CHAPTER VII. RELIGION IN IRELAND DURING THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY

Nor could it be said that the Irish people at this period were entirely rude and uncultured. Though most of their great schools had gone down, and though the attempts at founding a university had failed, learning had certainly not disappeared from the country. Clerics and laymen could still obtain facilities for education at the religious houses, the cathedral and collegiate churches, at the schools of Irish law and poetry, and from some of the learned teachers whose names are recorded in our Annals during this period. Many of the clerics, at least, frequented the English universities or the universities on the Continent. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries one can point to several distinguished Irish scholars such as O'Fihely, the Archbishop of Tuam, who was recognised as one of the leading theological writers of his day, Cathal Maguire the author of the Annals of Ulster, Bishop Colby of Waterford, the author of several commentaries on Sacred Scripture, the well-known Carmelite preacher and writer Thomas Scrope, Patrick Cullen Bishop of Clogher, and his arch-deacon Roderick O'Cassidy, and Philip Norris, the determined opponent of the Mendicants, and the Dominicans John Barley, Joannes Hibernicus, and Richard Winchelsey.[30] The catalogue of the books contained in the library of the Franciscan convent at Youghal about the end of the fifteenth century affords some indication of the attitude of the monastic bodies generally towards education and learning. In addition to the missals, psalteries, antiphonies, and martyrologies, the convent at Youghal had several copies of the Bible together with some of the principal commentaries thereon, collections of sermons by well-known authors, several of the works of the early Fathers and of the principal theologians of the Middle Ages, the Decrees of Gratian, the Decretals and various works on Canon Law, spiritual reading-books, including the life of Christ, and works on ascetic theology, the works of Boetius and various treatises on philosophy, grammar, and music, and some histories of the Irish province of the Franciscans.[31]

Similarly the library of the Earl of Kildare about 1534 contained over twenty books in Irish, thirty-four works in Latin, twenty-two in English and thirty-six in French,[32] while the fact that Manus O'Donnell, Prince of Tyrconnell, could find time to compose a Life of St. Columba in 1532, and that at a still later period Shane O'Neill could carry on his correspondence with foreigners in elegant Latin bears testimony to the fact that at this period learning was not confined to the Pale. Again it should be remembered that it was between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries that the great Irish collections such as the Book of Lecan, the Book of Ballymote, the Leabhar Breac, the Book of Lismore, etc., were compiled, and that it was about the same time many of the more important Irish Annals were compiled or completed, as were also translations of well-known Latin, French, and English works.[33] - - - - -

[1] Hardiman, A Statute of the 40th Year of Edw. III., p. 4.

[2] State Papers, Henry VIII., vol. ii., pp. 1-31 ('State of Ireland 
    and plan for its Reformation
).

[3] Hardiman, op. cit., pp. 46-54.

[4] Theiner, Vetera Monumenta Hibernorum, etc., pp. 16, 23.

[5] Calendar Pap. Documents, an. 1254.

[6] Hardiman, op. cit., pp. 47-9.

[7] De Burgo, Hibernia Dominicana, p. 75.

[8] State Papers Henry VIII., xiv., no. 1021.

[9] Mason, The History and Antiquities of ... St. Patrick's, Dublin, 
    1820, p. xviii.

[10] De Annatis Hiberniae, vol. i., 1912; vol. ii. (app. ii. 
    Archive Hib. vol. ii.).

[11] Theiner, op. cit., 487-8.

[12] Wilkins, Concilia, ii., an. 1172.

[13] Carrigan, History of Ossory, i., 45-57.

[14] Theiner, op. cit., 261.

[15] Theiner, op. cit., 371. De Burgo, Hib. Dom. 68.

[16] Irish Theol. Quarterly, ii., 203-19.

[17] Capes, History of the English Church in the Fourteenth and 
    Fifteenth Centuries
, 1909, p. 222.

[18] Brady, Episcopal Succession (see various dioceses mentioned).

[19] Ninth Report of Commission on Hist. MSS., pt. ii., 278.

[20] Archiv. Hibernicum, vol. i., 39-45.

[21] Id., app. ii., 40.

[22] Archiv. Hibernicum, app. ii., 6.