Friday 30 November 2012

Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle

There is a beautiful entry in the Irish Martyrology of Oengus on November 30 to mark the feast day of Saint Andrew the Apostle:

E. Pridie cal. Decembris.

30. Andrew who is boldest,
against a cross -step most perfect-,
puts a top, which I declare
on November's hosts.

The 12 Apostles feature in a number of the Irish sources, including a most interesting 12th-century poem in the Codex Maelbrighte, which describes the physical appearance of Christ and His Apostles. It describes Saint Andrew along with Saint James:
James (and) Andrew the comrades,
Fair their hairs, long their beard.
Dear, great deacons were the pair,
Both James and Andrew.

And thus, the Apostle Andrew, as Saint Oengus the Martyrologist says, 'puts a top on November's hosts'!

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Thursday 29 November 2012

A Few of the Most Eminent of the Irish Saints

Books written for children are among my favourite sources for the lives of the saints. I was recently having a look at an early twentieth-century school textbook 'A Child's History of Ireland', and saw that the author, P.W. Joyce, included a list of what he termed 'a few of the most eminent of the Irish saints'. I am always interested when reading any source to note which saints are under discussion, since the cult of the saints is not a static thing and interest in individual saints tends to wax and wane over the centuries. In Joyce's list, which is a footnote to a longer entry for each of the three Irish patrons, he begins by numbering some of the great monastic founders, then moves on to a representative selection of Irish saints who flourished in Europe and finishes with the ninth-century scholar John Scotus Erigena. It is worth noting that in addition to Saint Brigid, he includes another two women in the list, Saints Ita and Dympna:

Besides Patrick, Brigit, and Columkille, the following are a few of the most eminent of the Irish saints:

St. Ailbe of Emly in Limerick, who was ordained bishop of Cashel by St. Patrick: he was ecclesiastical head of Munster.

St. Enna or Endeus of Aran in Galway Bay; died about 542. This island was afterwards called Ara-na-Naemh [naive], Aran of the saints, from the number of holy men who lived in it.

St. Finnen of Clonard, the founder of the great school there: called "The Tutor of the Saints of Ireland": died 549.

St. Ciaran [Kieran] of Clonmacnoise, which became one of the greatest of all the Irish monasteries: died 549.

St. Ciaran or Kieran, the patron of Ossory: born in the island of Cape Clear; but his father belonged to Ossory: died about 550.

St. Ita, Ida, or Mida, virgin saint, of Killeedy in Limerick; often called the Brigit of Munster: died 569.

St. Brendan of Clonfert in Galway, or "Brendan the Navigator": born in Kerry: died 577.

St. Senan of Scattery Island in the Shannon: died about 560.

St. Comgall, the founder of the celebrated scbool of Bangor in Down, which rivalled Clonard: died 602.

St. Kevin, the founder of Glendalough in Wicklow: died 618.

St. Carrthach or Mochuda of Lisrnore, where he founded one of Ireland's greatest schools: died 637.

St. Adamnan the biographer of St. Columkille; ninth abbot of Iona: born in Donegal: died 703.

Among the vast number of Irish men and women who became illustrious on the Continent, the following may be named : —

St. Fursa of Peronne and his brothers Foillan and Ultan; Fursa died about 650 (see page 17).

St. Dympna or Domnat of Gheel, virgin martyr, to whom the great sanatorium for lunatics at Gheel in Belgium is dedicated: daughter of an Irish pagan king: martyred, seventh century.

St. Columbanus of Bobbio in Italy, a pupil of Bangor, founded the two monasteries of Luxeuil and Fontaines: expelled from Burgundy for denouncing the vices of king Theodoric; preached successfully to the Gauls; wrote learned letters: finally settled at Bobbio, where he died, 615.

St. Gall, a disciple of Columbanus, patron of St. Gall (in Switzerland) which was named from him.

St. Fridolin the Traveller of Seckingen on the Rhine: died in the beginning of the sixth century.

St. Kilian the apostle of Franconia: martyred 689.

St. Cataldus bishop of Tarentum, from the school of Lismore, where he was a professor: seventh century.

Virgil or Virgilius bishop of Salzburg, called Virgil the Geometer, from his eminence in science: taught, probably for the first time, the rotundity of the earth: died 785.

Clement and Albinus, placed by Charlemagne at the head of two great seminaries.

John Scotus Erigena, celebrated for his knowledge of Greek: the most distinguished scholar of his time in Europe: taught philosophy with great distinction in Paris: died about 870.

P.W.Joyce, A Child’s History of Ireland (Dublin and London, 1910), 81-84.

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Wednesday 28 November 2012

The Irish Tradition of the Antichrist

I have been reading a most interesting paper by the Irish Bibilical scholar, Fr Martin McNamara, on the Irish Legend of Antichrist, a tradition which can be traced back over a millennium. In his paper the author examines an earlier work by another Irish scholar, Brian Ó Cuív, who published an edition of a Middle-Irish work called 'The Conception and Characteristics of Antichrist' in 1973 (Two Items from Apocryphal Tradition', Celtica 10, 87-113). Ó Cuív felt this work dated to ca. 1200 and as a background to it, listed practically all the vernacular Irish texts with descriptions of, or reference to, Antichrist. There are six verse compositions and seven prose, and Ó Cuív noted that there was a certain unity of presentation in these texts. In the text which he edited, the Antichrist story contained the following elements:

(1) Antichrist is the son of his own sister who conceives him when his father, a bishop in Jerusalem, lies with her on the Friday before Easter at the instigation of the devil.

(2) in appearance Antichrist has a face with one eye

(3) he has miraculous powers: he can make gold out of grass and anise (?) and wine out of water, he can cause disease and cure the sick, he can create a moon, sun and elements (?), he can do anything that Christ did on earth except restore people to life; he has a thousand fair women in his company.

Fr McNamara then goes on to examine the verse and prose texts from Ó Cuív's list. The earliest reference is in The Poems of Blathmac (A.D. 750), who ends his two poems in honour of the Virgin Mary with a mention of the slaying of the Antichrist by the Archangel Michael:

'It is Michael, your son's warrior, who will take a saintly sword to the body of impious Antichrist who shall be born of a great sin' (quatrain 259).

Fr McNamara comments: 'Even from this brief poetic text we can gather that Blathmac knew of a developed Antichrist legend, a legend that he draws on, rather than give in any detail. Very significantly, Blathmac's Antichrist tradition also contained the element of his birth 'of a great sin'. This seems proper to the Irish form of the legend as we shall see in consideration of the next item and in some following'.

The next item is the Hiberno-Latin Liber de Numeris (ca. A.D. 750) which is extant in a number of manuscripts and believed by scholar Robert McNally to originate from the Hiberno-Latin circles of Bishop Vergilius of Salzburg. The author arranges his subject according to numbers. The number four has him consider the four beasts of the Book of Daniel, in the examination of which he inserts the section on Antichrist. The belief that Antichrist is to come on earth as a mortal and from the tribe of Dan was widespread. The belief that his birth would be the result of an unnatural union was also known. The Liber de Numeris text, however, presents the union as incest:

'Before the judgement he (i.e. Antichrist) will be set loose for a short while so that he may come and dishonestly and illicitly assume flesh to test the saints and deceive his own, and so that with his own and the impious he may perish all the worse later. From the tribe of Dan he, cruel flesh, takes flesh, and a father sinning in his own daughter makes a cursed child... so that his (i.e. Antichrist's) father appears as his own grandfather and his mother as his sister'.

Such a presentation of the birth of Antichrist, McNally noted, occurs nowhere else. We now know that it is a specific feature of the Irish Antichrist tradition, which was, it would seem, already known by Blathmac.

The author then goes on to examine a number of other texts, most of which mention the Antichrist in passing, among them the Martyrology of Oengus which mentions the slaying of Antichrist in the entry for the Feast of St Michael (September 29) and the poems of Máel Ísu Ua Brolcháin and Bécán Bec mac Dé. There is a more substantial reference in a Poem on the End of the World, ascribed to St Colum Cille. It is found in a 16th-century manuscript amongst a collection of poems attributed to the saint. The poem on the end of the world deals with the Antichrist at its conclusion, even though he is not actually named. The text is incomplete and difficult to translate, but Fr McNamara reproduces Ó Cuív's efforts:

'A macu will come to the world with great strength, a powerful cunning man, a sister of his own will be his mother.
A daughter will conceive him by her own father like a serpent; very beastlike (?) will be the son who will be born in the city.
His teeth will form one surface – certain according to my tidings – a host behind ramparts (?); his slender feet will have six toes according to the mysteries.
A sour resolute man, a scourge from hell, what I say is true, a black hard deceiver with a grey blush protruding from his brow.
He makes (recte will make) gold from biestings of the plain what is more gloomy?'

Fr McNamara now goes on to examine another strand of the Antichrist tradition represented in the Irish sources – its connection to apocryphal works attributed to St John, the Beloved Disciple. I was surprised to learn that texts bearing on the Antichrist and with the Antichrist legend were still being copied in Irish manuscripts as late as the 19th century. One of these is preserved in the collection of the Royal Irish Academy and was the work of a father and son team. The father, Micheál Mac Peadair Uí Longáin, began compiling his manuscript in the 18th century. It includes an item on the coming of the Last Judgement given as a response to a query of St John the Evangelist concerning the end of the world. This appears to end incomplete with the phrase '... at that time Enoch the son of Methusalem will go forth in his human body from the places of the great light of Paradise to encounter the Antichrist”. After this sentence Micheál Óg Ó Longáin, the scribe's son, has appended a text on Antichrist, under the heading Sgel Ainntechrisd, “The Story of Antichrist”. This is followed by the colophon:

'It is now 50 years since my father wrote the beginning of this story of Antichrist, and it is now in the year 1816 that I myself have finished it in Cork, having drawn it from an old vellum book that was written 900 years ago”.

Professor Gerard Murphy was of the opinion that the “ancient vellum book” from which Micheál Óg copied was the Book of Lismore, even though his father's text of the Last Judgement is very different to that found in the Book of Lismore.

Sources and Development of the Irish Legend

Having looked at the Irish texts originally identified by Ó Cuív, Fr McNamara attempts to examine whether they can be related to other known apocalyptic texts in order to identify possible origins. The Irish versions of the Legend which are based around texts relating to St John may originate in the apocryphal Apocalypse of John, although more research is needed to establish the relationships between Irish and eastern material.

Apart from the notion that Antichrist is the result of incest, another feature of Irish texts is the treatment of the physical features of Antichrist, or the Antichrist physiognomy. Bernard McGinn, who published a study in 2000 called 'Antichrist – Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil', has traced the development of the tradition from the beginning. He sees the Antichrist physiognomy as the second most important theme of the period of development (AD 100-500), but notes that it is very much an eastern tradition, indeed it is curious that the Antichrist physiognomies had so little effect on Latin Antichrist beliefs. Almost every important apocalyptic revealer was eventually credited with providing a physical description of Antichrist. McGinn gives a chart detailing 14 examples and of these most are eastern with 2 Latin and 2 Irish (Leabhar Breac and Book of Lismore).

The classic western text on Antichrist comes from around AD 950 in De ortu et tempore Antichristi of Adso, later abbot of Montier-en-Den. The Irish tradition does not belong to this. It is independent of it. As McGinn writes (97-8)

'Antichrist physiognomies accompanied by unusual legendary accretions belonged to the Eastern imagination at this time (950-1000). Yet they became prevalent in one place in western Europe – Ireland, at least from the tenth century on. The native imagination, coupled with the Irish preceliction for apocalyptic literature suspect in other parts of Latin Christendom, seems to have much to do with this unexpected turn of events'.


Fr McNamara concludes by saying:

In this essay I have given the relevant texts and outlined the state of research on the Irish Antichrist Legend as best I can. The time now seems ripe for a thorough examination of this material, through critical editions of all the Irish texts, accompanied with an attempt to situate these in the general history of the Antichrist Legend, at the same time tracing development within the Irish tradition itself over the eleven hundred years between the earliest (ca. AD 750) and latest texts.

Source: Martin McNamara, 'The Irish Legend of Antichrist' in F. Garcia Martinez and G. P.Luttikuizen eds., Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome: Studies in Ancient Cultural Interaction in honour of A. Hilhorst (Brill, 2003), 201-219.

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Tuesday 27 November 2012

Foreign Students at Ireland's Monastic Schools

One group of saints in whom I have become very interested are those Anglo-Saxons who came to Ireland to study in monastic schools such as Rath Melsigi. While reading Fra Anselmo Tommasini's classic book on the Irish saints in Italy I came across the following description of them. I note that the author uses the term Irish and Scots interchangeably, as was the custom in the early middle ages:

Early in the seventh century crowds of foreigners began to flock to the schools of Ireland and to those which the Scots opened outside their island. The names of many of these studious foreigners have come down to us. They include "a certain bishop called Agilbert, by nation a Frenchman, but who had then [A.D. 635] lived a long time in Ireland for the purpose of reading the Scriptures", and who later became "bishop of the city of Paris"; Egbert, "who long lived a monastic life ... in Ireland, praying, observing continence, and meditating on the Holy Scriptures"; Wigbert, "famous for his contempt of the world ... who went abroad and arrived in Friesland, preaching the word of salvation for the space of two years successively...but reaped no fruit of all his great labour among his barbarous auditors"; Willibrord, "the holy bishop of the Frissians"; Hewald the Black and Hewald the White, "both piously religious, but Black Hewald was the more learned of the two in Scripture," and both martyred in Friesland; Haemgils the hermit, "supporting his declining age with coarse bread and water"; Chad, later bishop of Lichfield; Ethelhun, who died of the great plague in A.D. 664, and Ethelwin, his brother, later second Bishop of Lindsey; Eahfrid, the correspondent of Aldhelm, and the Northumbrian princes, Oswald, Oswy and Aldfrid. A Pictish bishop also went to study in Ireland but his name has not been preserved, and the number of English attracted to the holy city of Armagh by the renown of its schools was such that one of the three wards into which it was divided was called the Saxon third. Aldhelm, in a letter to his friend Eahfrid, whoever he may have been, but lately returned home from Ireland, refers with some bitterness to the Scotici scioli ... it was the duty of Englishmen to patronise the schools at home. Another writer reckons in thousands the number of persons engaged in teaching in Ireland: Scotti multa millia paedagogorum habebant. The Scots treated their foreign pupils with rare generosity. "Many of the nobility and of the lower ranks of the English nation were there at that time [sc. A.D. 664, the year of the great plague, described in the Irish Annals as buidhe chonnuil]...who forsaking their native island retired thither, either for the sake of divine studies or of a more continent life...The Scots willingly received them all, and took care to supply them with food, as also to furnish them with books to read, and their teaching, gratis".

All these pupils resorted to the schools of Ireland for instruction in the art of asceticism and the learning of Holy Writ. The 'Celtic' churchmen, Patrick, Gildas, Columban, Cummian, Aidan, Adamnán and Sedulius, were all nourished on the Scriptures.

The Latin Biblical texts in use among the Christian communities in Celtic countries were pre-Vulgate versions. St. Jerome's translation was introduced gradually into Ireland and England in the sixth century and made its way under Columban, Cummian, and Adamnán. The Collectio Hibernensis, the Irish collection of canons, was compiled under Roman auspices early on the eighth century.

Texts of the Vulgate belonging to the Irish family were not confined to the island, and manuscripts carried off to their own countries by foreigners, who had gone to study in Ireland, or by Scots emigrants, are found scattered all over the Continent, so that the pure Irish text may be read in Biblical manuscripts from such different sources as Tours, Angers, Le Mans, Epternach, St. Gall, Reichenau, and Bobbio.

Fra Anselmo Tommasini, O.F.M., Irish Saints in Italy , translated J.F. Scanlan, (London, 1937), 106-8.

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Monday 26 November 2012

Seventh-Century Ireland as a Study Abroad Destination

If you ever thought that the 'foreign exchange student' was a modern phenomenon, read on...

Seventh-Century Ireland as a Study Abroad Destination

Colin Ireland

Beaver College, Dublin, Ireland

As a modern-day International Educator you might easily believe that you are involved in a pioneering endeavor. Would it surprise you to learn that you had predecessors in Ireland thirteen hundred years ago?

Did you know that the Emerald Isle attracted swarms of eager foreign students, principally from England, to its monastic schools as early as the seventh century? Monastic schools were the universities of medieval Europe. In this article I will portray—from the scanty records that survive—scenes from the life of these "study abroad students" in Ireland's early medieval centers of learning.

Trying to reconstruct the society of the early Middle Ages from surviving records is a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle when 90% of the pieces are missing. Everyone stands around and argues about how the remaining 10% of the pieces fit, or even if they belong to the particular puzzle at all.

In order to reconstruct the life of “study abroad students” in seventh-century Ireland I rely primarily on three sources. The first two sources are the English churchmen Aldhelm and Bede. Aldhelm (d.709), abbot of Malmesbury and later bishop of Sherborne, was the first Anglo-Saxon man of letters. Fortunately, at least two letters by him to Anglo-Saxon students who studied in Ireland survive. Bede (d.735), a priest at Wearmouth-Jarrow, was the greatest of the Anglo-Saxon men of letters. He wrote a history of the Anglo-Saxon Church (Historia Ecclesiastica [HE]), cited frequently in this article, which often notes the relationships between the English and the Irish in the seventh century. As English clerical scholars, Aldhelm and Bede are eager to promote the Church of Rome and Anglo-Saxon England’s role in its growth. Nevertheless, they frequently acknowledge the Irish contribution to English Church history and Anglo-Saxon learned culture. Bede tells us, for example, that Irish schools provided English students with free books and free instruction. My third major source is the Hisperica Famina [1] "Western Sayings," a cryptic Latin text written in Ireland by, or about, foreign students sometime probably between c.650 and c.665. The Hisperica Famina are secular in tone and give us our most intimate glimpse into the life of "study abroad students" in early Ireland.

Nowadays many students find Ireland an attractive study abroad destination because it is an English-speaking country. We admire Anglo-Irish literature and such Irish writers as Yeats, Joyce, Beckett, and Shaw, all of whom wrote in English. Yet Ireland’s equally rich Gaelic heritage is often as obscure as the Latin Middle Ages. Many of Ireland’s literary treasures remain hidden because they were written either in Irish (Gaelic) or in Latin. The current worldwide importance of English has made it accepted as the language of higher education, just as Latin was during the Middle Ages. Because we live and work in an English-speaking world, a secondary purpose of mine has been to highlight, where appropriate, Irish influence on Early English (Anglo-Saxon) learned culture, even where that learning has been conveyed through Latin.

Ireland is the first Western European country to create an extensive literature using its own vernacular, Irish, in addition to using Latin. Literature in Irish placed as much emphasis on secular as on religious topics. [2] Nevertheless, Latin, as the language of the Church, was the primary intellectual language of the Middle Ages. During this period, Irish scholars studied and, in turn, taught those Christian Latin authors deemed most important by the Church, while they also created an extensive Hiberno-Latin literature of their own. [3] In other words, learned culture in medieval Ireland was, effectively, bilingual.

Throughout the medieval period the Church was the one institution which was both international in character and cross-cultural in scope. Missionaries brought to the peoples they evangelized both a new religion and a new literate, learned culture in Latin. The medieval Church, therefore, filled roles played by present-day international, educational and cultural organizations. The Church’s monastic schools were Europe’s universities.

They taught religious subjects such as Biblical exegesis and Holy Scripture, as well as secular subjects such as grammar, rhetoric, geometry and physics.

Later in this article I will survey some Irish clerics and scholars who worked outside of Ireland. But most importantly for present purposes, it is through the medieval Church that we can trace the interest of non-Irish “study abroad students” in Ireland’s medieval universities, its monastic schools.

Monastic Schools and Monastic Learning in Seventh-Century Ireland

Several Irish monasteries developed into important centers of learning during the seventh century. The sites of monasteries mentioned below can still be located on modern road maps. A few sites are merely ruined stone walls, but several have survived as thriving modern communities.

The monastic school at Armagh (Ard Machae), Co. (County) Armagh, actively produced seventh-century hagiographical works about St. Patrick. [4] Kildare (Cill Dara), Co. Kildare, promoted works about St. Brigit in the same century. [5] Kildare also contained an important scriptorium. The monastic scholar Laidcenn mac Baíth Bannaig (d.661) worked at Clonfert-Mulloe (Clúain Ferta Mo-lua), Co. Laois. [6] Cuimmíne Fota (d.662), another monastic scholar, worked in Clonfert (Clúain Ferta Brénainn), Co. Galway. [7] Glendalough (Glenn dá locha), in the mountains of Co. Wicklow, and Clonmacnoise (Clúain mac Nóis), Co. Offaly, on the banks of the River Shannon, are the homes of manuscript compilations of religious and secular texts.

Columba (d.597), the first great wandering Irish monk, was educated, among other places, at the monastic school at Clonard (Clúain Iraird), Co. Meath. Clonard produced the scholar Ailerán (d.665). [8] Subsequently, at least three scholars at the Carolingian palace schools on the continent made extensive use of Ailerán’s work. They include the Englishman Alcuin (d.804), Walahfrid Strabo (d.849), and Hrabanus Maurus (d.856).

The monastic school at Iona in Scotland, founded by Columba, had a profound influence on Anglo-Saxon Northumbria. Although Iona is not geographically in Ireland, at this time and for several centuries subsequently, much of Scotland was culturally and politically Irish. A significant body of literature, both in Latin and Irish, was produced in seventhcentury Iona. [9] Several Anglo-Saxon kings came under the influence of Iona. King Oswald (634-42), educated and baptized among the Irish, is commemorated in Irish records as ardrí Saxan sóerdae “noble high-king of the English.” [10] Oswald invited Irish missionaries from Iona into his kingdom and even acted as interpreter for them (HE iii 3). [11] Bede (d.735) stated that King Oswiu (642-70), brother of Oswald, having been educated among the Irish, thought that no learning could be better (HE iii 25). King Aldfrith (685-705), son of Oswiu, had an Irish mother and Bede stated that he was educated among the Irish. [12] Aldfrith was renowned among the Irish for his scholarship and may have written texts in the Irish language. [13]

The Irish pilgrim Columbanus (d.615) had studied grammar, rhetoric, geometry and Holy Scripture in the monastery at Bangor (Bennchuir), Co. Down, in the mid-sixth century before he set out for the continent. [14] Bangor was an important monastic literary center, using both Latin and the Irish language. Secular and religious texts were composed there. One of the most famous works is the so-called Antiphonary of Bangor, [15] compiled between 680 and 691. It is not a true antiphonary, but it contains many fine Hiberno-Latin religious poems. Several early vernacular texts are associated with Bangor. Most of these texts are secular, or at least non-religious, in nature. Examples include Immram Brain “The Voyage of Bran,” which deals with a voyage across the western ocean to the “otherworld,” and stories about the Ulster prince Mongán mac Fiachnai (d.625), in which some of the episodes take place in Anglo-Saxon England. [16] It has recently been argued that the Hisperica Famina “Western Sayings,” which will be discussed in greater detail presently, may have originated in Bangor. [17]

Evidence for Irish Monastic Schools from Anglo-Saxon Sources

The Anglo-Saxon scholars and churchmen Aldhelm (d.709 as bishop of Sherbourne) and Bede (d.735 at Wearmouth-Jarrow), provide our clearest pictures of seventh-century Irish monastic education from an out-sider’s perspective. Both Aldhelm and Bede grew up in an England that, only a generation before, had been pagan. The conversion of Ireland, on the other hand, had begun in the fifth century. The twelfth-century historian, William of Malmesbury, stated that Aldhelm had had an Irish teacher named Máeldub. This seems likely since Aldhelm had served as abbot of Malmesbury, and Bede (writing c.731) had referred to Malmesbury as Maildubi urbs “Máeldub’s city” (HE v 18).

Bede himself was born into an Anglo-Saxon Northumbria only recently converted by the Irish. When Bede was between the ages of 13 and 33, Northumbria was ruled by the Irish-educated King Aldfrith. Bede’s monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow had benefited from the royal patronage of Aldfrith. Both Aldhelm and Bede were ecclesiastics, and their primary concern with religious education is obvious in their remarks about Irish monastic schools.

The high-point of Anglo-Saxon education in the late seventh century was the school run by Theodore and Hadrian at Canterbury. Bede boasted that the school at Canterbury provided students with a knowledge of both Latin and Greek (HE iv 2, v 8, v 20, v 23). Bishop Aldhelm himself had spent a few years there.

Nevertheless, Aldhelm felt the need to defend the school at Canterbury against the prestige of Irish schools. Aldhelm complained of English students flocking to Ireland rather than staying in England for their educations. Aldhelm queried rhetorically: “Why, I ask, is Ireland, whither assemble the thronging students by the fleet-load, exalted with a sort of ineffable privilege?” [18]

Aldhelm admitted that the “opulent and verdant country of Ireland is adorned, so to speak, with a browsing crowd of scholars,” [19] but he also showed that the traffic in eager students crossed the Irish Sea in both directions. Aldhelm described Theodore as being “hemmed in by a mass of Irish students, like a savage wild boar checked by a snarling pack of hounds.” [20] The venerable Theodore, however, was able to counter the challenging students “with the filed tooth of the grammarian.” [21]

Aldhelm’s complaints, cited above, are found in a letter addressed to an Englishman named Ehfridus (Heahfrith) who had returned to England after six years of study in Ireland “bursting with praise for learning.” Aldhelm’s letter to Ehfridus implied that grammar, geometry, physics and Biblical exegesis were available to the English students in Irish monastic schools in the seventh century. [22]

Aldhelm intimated that Ehfridus had spent time at Mayo of the Saxons (Mag nÉo na Saxan), [23] a monastic site in the west of Ireland mentioned by Bede and populated primarily by Englishmen (HE iv 4). Approximately thirty English monks had accompanied the Irish bishop Colmán to found a monastery in 668 at Inishboffin (Inis Bó Finne), an island off the west coast of Ireland. This occurred after the decision at the Council of Whitby in 664 which saw the end to Irishmen holding the bishopric of Lindisfarne in Northumbria (HE iii 25).

Mayo of the Saxons continued to thrive and attract Englishmen for more than a century after its foundation. For example, we know that in 732 an Englishman, Gerald, died as pontifex “bishop” there. In the late eighth century, the English scholar Alcuin (d.804) addressed a letter to the English monks at Mayo of the Saxons and mentioned their growing numbers, proving that Englishmen continued to travel as “study abroad students” to the west of Ireland. [24] The monastery’s presumed location is in the town of Mayo in the county of that name.

Bede discussed many Anglo-Saxon missionaries to the continental Germanic pagans who were trained in Ireland, probably at a monastic school at Ráth Melsigi in Co. Carlow, near the River Barrow. [25] The location of this monastic school is now, unfortunately, destroyed by a gravel quarry. [26] Bede’s account emphasizes the importance of the Irish monastic schools to English ecclesiastical history and missionary efforts.

We know the names of many of these English “study abroad students” in Ireland. Willibrord was one such. After a successful mission he became archbishop of the Frisians in 696. He studied in Ireland between c.677-690 (HE iii 13). Another Englishman, Ecgberht, spent his entire adult life among the Irish. He lived to the venerable age of ninety (HE v 9). He evidently attended and worked at the school in Ráth Melsigi between c.664-716. In 716 he went to Iona where he stayed until his death in 729 (HE iii 27).

Yet another Englishman, Wihtberht, lived and studied for many years in Ireland, probably at the school in Ráth Melsigi. After two unsuccessful years on mission in Frisia, he returned to Ireland, where he achieved prominence in Irish ecclesiastical circles (HE v 9). Wihtberht’s reputation among the Irish was such that he was celebrated in the ninth century Irish martyrology, Félire Óengusso.

Two Englishmen, Black Hewald and White Hewald, trained at the school in Ráth Melsigi for their missions to the Old Saxons on the continent. Both suffered martyrdom at the hands of the continental pagans (HE v 10). Other Anglo-Saxons at Ráth Melsigi’s school include the brothers Æthelhun and Æthelwine (the latter became bishop of Lindsey in England; HE iii 27), and Chad, who became fifth bishop of the Mercians in England (HE iv 3).

Continentals, not just Englishmen, also studied at the Irish monastic schools. Bede related the story of Agilberht, a Gaul by birth, who became bishop of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in Wessex (c.650 to 663). But before coming to England Agilberht “had spent a long time in Ireland for the purpose of studying the Scriptures” (HE iii 7). Political intrigues caused Agilberht eventually to leave Anglo-Saxon England and return to his native land, where for many years he served as bishop of Paris. Thus we see the career of a continental whose “study abroad” experience in Ireland prepared him for bishoprics in England and France.

We also know that one of the Merovingian monarchs, Dagobert II (d.679), “studied abroad” in Ireland. Dagobert, in his youth, was brought from France to Ireland as a political exile. Tradition has it that he received an education fit for a king, probably at the abbey in Slane (Sláine), Co. Meath. Slane was a wealthy monastery at this time. Its contacts extended throughout Ireland and onto the continent, specifically to St. Fursa’s Irish monastery of Péronne in France. [28]

Secular Learning in Irish Monastic Schools

Bede and Aldhelm confirm that Irish monastic schools also produced secular learning despite their priorities of promoting religious study and ecclesiastical education. For example, Bede related an anecdote, attributed to the Englishman Willibrord, of “a scholar of Irish race who was well-read in literature but utterly uninterested and careless in the matter of his eternal salvation” (HE iii 13). In other words, Bede made it clear that a student at an Irish monastic school might be more concerned with the life of the mind than with the salvation of his soul.

Aldhelm had written a letter (sometime between 673 and 706) to an Englishman named Wihtfrith who intended to study in Ireland. Aldhelm warned Wihtfrith against the temptations of prostitutes. He also encouraged Wihtfrith to avoid the teachings about the Classical pagan deities, which he implied Wihtfrith would find abundantly in Irish schools instead of scriptural studies. [29] The Hisperica Famina “Western Sayings” confirm that seventh-century Irish monastic scholars were acquainted with Classical deities and myths. [30]

We have no clear evidence of what secular topics were actively taught at Irish monastic schools. We do, however, have texts which suggest the secular topics that intrigued seventh-century monastic students. The Hisperica Famina has been mentioned and will be discussed presently. It was probably produced at the monastic school in Bangor. Other texts which may also have originated in Bangor include the Irish Immram Brain, “The Voyage of Bran,” about a journey across the Western Ocean, and the stories about Mongán (d.625), a sort of Irish culture hero. [31] Táin Bó Fraích, “The Cattle Raid of Fróech,” is another Irish language text from this period. Fróech was a legendary hero who wooed the daughter of King Ailill and Queen Medb (Maeve). In order to win their daughter, Fróech promised to accompany Ailill and Medb’s military expedition against the province of Ulster. [32] The story of this expedition is told in the greatest of the early Irish epics, the Táin Bó Cúailnge “The Cattle Raid of Cooley.” [33] This epic tells how the Ulster hero, Cú Chulainn, withstood the invasion through a series of extraordinary single combats.

A ‘Study Abroad’ Student’s Life in Seventh-Century Ireland

Bede (writing c.731) stated that during the decades of the 650s and 660s, Englishmen of all social classes, “both nobles and commons,” left England in order to study abroad in Ireland (HE iii 27). Following his ecclesiastical predilections, Bede stated that these Englishmen came to pursue religious studies. However, he admitted that some of these Englishmen preferred to travel throughout Ireland, studying under various teachers rather than submitting to a strict monastic regime. Bede said that the “Irish welcomed them all gladly, gave them their daily food, and also provided them with books to read and with instruction, without asking for any payment” (HE iii 27). Bede’s words read like an international educator’s fondest dream—easy access to higher education in a foreign country without financial strain for the student, regardless of social class.

Many lines in the Hisperica Famina support Bede’s statements and describe how foreign students were to be found among the Irish population. The Hisperica Famina are seventh-century texts written in an obscure and artificial Latin. Much of the vocabulary has been derived from Greek, Semitic, or Celtic language sources and provided with Latinate inflexional endings. Critics are not fully agreed on their purpose, but they would appear to be advanced school exercises in which the rhetorician describes a scene or phenomenon by deliberately using the most abstruse vocabulary possible. Many of these descriptions end in phrases which suggest that the rhetoricians are competing among themselves and composing under an imposed time limit.

The Hisperica Famina derive from a learned monastic milieu and mention God, prayer and a chapel. They are not religious writings, however, but rather are secular in tone and topic. They survive in several versions. The A-text, edited and translated by Michael Herren, [34] is the most accessible version, and will be cited in translation for this discussion.

The most relevant section of the A-text is called the Lex Diei, “The Rule of the Day.” Its opening describes the birds at sunrise in their search for food and proceeds with a pastoral scene including cattle, sheep, swine, horses and even dolphins. The humans described are the rural peasants who undertake herding and field labors. The students we first encounter are housed in large halls or dormitories among the peasants and not, apparently, in a monastic enclosure.

Like students everywhere, they claim to have been “burning the midnight oil” and complain of being awakened. They ask rhetorically, “Why do you oppress us with a thunderous crash of words and perturb the inner caverns of our ears with turgid speech? For we have devoted an entire measure of moonlight to studious wakefulness … wherefore a feeling of drowsiness now overcomes us.” [35] The students nevertheless rise, wipe their eyes, and begin study of their vellum books: “… cleanse away nocturnal scum with fountain water. Remove the speckled volumes from the curved satchels and heed your rhetoric assignment.” [36]

That the wandering students were foreigners and not Irish seems borne out by the following lines which precede their begging for food: “Who will ask these possessors to grant us their sweet abundance? For an Ausonian chain binds me; hence I do not utter good Irish speech.” [37] The editor would interpret the phrase “Ausonian chain” (ausonica catena) as the Latin language which the foreign students were able to use as a lingua franca in the confines of the monastic schools. But once they dispersed among the local population to beg food (as mendicants) they had to rely on the Irish language which they did not know, or knew only poorly, in order to communicate their needs. [38]

Bede’s claim that the Irish provided foreign students with their daily food without asking for payment is supported by statements in the Lex Diei. For example, a rhetorician is made to say, “I have penetrated the remote farms of this region, and I seek out the charming inhabitants who feed the choirs of wandering scholars.” [39] The hospitality of the locals is stressed: “The charming townspeople apologize for having such meager supplies at hand. Cleave the victuals given to us with sharp knives, and set the wooden tables with heaps of food ….”[40] Later in the text, a bombastic rhetorician expresses his appreciation by saying: “I hope from the deepest recess of my heart that the inhabitants may enjoy a prolonged and worthy life who have bestowed on us their honeyed abundance and have given us mounds of delicious food.” [41]

A scholar’s articles, like book satchels and wax writing tablets, are also noted in the text. For example, the students at one point are exhorted to “Hang your white booksacks on the wall, set your lovely satchels in a straight line, so that they will be deemed a grand sight by the rustics…” [42] One section, De Taberna “On the Book Container,” describes a book satchel, how it is made of sheepskin, and how a craftsman stretches the hide and shapes the leather container. [43] A seventh-century Irish poem, which may have been composed by Adomnán (d.704), abbot of Iona, begins “A maccucáin, sruith in tíag” “Young boy, venerable is the satchel (that you take upon your back).” [44] The Irish poem appears to describe such a book satchel and the contents, both concrete and ideal, that a young monastic scholar would find within it.

Another section, De Tabula “About the Writing Tablet,” describes a waxen writing tablet which has carved and painted designs along its borders. The tablet, according to the Hisperica Famina, “contains the mysteries of rhetoric in waxen spheres.” [45] Seventh-century wax tablets have been recovered from a bog in Co. Antrim which still preserve verses of the Psalms inscribed on them. [46]

Other archaeological evidence concurs with the descriptions from the Hisperica Famina. The section De Oratorio “About the Chapel” describes a wooden chapel with a square foundation, vaulted ceilings and ornamented roof which contains an altar where the priests say mass. [47] Both literary and archaeological evidence prove that seventh-century Irish churches tended to be timber constructions with square or rectangular foundations. [48] On the other hand, the dwellings of the local inhabitants are always described as being round, tugoria turrita. [49] Again, literary and archaeological evidence proves that typical seventh-century Irish dwellings were round. [50]

Certain Irish social customs are also recounted in the Hisperica Famina. The early Irish bathed frequently and made provision for the bathing of guests as an act of hospitality. The A-text describes the custom of cleaning the feet of travelers: “Fill the steady hand basin with water and wash your dirty feet with flowing draughts; wipe clean your muddy soles with the clear liquid,” [51] and again: “pour a clear draught from the wooden tank and wash your dirty feet.” [52] The early Irish had a highly developed vocabulary for bathing, with separate words for washing the feet, the hands, hair, or immersing the entire body. [53] Osaic was the Old Irish word for washing the feet. As can be seen, the Hisperica Famina accurately portrayed the seventh-century world of these “study abroad students” in Ireland.

Irish Scholars and Clerics Beyond Ireland’s Shores

One of the best ways to gauge the excellent quality of the Irish monastic schools is to survey some of the Irish clerics and intellectuals who were educated in them but exercised their talents abroad. Many Irish clerics went to the Merovingian (pre-800) kingdoms on the continent as missionaries to convert pagans or to strengthen the Church’s organizations, including monastic schools. Irish scholars that we find in the Carolingian (post-800) courts are often intellectuals seeking the stimulation of the court schools. The presence of these Irish clerics and scholars can be traced through Scotland, England, Wales, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Austria and beyond.

The frequency with which these Irish churchmen undertook voluntary exile shows that what is known as the Irish “Diaspora” of recent centuries is not a new phenomenon. All but one of the following ultimately settled somewhere on the continent.

Columba is the first of the great wandering Irish monks. Tradition states that he left Ireland as a form of penance. He crossed the sea to Scotland where he established the island monastery of Iona c.563. Legend has it that Columba trained as a poet before becoming a cleric. [54] The Life of Columba, written by Adomnán, abbot of Iona from 679-704, is an important primary source for the period. [55] Iona evangelized Anglo-Saxon Northumbria beginning in the decade of the 630s. As has been mentioned, the Northumbrian kings Oswald, Oswiu, and Aldfrith received their educations at Iona or under its sphere of influence. Their reigns helped lay the foundations for a “Northumbrian Golden Age” in the late seventh and early eighth centuries. Columba died in 597.

Columbanus, who trained at the monastery of Bangor, Co. Down in Northern Ireland, is the first of the great pilgrims to the continent. He left Bangor c.590 and travelled with twelve companions to the Merovingian kingdoms in the region of Burgundy, France, where he founded monasteries at Annagray, Fontaines, and Luxeuil. His most famous foundation was Bobbio in northern Italy. Bobbio served as a stopover for pilgrimages to Rome, and continued to be a center of Irish influence for several centuries. [56] Columbanus left a surprisingly large body of writings, which include letters (some to popes), monastic rules, penitentials and poems. [57] An Italian monk named Jonas wrote a Life of Columbanus c.640. [58] Columbanus died in 615.

Gall was one of Columbanus’ companions to the continent, but he was unable to continue the journey to Italy with Columbanus because of illness. Gall, therefore, remained behind and went on to found the monastery of St. Gallen near Lake Constance in Switzerland. His impact can be gauged by the fact that several Lives were written about him. Among his biographers are such noted ninth-century intellectuals as Walahfrid Strabo (c.833) and Nokter Balbulus (c.885). [59] Gall died c.630.

Fursa is another Irish cleric to go to the continent, but first he established a monastery among the Anglo-Saxons of East Anglia c.632. Within a few years he left England and founded a monastery in Picardy, north of Paris. It was known as Perrona Scottorum “Péronne of the Irish,” and became, like Columbanus’ Bobbio in northern Italy, a European center of Irish influence. Like Columbanus, Fursa travelled with Irish companions, several of whom became famous in their own right. Cellán (d.706), an Irish abbot of Péronne, and Aldhelm (d.709), the Anglo-Saxon scholar and churchman, corresponded with each other. [60] The medieval writings about Fursa are also extensive. [61] Anglo-Saxon authors who wrote about Fursa include Bede (c.731; HE iii 19) and Ælfric (d.c.1012). Fursa died c.650.

Kilian is the most successful of the Irish missionaries to Germany. He is especially revered at Würzburg. Interlinear Irish glosses in Latin manuscripts preserved at Würzburg helped nineteenth-century philologists reconstruct the Old Irish language. We know that Kilian spent approximately two years in Rome, probably around 686/7. He was martyred shortly after his return from Rome to Würzburg c.689. [62]

In 743 the Merovingian king Pippin sent the Irishman Virgil to Bavaria after putting down an insurrection there. Virgil worked in the region with other Irishmen, and by 755 he was consecrated bishop at Salzburg, Austria. Virgil is remembered for the conflict between himself and the English missionary Boniface. The latter evidently accused Virgil to the Pope of belief in the doctrine of the antipodes, “that there are another world and other men under the earth, and another sun and moon.” No action was ever taken against Virgil for this charge. The Englishman Alcuin (d.804), who was famous in the Carolingian palace schools, wrote a poem about Virgil, who died in 784. [63]

Dicuil is one of the Irishmen who had the greatest intimacy with the Carolingian court. We know little about his background other than that he was active in the court schools by 814. [64] In 825 his most famous work, De Mensura Orbis Terrae, “On the Measurement of the Earth,” appeared. [65] In this early treatise on world geography he related the account of an Irish pilgrim to the Holy Land which included a description of the “barns of Joseph” on the Nile, that is, the pyramids in Egypt. He discussed the Irish hermits who sailed to isolated islands in the North Atlantic and used eyewitness accounts of these same Irish hermits in Iceland (before the arrival of the Norse) to describe the midnight sun. We have no firm date for Dicuil’s death.

Sedulius Scottus is one of the most widely known of the Irish scholars in the Carolingian courts. Modern scholars usually speak of “the Circle of Sedulius” since Sedulius, like all of the Irish mentioned, travelled as part of a group. [66] We know practically nothing of Sedulius until he reached the continent. By 848 he had arrived at Liège, Belgium. It has been suggested that he was a member of an embassy sent from the Irish high-king, Máel Sechlainn, to the court of Charles the Bald. The entourage may have stopped off in Wales at the court of King Rhodri Mawr. Sedulius’ most famous work is De Rectoribus Christianis, “On Christian Rulers.”[67] It belongs to the genre known as specula prin-cipum,“mirrors for princes,” intended as instruction for rulers. One of its main tenants is that the ruler is appointed by God to protect and assist the Church. The Anglo-Saxon homilist, Wulfstan (d.1023), relied on Sedulius’ work in writing his own “Institutes of Polity.” By 874 Sedulius disappeared from history.

Johannes Scottus Eriugena is the most widely respected as an original thinker of the Irish scholars in Carolingian France. He was a contemporary of Sedulius Scottus. Bertrand Russell called Johannes “the most astonishing person of the ninth century” and went on to say that “he was an Irishman, a Neo-platonist, an accomplished Greek scholar, a Pelagian, a pantheist.” [68]  Like Sedulius, we know practically nothing of Johannes, except through the works he produced on the continent. The name he is known by is tautological. “Scottus” means “an Irishman” and “Eriugena” means “born in Ireland.” He must have arrived at the palace school of Laon, northeast of Paris, by 845. By 851 he produced his De Praedestinatione, “On Predestination,” in which he defended free will, but he relied primarily on philosophy rather than divine revelation for its defense. [69] His most famous work is De Divisione Naturae, “On the Division of Nature.” [70] It is the first great philosophical production of medieval Western Europe. His knowledge of Greek, and his reliance on Greek texts in the original, is unsurpassed by any of his contemporaries. The source of his knowledge has yet to be satisfactorily explained. After about 870 we hear nothing more of Johannes.

The above brief survey shows that Irish clerics and scholars who trained in Ireland left their marks well beyond Ireland’s shores. These native Irishmen studied at the same Irish monastic schools that accepted “study abroad students.”

Eclecticism and Being At Home Abroad

The dynamic eclecticism of early Irish learned culture should be evident from this survey. Irish scholars were famed at home and abroad throughout the Middle Ages. Those Irishmen who went abroad brought with them, in essence, a bit of Ireland. Irish monastic schools also took in foreign scholars from abroad. The majority of “study abroad students” in medieval Ireland, for whom we have clear records, came from Anglo-Saxon England.

Modern Ireland is again active in the international exchange of students and scholars. Foreign students studying abroad in Ireland today, whether they come from North America, Europe, or elsewhere, still find a hospitable Irish welcome. They also find the same literary dynamism and eclecticism as existed in medieval Ireland. In this century alone James Joyce’s Ulysses has proven to be one of the most influential novels ever written. His Finnegan’s Wake provides abundant proof of continuing eclecticism. Ireland has also produced four Nobel Literary Prize winners this century: W.B. Yeats (1923), George Bernard Shaw (1925), Samuel Beckett (1969), and Seamus Heaney (1995).

Like many medieval Irish scholars, each of these five modern Irish writers has spent extended periods outside of Ireland, sometimes writing in other languages, and often earning their living as teachers. Since these modern writers all write in English, their influence has been worldwide. Nevertheless, they remain distinctly Irish while displaying universality. Likewise, medieval Irish scholars helped disseminate a unified culture through the Latin of the Church, while at the same time maintaining a special Irish essence.

1 For purposes of this article I rely exclusively on the edition by Michael W. Herren, ed. and trans., The Hisperica Famina: I. The A-Text, a New Critical Edition with English Translation and Philological Commentary (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1974).
2 For a good overview, see J.E. Caerwyn Williams and Patrick F. Ford, The Irish Literary Tradition (Cardiff: U of Wales P; Belmont, MA: Ford & Bailie, 1992) and Robin Flower, The Irish Tradition (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1947). The intellectual life of medieval Ireland has recently captured the popular imagination. See the simplistic but entertaining bestseller by Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization, the Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe (New York: Doubleday; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1995).
3 Two works by Helen Waddell are backed by solid scholarship yet provide the non-specialist with an excellent introduction to this period. See The Wandering Scholars (London: Constable, 1927) and Medieval Latin Lyrics 4th ed. (1933; London: Constable, 1947).
4 Tírechán and Muirchú are Patrician hagiographers who wrote in the last quarter of the seventh century. See Ludwig Bieler, ed. and trans., The Patrician Texts in the Book of Armagh, Scriptores Latini Hiberniae X (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1979). Michael Lapidge and Richard Sharpe, A Bibliography of Celtic-Latin Literature 400-1200 (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1985) 83 § 301 (Tírechán), 84 § 303 (Muirchú).
5 For a translation and evaluation of Brigit’s earliest surviving Life, see Sean Connolly, “Cogitosus’s Life of St Brigit, Content and Value,” Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 117 (1987): 5-27. Lapidge and Sharpe 84 § 302.
6 Colin Ireland, “Aldfrith of Northumbria and the Learning of a Sapiens,” in A Celtic Florilegium, Studies in Memory of Brendan O Hehir, ed. Kathryn A. Klar, Eve E. Sweetser and Claire Thomas (Lawrence, Mass.: Celtic Studies Publications, 1996) 63-77, at pp. 64-5. Lapidge and Sharpe 80-81 §§ 293-4.
7 Ireland, “Aldfrith and Learning” 65-6. Lapidge and Sharpe 79-80 § 292.
8 Aidan Breen, ed. and trans., Ailerani Interpretatio Mystica et Moralis Progenitorvm Domini Iesv Christi (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1995). Ireland, “Aldfrith and Learning” 67. Lapidge and Sharpe 82-3 §§ 299300.
9 For a sense of the variety of texts produced at Iona during the seventh century, see Thomas Owen Clancy and Gilbert Márkus, ed. and trans., Iona: The Earliest Poetry of a Celtic Monastery (Edinburgh: U. Edinburgh Press, 1995).
10 Whitley Stokes, ed., Félire Óengusso Céli Dé: The Martyrology of Oengus the Culdee (1905; Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1984) 174.
11 One of our best sources for Britain and Ireland in this period is Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica (hereafter referred to as HE). The best edition is Bertram Colgrave and R.A.B. Mynors, ed., Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969).
12 Colin Ireland, “Aldfrith of Northumbria and the Irish Genealogies,” Celtica 22 (1991): 64-78.
13 Ireland, “Aldfrith and Learning,” 73-6. See my forthcoming edition of Old Irish maxims attributed to Aldfrith under his Irish name Flann Fína: Old Irish Wisdom Attributed to Aldfrith of Northumbria, an Edition of Bríathra Flainn Fhína maic Ossu, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies CCV (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1999).
14 John Ryan SJ, Irish Monasticism, Origins and Early Development 2nd ed. (1972; Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1992) 378; G.S.M. Walker, ed. and trans., Sancti Columbani Opera, Scriptores Latini Hiberniae II (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1957) lxvi-lxxii.
15 An antiphonary is a collection of antiphons, short verses sung by one side of a choir in response to those sung by the other. They are usually based on, or in response to, Biblical verses such as Psalms, canticles, etc.
16 Kuno Meyer, The Voyage of Bran Son of Febal to the Land of the Living (1895; Felinfach: Llanerch, 1994).
17 Jane Stevenson, “Bangor and the Hisperica Famina,” Peritia 6-7 (1987-88): 202-216.
18 Michael Lapidge and Michael Herren, trans., Aldhelm, the Prose Works (Ipswich: D.S. Brewer; Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1979) 163.
19 Lapidge and Herren 163.
20 Lapidge and Herren 163.
21 Lapidge and Herren 163.
22 Lapidge and Herren 161-2.
23 Lapidge and Herren 145, 161.
24 See Stephen Allott, Alcuin of York c. A.D. 732 to 804 — His Life and Letters (York: William Sessions, 1974) 44-5 § 33.
25 See Michael Richter, “Die irische Hintergrund der angelsächsischen Mission,” in Die Iren und Europa im früheren Mittelalter, ed. Heinz Löwe, 2 vol. (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1982) 120-37.
26 Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, “Rath Melsigi, Willibrord, and the Earliest Echternach Manuscripts,” Peritia 3 (1984): 17-49.
27 Colin Ireland, “Some Analogues of the O.E. Seafarer from Hiberno-Latin Sources,” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 92.1 (1991): 9 and notes 38, 39.
28 J. M. Picard, “Church and Politics in the Seventh Century: The Irish Exile of King Dagobert II,” in Ireland and Northern France A.D. 600850, ed. Jean-Michel Picard (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1991) 27-52.
29 Lapidge and Herren 154-5.
30 Herren 39-44.
31 For Immram Brain and the Mongán stories, see Meyer, Voyage of Bran.
32 For a translation of this tale, see Jeffrey Gantz, trans., Early Irish Myths and Sagas (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1981) 113-26 “The Cattle Raid of Fróech.” The standard edition is by Wolfgang Meid, ed., Táin Bó Fraích (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1967).
33 For a translation, see Thomas Kinsella, trans., The Tain, Translated from the Irish Epic Tain Bo Cuailnge (London and New York: Oxford UP, 1970). The standard editions are by Cecile O’Rahilly, ed. and trans., Táin Bó Cúailnge, Recension I (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1976); and idem, ed. and trans., Táin Bó Cúalnge from the Book of Leinster (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1967).
34 See note 1. See also Lapidge and Sharpe 93-6 §§ 325-38.
35 Herren 78-81 lines 205-09.
36 Herren 80-81 lines 212-14.
37 Herren 84-5 lines 271-4.
38 Herren 34-5.
39 Herren 80-81 lines 229-31.
40 Herren 84-5 lines 276-9.
41 Herren 90-91 lines 338-41.
42 Herren 84-5 lines 262-4.
43 Herren 104-07 lines 513-30.
44 James Carney, “A maccucáin, sruith in tíag,” Celtica 15 (1983): 25-41.
45 Herren 106-07 line 544.
46 For an illustration of one of these tablets, see Timothy O’Neill, The Irish Hand, Scribes and their Manuscripts from the Earliest Times (Portlaoise: Dolmen Press, 1984) 57. See also, Nancy Edwards, The Archaeology of Early Medieval Ireland (London: B. T. Batsford, 1990) 148.
47 Herren 108-09 lines 547-60.
48 Edwards 122-4.
49 Herren 164 for discussion.
50 Edwards 22-7.
51 Herren 82-3 lines 259-61.
52 Herren 88-9 lines 326-7.
53 A. T. Lucas, “Washing and Bathing in Ancient Ireland,” Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 95 (1965): 65-114.
54 To appreciate how a body of literature can accrue to the reputation of a great saint such as Columba, see James F. Kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland: Ecclesiastical, an Introduction and Guide (1929; Dublin: Pádraic Ó Táilliúir, 1979) 264-5 § 91, 422-42 esp. pp. 436-40 § 220.
55 Alan Orr Anderson and Marjorie Ogilvie Anderson, ed. and trans., Adomnan’s Life of Columba, rev. ed., (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). Lapidge and Sharpe 86 § 305.
56 For an overview, see Pierre Riché, Education and Culture in the Barbarian West, trans. John J. Contreni (Columbia: U. of S. Carolina Press, 1976) 324-36.
57 Walker, Sancti Columbani Opera. Lapidge and Sharpe 165-8 §§ 639-42. The attribution of several poems to Columbanus is no longer accepted.
58 Kenney 203-5 § 48; Walker ix-xxxiv.
59 Kenney 206-8 § 50.
60 Lapidge and Herren 149, 167. Lapidge and Sharpe 168 § 643.
61 Kenney 500-510, esp. 501-03 § 296.
62 Kenney 511-13.
63 Kenney 523-6. For writings by Virgil, see Lapidge and Sharpe 169-70 § 647.
64 Kenney 545-8. See also Lapidge and Sharpe 174-5 §§ 660-64.
65 J. J. Tierney, ed. and trans., Dicuili Liber de Mensura Orbis Terrae, Scriptores Latini Hiberniae VI (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1967).
66 Kenney 553-5.
67 Kenney 564-5 § 372. See also Lapidge and Sharpe 177-80 §§ 672-86.
68 Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philoshopy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1945) 400. For a more recent assessment, see Dermot Moran, “Nature, Man and God in the Philosophy of John Scottus Eriugena,” in The Irish Mind, Exploring Intellectual Traditions, ed. Richard Kearny (Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1985) 91-106.
69 Kenney 575-7 § 381.
70 Kenney 583-5 § 391. See also Lapidge and Sharpe 183-92 §§ 695-713.