ABSTRACT

The metamorphosis of the Irish church began with the Synod of Cashel in 1101. This was in truth a reforming synod, whereas the later synods of Ráith Bresail, Uisneach, and Kells brought about a revolution. The first of the synods was, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, a meeting of the Southern Half, led by King Muirchertach Ua Briain with the chiefs of the laity, and Ua Dúnáin with the chiefs of the clergy: both these men had been in correspondence with Anselm. They were concerned to free the church from secular tribute, to protect its rights of sanctuary from abuse, to tighten the native law of marriage, and, above all, to regulate ecclesiastical appointments. Some of these measures, as we shall see, were a continuation of earlier Irish legislation, and all were consistent with a reform of the traditional system, while the canon on marriage fell short of the requirements of Rome, and there was no attempt, as far as we know, to introduce a Roman ecclesiastical hierarchy.