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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tulation and present, and reminding him of their
mutual affection since they had known each other
at Rouen. He says that, as he now knorvs of Gil-
lebert's having been raised to the episcopal dignity
in Ireland, {6\) he makes bold to request of him,
and even, as it appeared necessary, to advise him to
exert himself with earnestness towards correcting
and extirpating, as far as he is able, whatever may
be wrong in that country, and to induce, as well as
lie can, his king, the other bishops, and whomso..


ever he may persuade to cooperate with hhn in that
work, and in phmting and promoting good practices
and morals. Anselm seems here to alkide to some
reformation of certain Irish ecclesiastical practices,
and to the introduction of those then followed at

(57) In the prologue De usu ecclesiasticae fNo. 30 in the Si/l-
loge) he calls himself Gille. Keating (Book 2.) and Colgan
fA,L SS. p. 563.) speaks of him by the name of Gilla-Espuic.
Yet he sometimes assumed the name Gillebertus, latinized from
Gillebeii, which he probably received from the Danes, among
vv'hom he lived. That Gille had been abbot of Bangor may be de-
duced from his being called successor of Congell by Keating, as
quoted by Gratianus Lucius, i.e. Lynch, (Camhr. Evers. p. 83.)
who thought, and indeed justly, that this must have been the
same as abbot of Bangor, Peter Walsh (Prospect, c^c. p. 246)
and Archdall (at Bangor) speak of him in like manner. I do not
iind in the corrupt English translation of Keating the title of
successor of Congell given to Gille ; but the author of it has
omitted or altered many parts of the work.

(58) This letter is the 31st in the Sylloge, and the 86th of Z.
4. Ep. in Gerberon's edition of St. Anselm's works. It is headed,
Gillebertus by the mercy of God bishop of Limerick^ Lunicensis
episcopus, <S:c- Usher observes, that in various MSS. Gillebert is
called Lunicensis, Lunnicensis, or Lumnicerisis from Lumneach
the Irish name of Limerick.

(59) See Fleury, L. Q5. §. 46. Usher marks in the margin at
this letter about A. 109 i-; but Ansehn's disputes with the Eng-
lish kings had scarcely begun in 1094, nor did he obtain any vic-
tory until several years later. Usher was quite mistaken as to the
times of Gillebert. Thus at the Prologue, {No, 30) which he
drew up when bishop of Limerick, Usher marks A. 1090, al-
though in all probability Gillebert was not bishop there for 14 or
15 years after that time. Ware was cautious in this respect;
for, without assign.'ng the time of Gillebert's accession, he merely
says that he flourished in 1110.

(60) Anselm's letter is at No. 32 in tiic Sylioge, and in hi>i


works, Ep, L. 3. No. 143, addressed to Gillebert Lunicensi epis-

(61) As tliis letter was written after Anselni had settled hisf
disputes with Henry I. and returned to England late in 1106, it
follows that he had not heard of Gillebert's promotion until about
that time. Hence it is clear, that it did not take place until after
Anselm's second departure from England in 1103 ; for, if it had,
Anselra would certainly have been apprized of it before his re-
turn. It is probable that Gillebert became bishop of Limerick
about 1105. Here I may observe, that some fabulous or shallow
writers have confounded him with a Gillebart or Gislebert, sur-
named Crispinusy who had been a monk with Anselm in the mo-
nastery of Bee in Normandy. But, as Usher observes (Not, ad
No. 31.) that Gislebert never became a bishop, having died abbot
of Westminster, where he was buried. Ledwich. although he
had Usher s Si/Uogc before his eyes, and followed his mistakes as
to Gillebert's letter to Anselm Iiaving been written in 1 094, and
his tract on the Church in 1090, yet ( Antiq. S^c. p. 433) aban-
dons him, and makes Gillebert the same as Gislebert, merely for
the purpose of insinuating that he was an Ostman, as he pretends.
Such is the Doctor's consistency ! He even quotes Ware to show,
that Gillebert was an Ostman, while Ware says notliing more
than that he did not know whether he were an Irishman or an Ost-

§. X. In fact Gillebert, subsequently to his hav-
ing received this letter, signalized his zeal by en-
deavouring to bring all the practices, liturgical, and
connected with the Church service, of which there
vv^as a great variety in Ireland, to one uniform sys-
tem conformable to that of the particular church of
Rome. Comprising these matters under the general
name of ecclesiastical order, he wrote a tract enti-
tled De usu ccclesiaslico, but at what tiuie I am not
able to ascertain, except that there can be no doubt
of his having composed it after the exhortation he
got from Anselm, who, liad it been written sooner,
would have alluded to it in his letter, instead of en-
courageing him a > one vvlio iiad not yet acted vigour-


oiisly, to set about doing something. (62) It was
written before Gillebert became apostolical legate,
as it contains not the least hint relative to any such
dignity, and in the prologue, addressed to the bi-
shops and priests of all Ireland, he assumes no other
title than that of the lo^west of prelates Gille of Li-
merick, (63) He tells them, that at the request
and by the command of many of them he has en-
deavoured to write out the canonical custom in say-
ing the Hours, and in performing the offices of the
whole ecclesiastical order^ for the purpose of pro-
curing that the various and schismatical orders, with
which almost all Ireland is bewildered, may yield to
the one Catholic and Roman office. For what, he
says, can be more unbecoming or schismatical than
that a very learned person of one order should be
like an idiot or a layman in a church, where a dif-
ferent one is followed ? Therefore whoever pro-
fesses himself a member of the Catholic church, in the
same manner as he is joined in the body by one
faith, hope, and charity, so is he commanded to
praise God with his mouth and in the (same) or-
der with the other members of the Church. To
this he applies with great learning the words of St.
Paul, (Bom. xv. 6.) That with one accord and dne
mouth you may glorify God. As then, he continues,
the division of languages caused by pride was
bi'ought to unity in the humility of the Apostles, so
the confusion of orders, that has arisen from negli-
gence and presumption, is through your exertions
and humility to make way for the consecrated rule
of t4ie Roman church. Thus he goes on arguing,
as if the unity of faitli required also a uniformity of
ritual practices.

(62) It is strange that Usher, although otherwise wrong in his
dates, could have made the writing of this tract prior to that of
the letter to Anselm and of Anselm's answer.

(63 ) Episcopis eb presbyteris totius Hiberniae injlmus pmesn-


liim Gille Lunicensis in Christo salutem. Pitts, in his Writers of
England, attributes tliis tract to a Gilla bishop of Lincohi, a man,
who, as Usher remarks, (Not. to No. SO.) never existed,

§, XI. Gillebeit, although he knew somelhiiig of
these exterior matters, was a very shallow theologian.
Gregory the great was of a quite different way of
thinking on these subjects, as we see from his in-
structions to the monk Augustin ; and it is univer-
sally allowed not only in theory, but by the actual
and still subsisting variety of liturgies and offices in
the Catholic church, tluit the great maxim of eccle-
siastical unity is not at all affected by such variety.
(f)4) At a very ancient and one of the best periods
of the Irish church a diversity of liturgies and rides
was added to those kitroduced by St. Patrick ; (6.3)
but it was not supposed, that they implied any the
least innovation in religion or essential discipline.
In the course of time this diversity was carried to a
much greater extent; which was undoubtedly an
inconvenience, particularly in such a small country
as Ireland. It seems to have been augmented in
proportion to the introduction of new monastic
rules, of which, notwithstanding tlieir being all
founded on one original plan, there was a consi-
derable number. (66) Such a multiplicity of different
offices required some limitation; but Gillebert
was iiighly mistaken in calling them schismatical,
(67) and equally so in the wretched arguments ad-
duced by him. In his zeal for uniformity he fixed
upon the peculiar order and office, which is strictly
called Roman, and of which he seems to' speak as if
it were the only Catholic one, not knowing that
there were many others full as catholic then and
since in existence and actually followed. {foZ) This
he strove to get substituted for the divers orders
and offices used in Ireland, in imitation of similar
attempts made about those times in other countries.
(6[j) it is probable, that Gillebert was encouraged


in his proceedings by Anselm, although it can
scarcely be supposed, that Ansehii supplied him
with his bad arguments. What is become of his
bpok or treatise De usu ecclesiastico, which seems
to have been little else than a copy of the Roman
liturgy and office, I am not able to tell ; for it must
not be confounded with the tract, which he wrote
under the title of De statu EcclesiaSy and which, it
seems, he prefixed to it. (70) Gillebert did not
succeed, as will be seen lower down, at least to any
considerable degree, in setting aside the Irish Of-

(64?) See, among other parts of this history where I had occasion
to touch on this point. Chap. i. J. 5.

{Q5) See Chap. x. §. 4. {66) See Not. 58 to Chap. x.

(67) Alemand (Inirod. a VHut. Monast. d'Irlande, p. 14.)
justly censures Gillebert for his unfounded and ignorant manner
of speaking of the Irish offices, and observes that a similar va-
riety still prevails, particularly among the religious ordei-s, such as
the Carthusians, Benedictines, Dominicans, and Carmelites, whose
masses and offices differ from each other and from those of the se-
cular clergy.

(68) Were Gillebert now alive and to go to Rome, he would
find in that very city a great number of clergymen observing litur-
gies and offices different, and some of them very much so, from the

(69) Pope Gregory VII. was very anxious to introduce the Ro-
man office into the Western churches. On this point he was suc-
cessful in some parts of Spain. (See Fleury, L. 63. §. 6.)

(70) Towards the end of the prologue De usii, &c, Gillebert
makes mention of a painted image of the Church, which he had
made. The tract entitled De statu Ecdesiae, which Usher has
placed after the prologue, begins with a description of this image,
and then proceeds to an account of the various classes o? the mem-
bers of the Church, both lay and ecclesiastical. It has the gra-
dations of bishops, archbishops, primates, and popes, who are
placed over all the others. Then we find the orders of ostiarii,
lectors, exorcists, acolythes, subdeacons, deacons, and priests, and


their various powers a nd duties. In short it is a summary of the
general Canon law of those times, mixed with some observations
on ecclesiastical dresses and church utensils and ornaments. Speak-
ing of the priest's duty to pray, Gillebert says that it is chiefly
fulfilled in celebrating the Hours and Mass, of which however,
he adds, as it cannot be done briefly, we shall treat in the sequel.
Here he alludes to the treatise, De usu ecclesiastic o^ which was
to contain the series of the whole divine office, &c. a series not to be
found in the tract De statu Ecclesiae. Hence Harris was wi'ong
{Writers at Gille) in confounding them into one treatise, and
still more wrong (Bishops of Limerick) in saying, that " it con-
tains the different forms of liturgies, and the various ways of cele-
brating divine service in the church of Ireland ;" for the tract,
De statu Ecclesiae, which he thought the same as the other, con-
tains no such things, nor any liturgy whatsoever. And as to what
was contained in the book De usu ccclesiastico, we may be sure,
that they were not Irish liturgies, but what Gillebert styles the ca-
nonical custom.

§ XII. Domnald Mac-Amalgaid was, as already
stated (71) succeeded in the see of Armagh by
Celsus in the year 1105. Celsus, whose real name
was Ceallach or Kellach, was a grandson of the
archbishop Moeliosa, Domnald's predecessor, by his
son Aedh or Aidus, and accordingly was a member
of that family, which had for so great a lapse of time
usurped the possession of that great see. (72) But,
although of that family, he was a real bishop, hav-
ing been actually consecrated on the 23d of Sep-
tember in said year, (73) and before he had reached
the canonical age, being then only about 26 years
old. (74) He is said to have been very learned,
and it is certain that he was gifted with a truly ec-
clesiastical spirit, and was a most zealous, laborious,
and holy prelate. He was not married, as some
persons have foolishly thrown out ; whereas, on the
contrary, he exerted himself most strenuously to
put an effectual stop to the hereditary succession,
by winch the see of Armagh had been go griev-


ously injured, and, among many other regulations,
re-established by his example and proceedings the
canonical system of celibacy, which had been
broken through by eight of his predecessors, who,
although laymen, got themselves called archbishops.
(7.5) St. Bernard tells us, that the unhappy state,
to which the church of Armagh had been reduced
by such enormous abuses, affected, more or less,
every other part of Ireland, and a great dissolution,
of ecclesiastical discipline, together with a neglect
of religion, overspread the land. Barbarism, he
adds, amounting to a sort of paganism, had been
introduced instead of Christian practices ; and bi-
shops were changed and multiplied without order
or regularity according to the mere pleasure of the
Armagh metropolitan, so that almost every church
had a bishop of its own. (76} Whatsoever or how
far extended were those abuses, Celsus endeavoured
to correct them as far as he was able, and by his
exemplary conduct, charity, preaching, erecting of
churches, lying down rules of discipline and mora-
lity for the clergy and people, and other pastoral
exertions, greatly contributed to bring about a better
order of things. (77) The first act of his, which
I find specially recorded, was a visitation of Ulster
in 1 106, which seems to have been as much of a
temporal as of a spiritual nature, that is, for the
purpose of receiving the dues, that used to be paid
to the see of Armagh. In said year he made a
similar visitation throughout Munster, where he
appears to have been well received, as, besides the
usual contributions according to the so called Law
of St. Patricky many presents were made to him.
{78) In the same year died Coencomrach
0*Boigill, who had been suffragan bishop to Dom-
nald. (79)

(71) $.4.

^72) I cannot here pass by a most glaring instance of Ledwich's


ignoranee, not to call it worse, of Irisli history. At ;;. 435 of
his rhapsody, while blundering about Domnald of Armagh, he
says that the see was then held by the Ostmen. I^est the reader
may doubt of his having uttered such a monstrous assertion, I
shall give his words ; " The Ostmen^ ivho notv possessed the see,
eithe?- had embraced the tenets of the Irish, or icere married, or
held it by hereditary right.'' Thus then the family, wliich usurped
and occupied that see for about 200 years, (see Chap.xxu. §. 13.)
was not Irish but Ostmannic or Danish, and accordingly the
Muredachs, Dubdalethes, Maelmurrys, Amalgaids, Moehosas,
Doninalds, Cellachs, &c. were Ostmen, Northmen, or Danes.
Would not St. Bernard, who inveighs so much against that
family, have told us so, were it true ? Would not our annalists
and historians, were it merely for the honour of Armagh and of
the Irish nation, have stated that tliose usui-pers were foreigners ?
Would the Irish sovereigns of that period Brian Boroimhe, Mael-
seachlin, Turlogh, Murtogh, Mac-Lochlin, «S.c. have allowed Ost-
men or Danes to rule the primatial see of Ireland, and at a time
when the power of said Ostmen was crushed and they were sub-
ject to Irish kings and governors ? Why did not the Danes of
Dublin and Waterford chrect their bishops elect to Armagh instead
of to Canterbury, if that see was then held by the Ostmen ?
Ledwich himself tells us soon after, that the Arniachians were
very angry with the Danes of Dublin for applying on such oc-
casions to the archbishops of Canterbury. This shameful fabri-
cation is on a par with his fable, which he often repeats, of
Christian Ostmen having been in : possession of Armagh in the
ninth century, and of their having introduced St. Patrick into
Ireland. (See Chap. ii. §. 16) It is wonderful, that a man so
profoundly ignorant of the history of this country has dared to
write a book styled its Antiquities. It is in fact a romance cram-
med with misrepresentations-, ; and circumstances that never oc-
curred. There is no pa^*t of Europe except Ireland, where a
])erson would have the effrontery to publish such a work ; but
Ledwich relied on the credulity of the bulk of his Irish readers,
who know something of every ancient history, excepting that of
their own country.

(73) Tr.Th. p. 299. WaveBiJio^JsatCelsus.

(74) Celsus was in the 5pth year of his age, when he died on
the 1st of April A.D. 1129. Hence it follows, that, when con-


secrated, he was, at most, only 26 years old. Han-is C Bishops at
CelsusJ gives him near 27 years; but, following Ware, he
erroneously supposed that liis consecration took place in 1106.
His being consecrated so young was owing to the influence of his
family, which had marked him out as successor to Domnald.

{ 75) St. Bernard, who says of Celsus ( Vit. S. Malach. cap. 7.)
that he was nir bonus ettimoratus, relates, as we have seen (Chap,
XXII. §. 13.), that eight lay married men, not in holy orders, had
preceded him in the possession of the see, and then states how
much grieved Celsus was at the abuses, that followed from that
dreadful system, and how he laboured to prevent the recurrence of
it. Hence it is as clear as day light, that Celsus was not married ;
and hence also it is plain, that the Irish bishops were not allowed
to have wives. For, if they were, why did not those eight so
called archbishops take holy orders ? The fable of Celsus having
been married originated with Hanmer, who ( Chronicle, &)C. p, 203.
nex'o ed.) says, that " he was a mamed man, and died of great
age, and lyeth buried with his wife and children in the said
church," viz. of Armagh, In these few words there are three
lies ! Celsus did not die of great age ; for he was not fifty years
old when he died. 2. He was not, as will be seen, buried at Ar-
magh but at Lismore. 3- He had neither a wife nor children.
Why did not Hanmer give us the names of some of those chil-
dren ? Harris observes, (Bishops at Celsus) that he does not
know on what authority Hanmer has made Celsus a married man.
The fact is, that he had no authority whatsoever, except perhaps
his having misrepresented some words of St. Bernard, who (ib.)
makes mention of a vision, in which, when Celsus was sick, there
appeared to St. Malachy a tall reverend looking woman, who was
called Celsus's wife, and who presented Malachy with a pastoral
staff exactly like that, which belonged to Celsus. It is evident,
'that this female figure was an emblem of the church of Armagh,
the spiritual spouse of Celsus, according to a very usual ecclesias-
tical phrase, and as a few lines higher up St. Bernard introduces
St. Malachy giving the name of spouse to his church of Connor.
Hanmer might have met with this passage, and in his stupidity
transformed the see of Armagh into a real woman. But where
did he find the children ! Usher in his juvenile tract on Corbes, &c.
published in the Collectan. de rebus Hib, vol. 1. must have taken


i'rora Hannier what he has about Celsus having been married ;
but he was afterwards better informed, and accordingly in hii
Discourse on the religion^ &c, (chap. 5.), where he is inquiring
whether the clergy were in ancient times allowed to marry, ha^
not a v^•ord about Celsus. But the doughty Dr. Ledwich still
keeps up this fable, and has even added to the lies of Hanmer.
He tells us, (p. 438) that Celsus " though well affected to Rome,
could not be prevailed on to separate during his life from hi*
wife and children." Good God ! what patience is requisite to read
such balderdash ! Where did the Dr. find, that any one ever
asked Celsus to quit his wife and children ? Or how could he
have been solicited to separate from persons, that were not in
existence ?

(76) St. Bernard, ih. He had got his information chiefly from
Ireland, as appears from his preface ; but his Irish correspondents
seem to have given too high a colouring to the abuses that pre-
vailed, and to have made them more diffused throughout Ireland
than they really were. That there was a great relaxation of dis-
cipline and decay of religion in some parts of Ulster is but too
clear from the description, which he gives of the state of the
diocese of Connor, before St. Malachy undertook the care of it ;
but from St. Bernard's own statement it is evident, as will be seen
elsewhere, that other parts of Ireland were not by any means so
much infected with that gangrene. The Irish bishops, of whom
St. Anselm had some knowledge, viz. those of the Southern half
or Murtogh O'Brian's kingdom (for those of the North and the
state of that portion seem to have been almost unknown to him)
are praised by him as religious, good, and wise men in his letter to
Domnald, &c. (See above ^.7.) The beginning of the letter
shows in what esteem he held them ; " Odorem religionis vestrae
jjlurirnis indiciis agnosceiis, calamitates quas patior decrevi potis-
simum vo])is aperire ; ut, qnmito vicinius assistitis creatori, tanto
familiarius angustias meas in conspectu ejus valeatis indicare, et
indicantes compassionis gemitibus ipsius misericordiam ?nihi im-
petrare" And towards the end of it he says; " Praeterea, quam-
ciuam recfe viventem recteque .sapieiitem, pastorali sollicitudine
fraternitatem vestram," &c. And lower down ; " Iterum, charissimi,
rogamus vos ; orate pro nobis, erigite nos de tribulationibus nostris
manu vestrae oraiioiiis, piis Jletibus pvlsanies aures dementiae


Deiy Where such bishaps presided, it was impossible that bar-
barism, amounting to a sort of paganism, could prevail. This
letter was written in 1095 during the very height of the power of
the pseudo-archbishops of Armagh, and only ten years before the
accession of the good bishop Celsus. And about eleven or
twelve years later writing to Gillebert of Limerick (above f.9.)
he makes no complaint as to any great abuses in Ireland, and speaks
of Gillebert's fellow bishops as persons, whom he should apply ta
for forwarding his views. Gillebert himself in his prologue De iisit
ecclesiastico addresses those fellow bishops in a style of the greatest
respect as pious and worthy persons. It is therefore certain, that
St. Bernard's general complaint or invective was not applicable to
all Ireland nor even to one half of it, although it was true as to
the diocese of Connor and, I dare say, to some adjoining parts.
He refers to what he had written before concerning that diocese,
as explanatory of the view he gives of all Ireland ; but it did not
follow that, because matters were bad enough in Connor, they
were so every where else. He states as an instance of what he
calls paganism the multiplication of bishops, as a thing unheard of
since the very beginning of Christianity. St. Bernard was not
aware, that this was owing to the Irish system of cJiorcpiscopi.
Yet I allow, that it was carried too far. At any rate it was not
paganism, and he was mistaken in supposing that the multiplying
of bishops was a circumstance unheard of. For it is well known,
that in the earlier times of the church a bishop was placed in every
town, where there was a considerable number of faithful, (see
Fleury, Instit. au Dr. Eccl. Part i. ch. 3.) so that what St. Bernard
says of Ireland, viz. that almost every church had a bishop of its
own, was actually followed ; whereas there was usually in those
times only one church in each town. Nor was there any law

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 3 of 45)