Prosopographica Glindelachensis: The Monastic Church of Glendalough and its Community Sixth to Thirteenth Centuries (Part 1 - published in 1989)

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Courtesy of the RSAI

Original article published in: The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 119 (1989), pp. 79-97.


The monastic civitas of Glendalough evolved from the small ascetic community in the upper valley, the foundation of which is traditionally ascribed to St Coemgen (or Kevin).

In the centuries following the patron’s death, the focus of settlement gradually shifted towards the more hospitable lower valley (Price 1940, 252ff, 264, 268-71; Price 1945-67, i, 38-48; cf Barrow 1972, 12-20 where an east-west progression of settlement is argued). Once established near the lower lake, the monastic complex continued to be augmented by further foundations up to the twelfth century, continuing as an ecclesiastical and commercial centre into the fourteenth century (Gwynn and Hadcock 1970, 80-1; Barrow 1972, 47; Manning 1984, 344, 346). As noted in regard to certain other major monastic settlements, development from ceremonial complex towards a proto-urban stage with lay population and a thriving economy made the abbacy of such churches seem an attractive prize to aspiring dynasties (Doherty 1985, 64-8). The earliest evidence of direct political intervention at Glendalough relates to an apparent intrusion by the Uí Máil king Cellach mac Gerrthide in the early eighth century. The abbatial record for the ninth and tenth centuries includes several members of the South-Wicklow Uí Enechglaiss, along with an occcasional dual-abbot from Tallaght or Clonmacnois. The occurrence of these latter may represent an attempt by the community to avoid political domination through association with an outside independent house. By the eleventh century, the Ui Muiredaig dynasty of North Leinster were striving to manipulate the affairs of the monastery. In 1031, they blinded the then abbot, Cathasach Ua Cathail, who belonged to a local kindred of Uí Mail descent. From 1106, Uí Muiredaig increasingly dominated the abbacy at the expense of Uí Cathail. The former dynasty, whose most distinguished ecclesiastic was Lorcán Ua Tuathail (St Laurence, d. 1180), retained a hold on the abbacy into the second third of the thirteenth century, by which time the abbacy had been superseded by an Augustinian priorate subject to the Church of the Holy Trinity, Dublin. The aim of the present paper is to provide a comprehensive catalogue of all recorded members of the monastic community from its foundation until the mid-thirteenth century.


A1. Coemgen

The death of Coemgen is recorded for the year 618 (AU 617, CS 618, ATig [618], AFM 617, ARosc f107, AClon 614) and is also entered for 622 (AU 621, CS 622, ATig [622], Cott. f201). His feastday at 3 June is commemorated in all the Irish martyrologies, MO, MT, MG, MD, MCC, along with the calendar of MDrumm. It is also found in the calendar of the Carlsruhe Bede, Codex Augiensis, no. 167, f17a (TP ii, 283) and in the MEng, 88. Coemgen features prominently in the Litany of Irish Saints (hereafter Litany I), where a section commences ‘cethracha do naemaib i nGlinn da Loch im Chaemgen nUasal sacart . . .’ (LL 373b, 1698; Ui M 53d etc – Ir Lit, 54). The invocation ‘Sancte Coemgeni ora pro nobis’ occurs in the Stowe Missal (RIA, D ii 3: 28a; Stowe ii, 14,16). Broccan’s hymn Ni car Brigit (11. 36-40) compares the hardship of his patroness’s life to that of the ascetic Coemgen (LibH, i, 115; ii, 41; TP ii, 331-2). Coemgen is listed in the tract De Sacerdotibus (LL 365g, 1654; CGSH, 136; TP ii, 284 – from Stowe Missal f31a). He is included among the saints of the second order (Salm., 82) and in the tract ‘Sancti qui erant Bini Unius Moris’ (LL 370cb, 1682; CGSH, 161). Coemgen’s lineage is invariably traced to Dal Messin Corb, a ruling kindred of the Laigin in proto-historic times. He is described as a son of Coemlug (LL 350a, 1554; Ui M. 52vb; BB 220a; Lee. 43ra, 50vb; LB 17d; Laud 610. 270 – see CGSH, 31), who in turn is descended from Fergus Laebderg (LL 351e, 1565; Ui M 51vc, 51vg; BB 221g; Lee. 44ra; LB 19cd; Rawl B.502. 51vh etc – CGSH, 42) and ultimately from Eochaid Laimderg, a son of Mes Corb (Lee. 163h, 163c; Laud 610. 35 – see CGSH, 66, 74; GRSH, 86, cap. 20.12). Mella, mother of St Abban and Caeltigern, mother of the sons of Colmad are alleged to have been sisters of Coemgen (LL 352a, 372c, 373a – 1570, 1694, 1697), while Caeman of Enach Truim is allegedly a brother (BB 229f; Lee. 49va – see CGSH, 97; GRSH, 86, cap. 20.12). The tract De Matris gives the name of Coemgen’s mother as Coemell, daughter of Cenfinnan (LL 372a, 1692; Ui M. 54vab; BB 212b; Lee. 34rb, see CGSH, 172). Five Latin and Irish versions of the Life of Coemgen are extant (VSH i, 234-57; Salm., 261-5; BNE i, [1] 125-30, [2] 131-54, [3] 155-67; see Kenney 1929, 403-4). In addition, Coemgen is mentioned in the Lives of several other saints: his birth is prophesied in the Vita of Abban (VSH i, 4, ϸ2; Salm., 256, ϸ1); the tradition of his education is reiterated in the Life of Eogan (Salm., 401, ϸ3; cf LBS. iv, 95-6, where a Medieval Life of Petroc son of Glywys makes the latter a fellow student of Coemgen at Cell na Manach; cf Vita Coemgeni, VSH i, 235, ϸ4); the Life of Ciaran of Clonmacnois reflects an agreement with Coemgen, where the latter is presented with a bell by Ciaran, perhaps signifying a tuarastal (VSH i, 215, ϸ2; LSS, 132-3, ϸ39); the Life of Berach represents the latter as a disciple of Coemgen (VSH i, 77-9, ϸϸ6, 9, 11; BNE i, 27, 28-32, ϸϸ24, 29-45, where Berach is accorded a prominent role in rearing Coemgen’s foster son, Prince Faelan Mac Colmain; cf VSH i, 250-2, ϸϸ31-7); the Medieval Life of Monenna by Conchubranus has Coemgen reacting angrily to the abbess’s grant of Sliab Fuait to Glunsalach (LMC., 266-8, i  ϸϸ10-12; cf Kenney 1929,369); finally the Vita Moling contains the curious tradition that the latter succeeded ‘ad sedem . . . Sancti Coemgeni’ (VSH ii, 192, ϸ6). At the end of the Missale Drummondiense an alleged dialogue between Coemgen and Ciaran of Saigir is noted (Kenney 1929, 706). Prior to the foundation of his principal church at Glendalough, Coemgen is credited with having established a cell at Cluain Duach (perhaps Td. Dunboyke, Par. Holywood, see Price 1945-67, iv, 208; VSH i, 240, ϸ12). Moreover, local tradition associates him with a number of ecclesiastical sites in county Wicklow, and in adjacent parts of counties Dublin and Kildare. The relics of St Coemgen were taken on circuit in 790 (AU 789) along with those of St Mochua of Clondalkin. The latter may indeed be the venerable Cronan in Fortuatha (sic: leg. Fothairt [Airthir Liphi]?) to whom the infant Coemgen was brought for baptism (V.H.S. i, 234, ϸ1) and who is counted in Litany I among the Familia Coemgeni (LL 373b, 1698; IrLit, 64). Professor Byrne considers that a substantial stratum of Glendalough data in the Book of Leinster, including this litany, is derived from a lost ‘Liber Confraternitatis Coemgeni’ (1980, 123).

A2. Mo Chonnoc

The tract Comainmnigud Noem hErenn (LL 368b, 1668; BB 227f; Lee. 48rd; Rawl B 502. 92a; see CGSH, 149) refers to Mo Chuanoc (sic) Glinni da Locha, a name which 6 Riain equates with Mo Chonoc (CGSH, 257-8 [index]). In the same tract there is reference to Mo Chonoc Gailinne, another cleric included among the familia of Coemgen in Litany I, perhaps reflecting the subsequent absorption of Gallen (a parish in By Garrycastle, county Offaly) into the paruchia of Glendalough (LL 373b, 1699; IrLit, 56). According to De Matris (LL 373d, 1696), this Mo Chonoc and Mogorroc of Dergne (Delgany) were sons of Dina, daughter of a Saxon king and Brachan, king of Brychyniog (cf LBS ii, 169-70; Price 1945-67 V, 323-4, regarding the British traditions of Conoc or Mo Chanoc as founder of Broconnoc in Cornwall or as nephew of St David). The separate record of Efpscop] Mo Chonoc in the tract Nomina Episcoporum and of S. Condoc in De Sacerdotibus (LL 365e, 366b, 1650, 1655; CGSH, 135, 137) increases the likelihood that the Glendalough and Gallen clerics were different individuals. The feastday of a Mo Chonoc is noted at 19 December, MD, but the identity of the saint in question is unclear. It is significant that folk tradition in the Parish of Kilmacanogue [Cill Mo Chonoc], county Wicklow, relates how the local patron went to visit St Coemgen when the latter was ill and never returned. A version of this story was collected in 1938 by T. 6 Sioda from Denis Doyle, an elderly resident of the parish (Ldmhscribhinni na Scol vol. 946, 57-8. Consulted by permission of An Roinn Bealoideasa, UCD).

A3. Colman Cerbb

The obit of Colman, accorded the soubriquet Cerbb in AI, is recorded at 660 (AU 659, CS 656, ATig [660], AI 657, AFM 659, A Rose f.159, AClon 656). His feastday is noted at 12 December MG, MD, although the Four Masters mis-copy the date as 2 Dec. Titled epscop in the Annals, Colman was probably head of the community (Byrne 1984, 312; see below B6).

A4. Dairchell moccu Riatai

Dairchell, whose tribal name is treated as a patronymic in most of the annals [Mac Curetai etc, most faithfully reproduced in ATig as Mac hUi Rite], died in 678 (AU 677, CS 674, ATig [678], AFM 676, A Rose f.143, AClon 674). His feastday is commemorated at 3 May (MT, MG, MD). Dairchell Ab is included among the familia of Coemgen in Litany I (LL 373b, 1699; IrLit, 56), however all the annals entitle him epscop (see below B7).

A5. Do-Chuma Chonóc

Another whose name lends itself to garbled forms by later scribes (the obit in ATig reads ‘Quies do Chumaighanocc . . .’), Do-Chuma Chonoc died in 687 (AU 686, CS 683, ATig [687], AFM 685, A Rose f.148, Fr A [687]). The tract Comhainmnigud Noem hErenn (LL 368b, 1669; CGSH, 149) lists thirty-two saints named Mo-Chuma, several of whom, including Mo Chumae Chonoc, bear soubriquets which are clearly formed from the adjectival use of personal names. Presumably this man was a disciple of the earlier Mo Chonoc (see above A2).

A6. Dubguala

The obit of Dubguala is recorded for 712 (AU 711, CS 708, ATig [712], AFM 710). The formula ‘periit’ (AU and ATig) suggests that his end may have been violent. The career of Dubguala provides the first clear evidence of politicisation of the abbacy. The Irish Life of Adamnan relates how the latter, when called upon to intervene in a dispute between Kildare and Glendalough over the church of Telach Bregmann [Bregmon, county Laois], encountered Dubguala and his political master, Cellach mac Gerthide, the Ui Mail king of Leinster. Offended by the manners of the Glendalough delegation and by the worldly attitude of their abbot, Adamnan found that a verdict in favour of Kildare was the only option (B Adam, ?6).

A7. Encorach Ua Dodain

The obit of Encorach is recorded for 769 (AU 768, AFM 764). It is preceded by an apparent lapse of fifty-seven years in the abbatial record. However, it is possible that some of the undated bishops or other clerics associated with the monastery may have held the position of abbot during the intervening period (see below esp. B3-5, E2, 3).

A8. Maelcombair

This abbot died in 790 (AU 789, AFM 781, AClon 783). The Four Masters separately record the obit of Maelconchubhair (sic) four years later (AFM 785) but this is almost certainly an error.

A9. Ceithernach

The obit of Ceithernach is recorded for 799 (AU 798) along with that of Siadhal Ua Commain of Cell Achaid. The Four Masters record the obit of Siadhal of Cinn Lacha (sic), which suggests omission of Ceithernach’s record due to homoeoteleuton.

A10. Mimtenach

Mimtenach died in 800 (AU 799, AFM 795, Al 800) after a brief tenure of office. In AU he is included in a ‘group obituary’, terminating with the formula ‘perierunt’. However, a violent end for Mimtenach is not suggested by the other annals.

A11. Aed

The obit of Aed is entered for 809 (CS 809, AFM 804).

A12. Echtbrann

Echtbrann died the same year (Al [only] 809). The sequence here is uncertain.

A13. Guaire

The obit of Guaire is recorded for the following year (AU 809, CS 810, AFM 805, AClon 807).

A14. Etirscel mac Cellaig

Etirscel died in 814 (AU 813, CS 814, AFM 809). His personal name and his father’s name both occur in the Ui Mail genealogies, especially among Ui Chellaig Chualann (LL 316c, 1360; Lee. 95rc; Rawl B 502. 125a – CGH, 77). He was a bishop-abbot (see below B8).

A15. Suibne mac Iosep

This abbot died in 836 (AU 835, CS 836, AFM 835). His father may have belonged to an ecclesiastical family, as names  honouring saints of the Roman Church rarely occur in early Irish secular society.

A16. Suibne Ua Teimnen

The obit of Suibne, who died in 842, is found only in AFM (at 841). The family of Huf Theimneain were a branch of Ui Enechglaiss, who traced their origin to Ernmal, a son of Bresal Enechglas (LL 315b, 1352; Lee. 90va; BB 131a; Rawl B 502. 123f – CGH, 67).

A17. Dainiel

Dainiel died in 868 (AU 867, CS 868, AFM 866, AClon 866). He held the abbacy in conjunction with that of Tallaght (AU, AFM), the first dual abbot in the Glendalough record. It may be significant that the rather rare personal name Dainiel is found in the genealogy of Ui Chellaig Chualann (Rawl B 502. 125a; Lee. 95rc – CGH, 77).

A18. Fechtnach

The obit of Fechtnach is recorded for 875 (AU 874, AFM 873).

A19. Dungal mac Baeitine

The bishop-abbot Dungal (he is styled episcopus princeps in AU, see below B9) died in 904 (AU 903, CS 904, AFM 899) at an advanced age. It may be significant that the name Baeithin occurs at least twice in the early generations of Ui Enechglaiss (LL 315bb, 315bc, 1352; BB 131a; Lee. 90vb; Rawl B 502. 123f – CGH, 67-8). It so happens that this Arklow-based dynasty was, by the tenth century, contesting the kingship of Fortuatha Laigen with Ui Garrchon, the ruling kindred of Dal Messin Corb,

A20. Corbmac mac Fitbrain

Another bishop-abbot (see below, B10), Corbmac died in 927 (AU 926, AFM 925). He is titled airchinnech in AU, the first cleric so recorded for Glendalough.

A21. Flann Ua Anaile

The obit of Flann, entitled airchinnech and acclaimed as 4cend ordain an coiccid’ is recorded for 950 (AFM 948). He was presumably grandson of the vice-abbot Anaile who died in 885 (see below, CI). It may be noted that the rare personal name Andail [or Anandail] occurs in the genealogy of Ui Fergusa (LL317b, 1364; BB 137b; Lee. 94vb -CGH, 351-2).

A22. Ferdomnach Ua Maenaig?

Ferdomnach, who died in 952 (AU 951, AFM 950), is recorded in AU simply as ‘comarba Ciarain’. The Four Masters, who are clearly relaying information from a lost Glendalough source (see A16, 21, 24, 27, 30, 31; CI; D2, 3; E8, 9), say he was also abbot of Glendalough and give his kindred as Corca Mocchae. Indeed, the occurrence of such a dual abbacy may be the historical reality behind the alleged agreement between Ciaran and Coemgen related in their respective lives (see above, Al ). It is possible that protection may have been sought from Clonmacnois by the community of Glendalough in an effort to break the hold of political interests from closer quarters (See also below, A30).

A23. Flann Ua hAedacain

This man’s obit is entered for 957 (AU 956, CS 956, AFM 955). The three sets of annals title him airchinnech, comarba and abb, respectively.

A24. Martan

Martan died in 959 (AU 958, AFM 957). The Four Masters, who describe him as an anchorite, add that Martan was also coarb of Maelruain. This is at least the second time the abbacies of Glendalough and Tallaght were united (see above A17).

A25. Crundmael

The obit of Crundmael is recorded for 972 (AU 971, AFM 970). He is titled airchinnech in AU. It may be relevant that his personal name is commonly found in south Leinster, especially Ui Cennselaig, genealogies.

A26. Ailill mac ind Laignig

Ailill died in 973 (AU 972, CS 971, AFM 971), apparently after a short tenure of office.

A27. Coirpre Ua Corra

The obit of Coirpre, another short-term abbot, is recorded for 974 only in AFM (at 972).

A28. Dunchad Ua Manchain

This abbot died in 1003 (AU 1002, CS 1001, AFM 1002, Al 1003). He may, if he succeeded Coirpre directly, have held office for the rather lengthy period of twenty-nine years (equalled only by Dungal mac Baeithine and exceeded only by Thomas – above, A19 and below, A41). Dunchad may have belonged to Sil Manchain, situated ‘la Hu Cellaig do Huib Briuin doib’, hence a branch of Ui Bairrche (LL 313bb, cb, 1341; BB 126a, b; Lee. 87vc, 88ra; Rawl B 502. 121b, bb – CGH, 47, 49). Note also Ui Manchain among the forsluinte of Ui Labrada (LL 312c, 1335; BB 123b; Lec.86ra; Rawl B 502. 121b – CGH, 47). However, identification with Ui Bairrche accords better with the transmission of Glendalough data to the Book of Leinster ( see above, Al). The kindred earlier supplied a lector and an anchorite, later a bishop (?) and another abbot (see D3, E9, B12, A34).

A29. Conn Ua Duigraid

The abbot Conn died in 1014 (AU 1013, CS 1012, AFM 1013, Al 1014).

A30. Flann Ua Cellaig

Flann, whose obit is noted only in AFM at 1030, died on pilgrimage in Clonmacnois. It is interesting to note that Ui Cellaig, a segment of Ui Bairrche Maige Ailbhe (LL 316a, 1356; BB 132b; Lee. 91rb – CGH, 340) lived adjacent to Sil Manchain (LL 313cb, 1341; Lee. 88ra; Rawl B 502.121bb – CGH, 49). The possibility remains, however, that he may have belonged to the better known Ui Cellaig Cualann or to Clann Cellaig of Ui Fergusso (CGH, 76-7, 352).

A31. Conaincc Ua Cerbaill

The obit of Conaincc, titled airchinnech and acclaimed as ‘ceann crabaid na nGaoidel’ is recorded only in AFM at 1031. The description of Conaincc as ‘head of piety’, combined with a short tenure of office, may suggest a venerable cleric chosen as a compromise candidate to appease rival factions.

A32. Cathasach Ua Cathail

This man was blinded in 1031, apparently within a short time of attaining office (AU 1031; CS 1029; AFM 1031). The Four Masters mistakenly call him ‘comarba Fingin’. In the other annals, where he is correctly titled, his attacker is named as Domnall mac Dunlainge, identifiable as King of Ui Muiredaig. This is the first clear indication of intervention by that dynasty in the abbatial succession of Glendalough. However, this attempt to depose the abbot would seem to have been unsuccessful. In his obit at 1045, Cathasach is described in all the annals as ‘Comarba Coemgin’ (AU 1045: AFM 1045; AClon 1045). There is no suggestion of retirement (hence he is most likely successor, rather than predecessor of A31 above). Moreover, AU adds that he died in pace. Cathasach probably belonged to the Ui Mail segment of Ua Cathail (Rawl B 502. 125a; Lee. 95rc – CGH, 76). The earlier anchorite, Coirpre (below, E10), may have belonged to this kin-group and certainly Ui Cathail supplied three later abbots (below, A35, 37, 38). This family may have been the source of the strong pro-Ui Mail bias presented in the Irish Lives of Coemgen (BNE, i [1] 127 ?15-19; [2] 137-40 ?6-8: [3] 153-5 ?8-15).

A33. Cinaed Mac Muiredaig

Cinaed died in 1068 (AU 1068; AFM 1068). The formula ‘ad Christum migravit’ (AU) suggests that his end was peaceful. His father’s name, Muiredach, was well established among all the Leinster kindreds, including Ui Dunlainge (especially the Ui Muiredaig segment) and Ui Enechglaiss.

A34. Ua Manchain

This abbot, styled ‘An Bretem’ in the annals, died of a plague which swept across Europe in 1095 (AI 1095; AFM 1095; A. Clon 1094). His kindred supplied at least four clerics to Glendalough (see above A28).

A35. Tuathal Ua Cathail

Tuathal, related to the above-mentioned Ui Mail segment (see above A32), died peacefully in 1106 (AU 1106; AI 1106; AFM 1106). The entry in AI adds that he was a priest and a lector (see also D4). Two marginal notes in a copy of De Abaco of Gerbert of Aurillac may refer to this abbot. The first reads ‘we are here in Glendalough on the day of Pentecost [13 May 1106]. It is a pity that Tuathal is ailing.’ Subsequently we find ‘ever more of a pity that he died last night and will be buried presently.’ (F 16 Egerton 3323 British Mus.; see Henry and Marsh-Micheli 1962, 120).

A36. Gillacomgaill Ua Tuathail

The first clear case of an Ua Tuathail dynast occupying the abbacy (see below A39, 41, 42), Gillacomgaill was the grandfather of Lorcan (or St Laurence). It is interesting to note that the mother of Gillacomgaill and his brother Gilla Caemgin was Sadb, a daughter of the Ui Cennselaig king Mael Morda Ua Domnaill (Bansh., 195). Gillacomgaill was slain in 1127 by ‘na Fortuathaib’ (recorded in AFM only). It is not clear whether Gillacomgaill’s killers were Ui Garrchon or Ui Enechglaiss. His descent is recorded in the genealogies (LL 337d, 1480; BB 138a; Rawl B 502. 117c – CGH, 12), where the title ‘comarba Coemgin’ ia added.

A37. Gillapattraic Ua Cathail

Another member of the Ui Mail ecclesiastical family, Gillapattraic was slain the following year at Glendalough (AU 1128; AFM 1128). It is clear from AU that he was a son of the earlier abbot Tuathal (above, A35) and that his killers were Ui Muiredaig.

A38. Dunlang Ua Cathail

Dunlang would appear to have succeeded his kinsman and to have enjoyed a twenty-five year term of office. Political frictions having led to the deaths of two abbots in less than two years, it may have been agreed to let rivalries be for a time! Dunlang died in 1153 (AFM only). He is clearly the abbot whose death created the vacancy for Lorcan (St Laurence) when the latter was aged twenty-five (VL, 132, ϸ5).

A39. Lorcan Ua Tuathail

A son of Muirchertach, king of Ui Muiredaig (VL, 128,ϸ 1; LL 337d, 1480), Lorcan (St Laurence) entered Glendalough at an early age, having previously been held hostage by Diarmait Mac Murchada, king of Leinster. As a youth, Lorcan was greatly influenced by a bishop who, although unnamed in the Vita, may possibly be identified with An tEspoc Ua Noidenain (see below, B17). When the bishop died, at a date prior to 1153, Lorcan grieved the loss of his ‘spiritual father’ (VL, 130-2, ϸϸ3, 4). Having succeeded to the abbacy at the age of twenty-five, Lorcan declined to accept the bishopric of Glendalough when it fell vacant four years later. The stated reason that he had not reached the canonical age of thirty (VL, 135, ϸ7) does not dispel the suspicion of political motivation behind Lorcan’s career decisions (Roche 1979, 8-9). He accepted the more valuable prize of the Archbishopric of Dublin in 1162 (VL, 137, ϸ7; AFM 1162, Grace’s Annals 1162). His subsequent endeavours as archbishop and as Papal Legate are outside the scope of the present paper. However, Lorcan continued to have certain dealings with Glendalough. At some date subsequent to 1162, he granted the territory of Tir Meccei to the convent of Disert Coemgin (AR, 8, ff.95b[l], 253[2]; CM, 55-6, cap. 61). Along with his immediate successor at Glendalough, Edenigmus, he witnessed Diarmait Mac Murchada’s grant to All Hallows ante 1166 (RPOS, 51, f.44d). About six years later, he witnessed Earl Richard’s confirmation of the Abbey and Personatus of Glendalough to Thomas (AR, 2, ff.21b[l], 92[2]; CM, 46-7, cap. 44). With the support of Thomas, Lorcan witnessed a grant to the Church of the Holy Trinity and bestowed a grant of his own c. 1176-78 (Reg. Nov. 258, 280). He received a grant of the territory of Credmochae from Thomas (AR, 9, ff.92[l], 244[2]). Having survived an attempt on his life at Canterbury in 1175 (see Plummer, VL, 125, n.7), Lorcan died at Eu in Normandy in 1180 (Al 1181 bis; AFM [wrong location] 1180; Cott. f.366; Grace’s Annals 1180). His Life gives the date as 14 November (VL, 155, ϸ26).

A40. ‘Edenigmus’

This abbot succeeded Lorcan after the latter’s elevation to the archbishopric in 1162. In the year that followed, the record suggests some upheaval at Glendalough. Cro Coemgin, Cro Ciarain and the Church of the two Sinchells were burned, though no agent is named (AFM 1163; ATig [1163]). The Vita Laurentii outlines how King Diarmait, following Lorcan’s departure for Dublin, ‘quemdam clericum successorem eius violenter constituit et . . . eumdem irreverenter intrusit’. However, the Life may not be correct in ascribing any intrusion, if such took place, to Diarmait. There would seem to have been little reason for the latter to forcibly impose an outsider at this time. Since making peace with Muirchertach, king of Ui Muiredaig, Diarmait had married the former’s daughter, Mor (LL 337d, 1480). As brother-in-law to Lorcan and uncle by marriage to Thomas, Diarmait was instrumental in securing promotion to Dublin for one (Roche 1979, 10,19) and, indeed, subsequently conferred the abbacy of Glendalough on the other (see below, A41). It may be noted that in 1166 Lorcan and his successor, named as ‘Edenigmus’, were co-signatories to Diarmait’s grant to All Hallows (RPOS,5i, f.44d). It has been argued that the abbot’s name could represent a scribal error for Coemgen[us] or, indeed, Benignus (RPOS, xi; Roche 1979, 13; Gwynn and Hadcock 1970, 81) However, a personal name Eden is attested (Bansh., 228). This may have given rise to a Latin form Edenigmus.

A41. Thomas [Ua Tuathail]

According to the Vita Laurentii, Thomas was a nephew of Lorcan (VL 141,ϸ 10). Thomas’s parentage is not documented. He granted land near Newcastle to the Abbey of St Thomas, Dublin ‘pro salute anime patris mei et matris mee’ (RST, 166-7, 293-4, cap. 198, 240), but does not name them. Aside from the above-mentioned sister, Mor, Lorcan’s brothers included Augaire Rua, Gilla Comgaill and Dunlaing (both kings of Ui Muiredaig in turn), Tuathal, Aed and Conchobar (LL 337d, 1480). There is also mention of a brother Dungal and sisters Gormlaith and Sadb (Bansh., 247-8). Thomas’s devout character is attested by the occurrence that, when travelling with Lorcan and two bishops, his prayers helped to heal a possessed woman (VL 149-50, ϸ21). The same source is anxious to stress that Thomas was chosen as abbot by the clergy and tenants of Glendalough for his own merits and not because of his kin (VL, 141, ϸ10). The abbacy was confirmed to Thomas by a charter of Earl Richard c.1172, which caused Butler to speculate that Thomas may in fact have been a Norman cleric (RPOS, xi, notes e, f, g). However, it is clear that Richard was re-iterating an arrangement made some time earlier by Diarmait, ‘as King Diarmicius testified to Earl Richard on the word of truth’ (AR, 2, ff.21b[l], 92[2]; CM, 46-7, cap.44). The abbacy was subsequently confirmed to Thomas by a charter of Henry II (AR, 16, ff.l8b[l], 85[2]; CM, 38, cap.34). As abbot, Thomas made the already-mentioned grants to Lorcan and to the Abbey of St Thomas. He also granted property to St Marys: the title of the charter was excerpted by Ware but the details are missing (CSM. ii, 3,15). He witnessed, with Lorcan, the already mentioned grants to the Church of the Holy Trinity (above, A39). The possessions of the abbacy were confirmed to Thomas by a charter of John, Lord of Ireland, 11 May 1192 (AR, 21, ff.20b[1], 89[2]) and by a Bull of Innocent III, 22 Dec 1198 (AR, 23-4, ff.3b[1], 52[2]; Pont H i, 99-101, cap. 36). Presumably the need to seek ratification arose from the uncertainty of the diocese’s future following the death of Bishop Macrobius (below, B21). On 30 Oct 1200, King John conceded the possessions of the abbacy to Thomas for life, provided they did not exceed 40 carucates (Charter Rolls John 2 m20, Cal. Doc, 21). A subsequent charter of John 30 July 1213 provided that the possessions of the abbacy, reserved to Thomas for life, be transferred to Archbishop Henry after the abbot’s death or retirement, either of which were clearly viewed as imminent (Chart. Rolls John 15 m3, Cal. Doc, 77). Awareness of this grant may have prompted Archbishop Alen to remark that Thomas was the last abbot (AR, 24; Pont H i, 99, n.l). It seems likely that the latter was married and had at least one son and a grandson. Towards the close of 12th century, Alexander filius abbatis de Glindelache witnessed a grant by Derbforgil, wife of Mac Gillamocholmog, to St Mary’s (CSM i, 31-2, ii 3, f. 166). At some date in the early 13th century., Ricardus Alius Alexandri filii abbatis de Glindelah witnessed the surrender of Balicogan to the Abbey of St Thomas, Dublin (RST, 147, cap. 173).

A42. Tadhc Ua Tuathail

King John’s attempt to dispose of the abbacy of Glendalough apparently met the same resistance as his earlier efforts to abolish the bishopric (see below, B21). At a date subsequent to 1228 and prior to 1255 Tadeus Otothyll, titled Abbot of Glendalough, granted the vill of Cill Moccu Birn (Td. Killickabawn, Par. Kilcoole) and the church of Disert to Archbishop Luke (AR, 76, f.455[2]). It may be noted that the personal name Tadhc occurs in the Ui Muiredaig genealogy (Rawl B 502. 117c; BB. 138a ; CGH, 12). This reference clearly escaped the notice of Archbishop Alen, or he would not have recorded the above-mentioned remark. It is probable that Tadhc had succeeded Thomas c.1215. In any event, record of the abbacy ends with him. By the time of Archbishop Fulk, who took office in 1256, the Monastery of Glendalough had already been replaced by a priory subject to the Church of the Holy Trinity (see below, C6).


Reproduced with the kind permission of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.     

 Original article in: The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 119 (1989), pp. 79-97             

NOTE: Errors may appear in text due to reformatting – original text available in attached pdf.

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