Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Eucharist in Pre-Norman Ireland

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Eucharist in Pre-Norman Ireland

Article excerpt

The Eucharist in Pre-Norman Ireland. By Neil Xavier O'Donoghue. (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 2011. Pp. xv; 352. $48.00 paperback. ISBN 978-0-268-03732-1.)

In this study of the Eucharist in pre-Norman Ireland, Neil Xavier O'Donoghue has assembled an array of primary source material that is most impressive in its breadth and quality, and the University of Notre Dame Press has done this source material ample justice in its attractive presentation. However, on closer inspection, one finds his secondary sources are dated and incomplete, and his engagement with his sources is frequently not sufficiently critical. Throughout his work, there is an undercurrent of inaccuracies, so easily verifiable that it brings his scholarship into serious question. To highlight but a few of these: "When William died, he was succeeded by his son, Henry G (p. 32). But when William died, in 1087, he was succeeded by his second son, William Rufus, who reigned until his own death in 1 100. The Irish Church was a "church without martyrs" (p. 14), but St. Patrick's Letter to Coroticus gives the lie to this popular belief. He claims that there is "little in Irish monasticism that could be termed unique "(p. 14) but seems to overlook the Céli Dé penchant for the daily recitation of the "beloved three fifties," the "Breastplate of Devotion," and other practices of piety that are not found elsewhere. O'Donoghue claims that the use of chrismals was "a peculiarity to preNorman Ireland" (p. 121) and yet can quote the blessing of a chrismal from the Pontifical of Egbert, Archbishop of York, and further on (pp. 187, 188) refer to chrismals from Mortain in France and from England and Switzerland.

These minor inaccuracies are superficial irritants; however, there are more serious errors. He claims that the Nauigatto sancii Brendani is "an important work of Irish hagiography" (p. 1 16) and to a large extent treats it as such. If he had consulted the critical bibliography of Gryn Burgess and Clara Strijbosch, he would not have made this mistake and so have ignored the pioneering work of such authors as Jonathan Wooding, Thomas O'Loughlin, David Dumville, and many others. …

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