Betha Cholmáin maic Luacháin: an ecclesiastical microcosm of the twelfth-century Irish midlands

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Dillon, Gavin David
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University College Cork
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Betha Cholmáin maic Luacháin (BCh) is a key source of information about a small ecclesiastical community of the Irish midlands in the medieval period. BCh is one of the longest medieval Irish hagiographic texts. A sole copy exists. Scholarly concern with manuscript Rennes 598, and the Life of Colmán therein, diminished following the 1911 edition of BCh. The most attention paid to BCh in the following decades focused largely on its onomastic information. The necessary detailed study of the text has not been undertaken. The present work is an initial view of significant areas of interaction between the church of Lann and its ecclesiastical, social and political milieu. While social and cultural aspects of the text may constitute the focus of this study, linguistic data is also investigated, complementary to evidence regarding its social and political testimony. In this way, light is cast on a complex ecclesiastical microcosm in the twelfth-century Irish midlands. In keeping with recent methodological work in the field a variety of tools are used to aid investigation, and to show the Life within its genre and wider context. An interdisciplinary approach will bring together strands of literary, cultural, archaeological, onomastic, historical, geographical, genealogical and hagiographical information, with reference to linguistic evidence where appropriate. This thesis seeks to suggest a template for studies undertaken on smaller church communities, and is set out in two main sections. The first section investigates the figure of the saint, his life, church, the manuscript source and the combination of prose and verse in the text. The second section examines the testimony of the Life regarding the ecclesiastical and secular concerns of the community of Lann, and how these concerns are represented. Evidence regarding the members of this community and their interaction with the church and the wider world is also discussed.
Hagiography , Saints , Irish history , Twelfth century , Medieval Irish hagiography , Twelfth-century hagiography
Dillon, G. D. 2013. Betha Cholmáin maic Luacháin: An Ecclesiastical Microcosm of the Twelfth-Century Irish Midlands. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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