Originally published in 1966, The Church in Early Irish Society traces the history of the church right up until the twelfth century. It gives an account of the problems which arose when the organization of the Christian church, imported from the urban bureaucracy of the Roman Empire, had to be adapted to the society of early Ireland. The book also looks at the legal texts of the sixth seventh and eighth centuries and attempts through them, to trace the gradual process of modification which culminated in the eighth century, when the church now fully adjusted to Irish society, reached a so-far unprecedented height of power and influence. The book also examines the issues faced in the ninth century by the Viking raids and settlements.

part I|36 pages


chapter Chapter 1|7 pages

The heathen Celts

chapter Chapter 2|7 pages

East Mediterranean Christianity

chapter Chapter 3|8 pages

The western provinces

chapter Chapter 4|12 pages

The first missionaries

part II|84 pages


chapter Chapter 5|18 pages

The problems of the sixth-century church

chapter Chapter 6|8 pages

The foundation of monastic paruchiae

chapter Chapter 7|14 pages

The when and why of early monastic paruchiae

chapter Chapter 9|12 pages

Ireland and the outside world

chapter Chapter 10|8 pages

Seventh-century controversies

chapter Chapter 11|10 pages

Armagh’s claims to archiepiscopal authority

part III|74 pages


chapter Chapter 12|11 pages

Irish canonists and the secular law

chapter Chapter 13|9 pages

Monastic establishment

chapter Chapter 14|14 pages

The uses of power

chapter Chapter 15|16 pages

The ‘abuses’ of power

chapter Chapter 16|12 pages

Ascetic revival

chapter Chapter 17|9 pages

The influence of the ascetic revival

part IV|56 pages

Adversity and Recovery

chapter Chapter 18|6 pages

The church and the Viking terror

chapter Chapter 19|12 pages

The ecclesiastical order and the early Viking settlement

chapter Chapter 20|12 pages

The world in the church

chapter Chapter 21|11 pages

Spiritual, intellectual, and artistic life

chapter Chapter 22|12 pages


part V|24 pages


chapter Chapter 23|10 pages

Influences from abroad

chapter Chapter 24|12 pages

Reformation and revolution