Crisis and recovery: Church and society in 12th century Ireland

The County Tipperary Historical Society is co-hosting a conference to mark the 900th Anniversary of the Synod of Ráith Bressail (1111), a momentous event in Irish history, and perhaps the most important event in Irish Diocesan history.

The County Tipperary Historical Society is co-hosting a conference to mark the 900th Anniversary of the Synod of Ráith Bressail (1111), a momentous event in Irish history, and perhaps the most important event in Irish Diocesan history.

This conference is being held at University College Cork and St Patrick’s College, Thurles, from November 11 to 13. The Tipperary part of the congress is being co-ordinating C.T.S. chairman Richard O’Brien, Dualla Road, Cashel.

The conference will commence on Friday, November 11, with a reception in UCC, at 6.30pm. This occasion will see the launch of Professor Emeritus Pádraig Ó Riain’s book, “A Dictionary of Irish Saints”, by Dr Colmán Ó Clabaigh OSB, Glenstal Abbey. The conference opening lecture at 7.30pm will be given by Professor Emeritus John Gillingham, Department of International History, London School of Economics, “War and the enslavement of women and children in medieval Europe (including Ireland)” – a topic surely to elicit much discussion.

Professor Marie Therese Flanagan, School of History and Anthropology, Queen’s University Belfast will commence day two of the conference at 9.30am with the Keynote Lecture “The synod of Ráith Bressail and Gilbert of Limerick”. Dr Bernadette Cunningham, Royal Irish Academy will follow with “How reliable is Keating’s account of the synod of Ráith Bressail?” a topic surely to be of great interest to Tipperary people. After a short break Dr Damian Bracken, School of History, UCC will lecture on “Crisis — what crisis? Irish biblical learning and the Gospels of Maelbrigde”. The final lecture before lunch will be given by Dr Tomás Ó Carragáin, Department of Archaeology, UCC, on “Architecture, ritual, and reform around the time of Ráith Bressail”.

After lunch Dr Diarmuid Ó Riain will lecture on a more European theme on “The other 900th anniversary: the consecration of the Schottenkloster in Regensburg – Munster and Germany in the twelfth century”. The final lecture in Cork by Dr Griffin Murray, Kerry County Museum is on “The Holycross plaque: Turlough O’Connor, Cashel, and a relic of the True Cross”. This lecture is surely to be evocative considering the recent high profile theft of the relic from Holycross Abbey.

After a break of a few hours to allow delegates travel from Cork the conference resumes in St Patrick’s College, Thurles at 7pm, where there will be a reception, sponsored by County Tipperary Historical Society, Thurles Lions Club, and Thurles Credit Union.

Following this the President of St Patrick’s College Fr. Tom Fogarty will address the audience before Mr. John Gillis, Trinity College Dublin will talk on “The Faddanmore Psalter, Treasure from the bog: recovery and conservation of an eighth-century manuscript.” This undoubtedly will be a very popular lecture and should not be missed.

On Sunday morning, November 13, the concluding day of the conference will commence with registration in St Patrick’s College at 9.30am, followed by the Keynote Lecture at 10am by Professor Emeritus Pádraig Ó Riain, Department of Old and Medieval Irish, UCC, “A recipe for discord: the setting up of the diocesan boundaries”. Professor Ó Riain is the acknowledged expert on medieval boundaries having researched and published on the topic for over thirty years. This is followed by Mr. Richard O’Brien, Archaeologist, National Roads Authority, who will talk on “Tipperary in the year 1111 – an archaeology”. This will inform the audience of all the latest archaeological discoveries pertaining to the twelfth century. After a short break we are delighted to have Bishop Michael Burrows, Bishop of Cashel and Ossory talk on “Ráith Bressail and the present”. Archaeologist Micheál Ó Droma, Wolfhound Archaeology, will next talk on “Recent archaeological discoveries in the archbishop’s lands – excavations in Twomileborris, Co Tipperary.”

Following lunch Dr Paul MacCotter, School of History U.C.C. will lecture on “Bishops, boundaries and the so-called twelfth century “reforms” Dr Kevin Murray and Dr Dagmar Ó Riain-Raedel, University College Cork, will next talk on “Tipperary vs. Cork: the location of Ráith Bressail:” ‘in memoriam’ of Dr. Diarmuid Ó Murchadha, who sadly passed away this year. Amongst other publications Dr. Ó Murchadha had published in the County Tipperary Historical Journal on the location of Ráith Bressail being near Drom.

The concluding talk will be delivered by President of the County Tipperary Historical Society Fr Christy O’Dwyer, Archdiocese of Cashel, who will discuss “Pobal Ailbe – Diocesan history and development”. The conference ends with a guided tour of the Diocesan Library at 4.15pm, a unique opportunity to view the wonderful book collection of St Patrick’s College.

The cost of the conference is E40 (students and unwaged E30). This covers admission to all lectures in UCC and Thurles, both receptions coffee/tea breaks and lunch at Thurles on Sunday. Conference registration at UCC only costs E25 (students and unwaged E20). Conference registration at Thurles only costs E25 (students and unwaged E20). The Saturday night lecture and reception in Thurles only costs E5. For further information see http:/

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