and is that, which was published, together with the
Topographia, &c. in the Anglica, Hibernica, &c. at Frankfort,
A. D .1602. It is in some parts more enlarged than the first, and in
others curtailed. In it the passages from Merlin's prophecies are
all omitted, except one. Leland remarks, {B. 1. ch. 5) that Gi-
raldus had no right to entitle this work Expugnatio Hiberniae,
whereas Ireland was far from being subdued in his time. Indeed
this is acknowledged by Giraldus liimself in the second book, cap.


33. where he says, that the Irish became by dint of practical war-
fare better able to resist the invaders. He adds ; " Igitur in bel-
lici certaminis exercitio (divina forte vindicta) poptdo diiitius
utroque statido, adeo neuter ex toto, vel meniisse gratiam, vel deme-
ruisse videticr, zit nee ille ad plenum victor in Palladis hactenus
arcem victoriosus ascenderit, nee iste victus omnino plenae servituiis
Jugo colla siibmiserit."

(81) See above }. 3. and Not, 34-.

(82) See §, 5.

(83) The work, in which his calumnies and lies against the peo-
ple of Ireland chiefly abound, is the Topographia Hiberniae.
This was found fault with by persons of his time for the many ri-
diculous fables it contains. Giraldus strove in what is called the
first preface to Hib, exp, to answer the objections brought forward
against it, and after calling it a noble work, opus non ignobile,
and hypocritically referring to the Holy Scriptures, Fathers, &c.
he says, that " he does not mean that all the things, which he has
laid down, should be rashly believed, because he does not believe
them himself so as to have no doubt about them." Then he adds
" that he neither affirms nor denies such things." But why did he
assert what he knew could not be proved ? In like manner this
malicious boaster speaks in a little tract called his Retractatioiis
(Anglia sacra Vol, 2. p. 455.) ; " Imprimis igitur de Topographia
Hibernica, labore sc. nostro primaevo fere nee ignobili, ubi multa
nova aliisque regionibus prorsus incognita ideoque magis admiran-
da scribuntur, hoc pro certo sciendum, quorundam quinimo et
quamplurium per diligentem et certam indagationem a magnis ter-
rae illius et authenticis viris notitiam elicuimus. De caeteris au-
tem publicam potius terraefamam secuti fuimus, De quibus cum
Augustino sentimus, qui in libro de Civitate Dei de talibus, quae
sokun fama celebrat nee certaveritate fulciuntur loquens, nee ea
affirmanda plurimum nee prorsus abneganda decrevit." Who
were those great and authentic men of Ireland, from whom he
says he derived a gi-eat part of his information ? We may be
sure, that very few of them were Irishmen ; and then he tells us,
that as to other things, which by the bye form the greatest part of
the work, he followed common report ; fine authority for the de-
scription of a country ! Giraldus often prides himself on the Jb-
pographia. Thus (De rebus, S)-c, L. 2. c, 16.) talking of his hav-


ing read it publicly for three days at Oxford he says, that he did
so wishing not to leave the light under the bushel, but to
raise it upon the candlestick ; lucernam accensam non sub modio
ponere sed sniper candelabrum vt luceret erigere cupiens ; and
there this swaggerer tells us how he entertained on the first day all
the poor of that city. In his work, Dejure et statu Menevensis
Ecdesiae he boasts (Distinct. 7.) how the Topographia was ad-
mired by Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, Robert de Bello-
fago, canon of Salisbuiy, and master Walter Mapes, archdeacon
of Oxford, and how highly they spoke of Giraldus, as if there
were scarcely any other such man in the world. But, he adtls,
how much more worthy of praise are the works, which he has
published and is publishing in his maturer years, some of which
have been held in great estimation by the Pope ! ! ! Hence the
reader may judge wliat a vain-glorious animal Giraldus was ; and
such beings are usually saucy, malignant, and liars.

(84-) I scarcely need mention, that the chief writer, who has
refuted Giraldus vnih. regard to his account of Ireland, was John
Lynch, under the name of Gratianus Lucius, in his learned work
entitled Ca^nbrensis eversus. Keating in the preface to his His-
tory of Ireland has proved the falshood of many of Giraldus' as-
sertions. See also Mac-Geoghegan, Pre/, a VHist. de Vlrlande^

(85) Topogr, Hib, Dist. 3. cap. 26.

(86) See Chap, xvii. §. 10.

§. XI. On some other points Giraldus is not so
atrociously malignant ; but he betrays his profound
ignorance of the history of ecclesiastical discipline.
On an occasion of abusing the whole nation, and re-
presenting them as uninformed in the very rudi-
ments of faith, he gives as one of his arguments,
" that they do not as yet pay tithes or first offer-
ings." (87) This was, according to him and the
clergy of his country and times, a violation of an ar-
ticle of faith ! I allow, that the ancient Irish did
not pay those dues, nor were they in general paid
in Ireland during his time, except where the En-
glish influence predominated, notwithstanding the
decrees of the councils of Kells and Cashel. (8S)


Giraldiis did not know, that such dues were not
paid in the best times of the Church, and that it
was not until very long after the days of St. Patrick
that they were introduced, and indeed first of all
into France, where they are now extinct. In Italy
they are scarcely known ; and yet the Italians can-
not be said to be imiir/hrmed in the very rudiments
of faith. Another argument, which he subjoins,
is, ** that they do not as yet contract marriages."
(89) He was unacquainted with the difference be-
tween the marriage, called Sponsalia de praesenti,
and that styled Sponsalia de Jiituro, The Irish
were, in general, strongly attached to the latter
form, which in reality constituted, when united with
certain conditions, as valid a marriage as the former.
Giraldus, not understanding the nature of it, and
finding that the Irish did not marry according to the
mode practised in England and Wales, concluded
that they did not contract matrimony. Ha; ing al-
ready treated largely of this subject, (90) I need
not add more at present. He adds, *' that they do
not shun incest." (91) For this charge or argument
he had no foundation, except that the Irish had not
universally received the system of the seven degrees
of consanguinity or affinity, within which the ca-
nonists of tliose times prohibited marriage. (92)
As some of them did not scruple to marry within
said degrees, hence Giraldus accused them of com-
mitting incest. Another fault, which he finds, and,
I allow, with better reason, is, that in some parts
of Ireland men married the widows of their deceas-
ed brothers. (93) This abuse seems to have exist-
ed in Ireland ; but, even according to Giraldus*
own words, it was far from being general; and it
was contrary to the canons and ancient discipline of
the Irish church. (94)

(87) Topogr.S^c DisL 3. c. 19.

(88) See Chap, xxvii. $. 15. and Chap. xxix. §, 3, The


Ivish, however, knew, that tithes were paid in other coun-
tries, and some of their clergy seem to have wished, that they
were established in Ireland. In the collection of ancient Irish ca-
nons published by Martene (^ jyEe^flrwr. Nov, Anecdot. Tom. 4.)
I find (col. 12.) some passages or rules relative to the tithe of ani-
mals and of tlie products of the earth, taken from a synod called
Sapientia, But from the manner, in which they are drawn up, it
appears that they contain rather a sort of canonical disquisition con-
cerning tithes in general than regulations ordering the payment of
them in Ireland. Keating says (Preface J that they were paid in
tliis country before the arrival of Cardinal Paparo, But this prac-
tice was not general, nor, I believe, followed until a short time
before that arrival. Yet I do not deny, that they might have been
paid in some places through the exertions of Gillebert of Lime-
rick, who mentions them in his tract De static Ecclesiae, and of
St. Malachy.

(89) Topogr. ib,

(90) Not. 52. and 66. io Chap. xxvi. (91) Topogr. ih.

(92) See Chap. xxiv. §.12. xxvi. j. 6. and ib. Not. 51. xxix.
}. 4. and ib. Not. 17.

(93) Topogr. ib. (94) See Not. 51. to Chap. xxvi.

§. XII. As a proof of the Irish being rude in the
principles of faith he states, that they do not fre-
quent the church of God with due reverence. (95)
But he does not tell us, in what manner they were
deficient as to this point. They entertained, I be-
lieve, as much respect for churches as any of their
neighbours, and he himself gives us a proof of it in
relating a custom followed by them in forming con-
federacies and pledging each other to maintain mu-
tual friendship. They meet, he says, (96) in some
holy place and go round the church three times ;
after which entering the church they present them-
selves before the altar, on which the reliques of saints
are placed, and, while mass is celebrated and holy
priests praying on the occasion, become indissolubly
united. This practice shows, that they had a great
veneration for churches, as they made use of them



and of the church service for sanctioning their so-
lemn obligations. To this narrative, however, he
adds a most infamous lie concerning the parties drink-
ing of each others' blood, and its often happening
that, owing to a malicious trick, one or other of
them loses all his blood and becomes lifeless. In the
whole of our Irish history and in the accounts given
by our old antiquaries, there is not the least allusion
to such a horrid practice ; (97) and can any one
believe, that the shedding of blood would have been
allowed in a church, contrary to the rule of the whole
Christian world, or that the clergy and people pre-
sent would have suffered any one to draw his own
blood until he should lose his life? (98) Another
proof of the respect paid by the Irish to churches is,
that they used to consider them as sanctuaries and
inviolable places. (99) One of Giraldus' general
charges against the whole nation is, that they do not
attend the bodies of the dead to ecclesiastical burial
with the due obsequies. (100). How they were
wrong in this respect (although their funerals were
not exactly similar to those of England and ^Vales)
I do not understand, unless he alluded to their not
having been always very precise in having the fu-
neral attended by a priest. That it should be so
was ordered by the synod of Dublin, (101) whence
there is some reason to think, that this becoming
practice was sometimes neglected. It often happens
in every country, especially in places where clergy-
men are scarce, that it is impossible to observe it at
every funeiml. But that funeral obsequies were re-
gularly celebrated in Ireland, and that the bodies
were, according to general rule, interred in the pre-
sence of clergymen, we have frequently seen, and
might, if necessary, be proved from numberless
passages of the Lives of our saints. (102) Giraldus
adds, that in Ireland children are not cathechized
before the doors of the churches. (103) We al-
ludes to the baptismal ceremony, concerning which


the synod of Casliel had passed a decree, (104)
which seems to have been little attended to. Hav-
ing already enlarged on this subject, (105) I need
not add more about it in this place.

(95) Topogr.ib. (96) lb. Dist. S. c.22,

(97) See Keating, PrefacCy and L}Tich, Cambr. evers. cap. 29.
p. 286, seqq.

(98) Tliis lie of Giraldus is on a par with an abominable one,
which he has fib. cap. 25.) about the mode of inaugurating the
kings of Kenel-Cunil, that is, Tirconnel, and which, from the ex-
press testimony of the Irish antiquaries, who have described the
inauguration of the kings of that country, has been proved to be
diabolically false by Keating fib.J, Lynch, fib. cap. 30. p. 316.)
and Harris, Antiquities, cli. 10. The great St. Columba, who
was of the royal house of Tirconnel, may be naturally supposed,
when inaugurating Aidan king of the British Scots, to have fol-
lowed, at least in some measure, the mode practised in his own
country. Now we have seen, (Chap. xi. ^. 15.) that, in per-
forming that ceremony by order of the Almighty, he used a mode
quite different from the beastly one, which the vile lying Giraldus
strove to impose on the world.

(99) See Chap. xxix. ^.12.

(100) This charge is in his second book fDe rebus a se gestisj
L. 2. cap. 14.), where he has again some of those alreadly dis-

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