From Princeton, here is an interesting-looking new biography of the 5th-Century Apostle of Ireland, St. Patrick Retold: The Legend and History of Ireland’s Patron Saint. The author is historian Roy Flechner (University College Dublin). I had not heard the story of Patrick’s being a revenue collector for the Roman Empire. But the resonance of being a reformed tax collector cannot have been lost on a preacher of the Gospel, or his audience. Here’s the description of the book from the Princeton website:
A gripping biography that brings together the most recent research to shed provocative new light on the life of Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick was, by his own admission, a controversial figure. Convicted in a trial by his elders in Britain and hounded by rumors that he settled in Ireland for financial gain, the man who was to become Ireland’s patron saint battled against great odds before succeeding as a missionary. Saint Patrick Retold draws on recent research to offer a fresh assessment of Patrick’s travails and achievements. This is the first biography in nearly fifty years to explore Patrick’s career against the background of historical events in late antique Britain and Ireland.
Roy Flechner examines the likelihood that Patrick, like his father before him, might have absconded from a career as an imperial official responsible for taxation, preferring instead to migrate to Ireland with his family’s slaves, who were his source of wealth. Flechner leaves no stone unturned as he takes readers on a riveting journey through Romanized Britain and late Iron Age Ireland, and he considers how best to interpret the ambiguous literary and archaeological evidence from this period of great political and economic instability, a period that brought ruin for some and opportunity for others. Rather than a dismantling of Patrick’s reputation, or an argument against his sainthood, Flechner’s biography raises crucial questions about self-image and the making of a reputation.
From boyhood deeds to the challenges of a missionary enterprise, Saint Patrick Retold steps beyond established narratives to reassess a notable figure’s life and legacy.
In June, Four Courts Press will release The Irish Church, Its Reform and the English Invasion by Donnchadh Ó Corráin (University College Cork). The publisher’s description follows:
This book radically reassesses the reform of the Irish Church in the twelfth century, on its own terms and in the context of the English Invasion that it helped precipitate. Professor Ó Corráin sets these profound changes in the context of the pre-Reform Irish church, in which he is a foremost expert. He re-examines how Canterbury’s political machinations drew its archbishops into Irish affairs, offering Irish kings and bishops unsought advice, as if they had some responsibility for the Irish church: the author exposes their knowledge as limited and their concerns not disinterested.
The Irish Church, its Reform and the English Invasion considers the success of the major reforming synods in giving Ireland a new diocesan structure, but equally how they failed to impose marriage reform and clerical celibacy, a failure mirrored elsewhere. And when St Malachy of Armagh took the revolutionary step of replacing indigenous Irish monasticism with Cistercian abbeys and Augustinian priories, the consequences were enormous. They involved the transfer to the bishops and foreign orders of vast properties from the great traditional houses (such as Clonmacnoise and Monasterboice) which, the author argues, was better called asset-stripping, if not vandalism.
Laudabiliter satis (1155/6), Pope Adrian IV’s letter to Henry II, gave legitimacy to English royal intervention in Ireland on the specious grounds that the Irish were Christians in name, pagan in fact. Henry came to Ireland in 1171, most Irish kings submitting to him without a blow, and, at the Council of Cashel (1171/2), the Irish episcopate granted the kingship of Ireland to him and his successors forever – a revolution in church and state. These momentous events are re-evaluated here, the author delivering a damning verdict on the motivations of popes, bishops and kings.
In December, the Manchester University Press released “Church, state and social science in Ireland:Knowledge institutions and the rebalancing of power, 1937–73,” by Peter Murray (Maynooth University) and Maria Feeney (Maynooth University). The publisher’s description follows:
The immense power the Catholic Church once wielded in Ireland has considerably diminished over the last fifty years. During the same period the Irish state has pursued new economic and social development goals by wooing foreign investors and throwing the state’s lot in with an ever-widening European integration project. How a less powerful church and a more assertive state related to one another during the key third quarter of the twentieth century is the subject of this book. Drawing on newly available material, it looks at how social science, which had been a church monopoly, was taken over and bent to new purposes by politicians and civil servants. This case study casts new light on wider processes of change, and the story features a strong and somewhat surprising cast of characters ranging from Sean Lemass and T.K. Whitaker to Archbishop John Charles McQuaid and Father Denis Fahey.
In September, Four Courts Press released “Religion and Politics in Urban Ireland, c. 1500-c.1750,” edited by Salvator Ryan (Patrick’s College, Maynooth) and Cladagh Tait (University of Limerick). The publisher’s description follows:
This collection celebrates the career of Colm Lennon, one of Ireland’s most respected early modern historians. It examines the interplay between politics and religion in early modern Ireland, with a particular focus on its urban communities. Topics include the Reformation in sixteenth-century Cork; the often turbulent lives of nuns in early modern Galway; relations between various Protestant groupings in early modern Belfast; the career of an Old English Catholic physician in seventeenth-century Dublin and Limerick; the tale of how migrant Dublin textile workers found themselves before the Spanish Inquisition; and the hagiography of an eighteenth-century Dublin priest. It also features an edition of a dispute in 1600 between Henry Fitzsimon and James Ussher on whether the pope should be considered the antichrist.
In February, Four Courts Press released “Violence, Politics and Catholicism in Ireland,” by Oliver P. Rafferty (Boston College). The publisher’s description follows:
This collection of essays looks at the interrelated themes of Catholicism, violence and politics in the Irish context in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although much effort was expended by institutional Catholicism in trying to curb the violent propensities of the Fenians in the nineteenth century and the IRA in the twentieth, its efforts were largely unsuccessful. Ironically, Catholicism had greater achievements to boast of in its influence in the British Empire as a whole than over its wayward flock in Ireland. But there was a cost in the church’s commitment to British imperial expansion that did not always sit easily with growing nationalist expectations in Ireland.
Although it provided support for the British forces in the First World War, by the time of the Second World War the church’s views of that conflict differed little from those of the government of independent Ireland, although there were sufficient differences that ensured Catholicism was not just nationalism at prayer.
These and other issues such as religious perceptions of the Famine, Cardinal Cullen’s role in shaping the ethos of Irish Catholicism and the role of memory, including religious memory, in Irish violence combine to make this a fascinating study.
This March, Edinburgh University Press will release “Muslims in Ireland: Past and Present” by Oliver Scharbrodt (University of Chester), Tuula Sakaranaho (University of Helsinki), Adil Hussain Khan (Loyola University), Yafa Shanneik (University College Cork) and Vivian Ibrahim (University of Mississippi). The publisher’s description follows:
Since 9/11, the interest in Muslims in Europe has increased significantly. There has been much public debate and academic research focused on Muslims living in larger Western European countries like Britain, France or Germany, but little is known of Muslims in Ireland. This book fills this gap, providing a complete study of this unexplored Muslim presence, from the arrival of the first Muslim resident in Cork, in the southwest of Ireland, in 1784 until mass immigration to the Republic of Ireland during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ period from the mid-1990s onwards. Muslim immigration and settlement in Ireland is very recent, and poses new challenges to a society that has perceived itself as religiously and culturally homogeneous. Ireland is also one of the least secular societies in Europe, providing a different context for Muslims seeking recognition by state and society. This book is essential for anyone who wants to understand the diversity of Muslim presences across Europe.
This February, Lexington Books will release “The Catholic Church in Ireland Today” edited by David Carroll Cochran (Loras College) and John C. Waldmeir (Loras College). The publisher’s description follows:
From a Church that once enjoyed devotional loyalty, political influence, and institutional power unrivaled in Europe, the Catholic Church in Ireland now faces collapse. Devastated by a series of reports on clerical sexual abuse, challenged publicly during several political battles, and painfully aware of plunging Mass attendance, the Irish Church today is confronted with the loss of its institutional legitimacy. This study is the first international and interdisciplinary attempt to consider the scope of the problem, analyze issues that are crucial to the Irish context, and identify signs of both resilience and renewal. In addition to an overview of the current status and future directions of Irish Catholicism, The Catholic Church in Ireland Today examines specific issues such as growing secularism, the changing image of Irish bishops, generational divides, Catholic migrants to Ireland, the abuse crisis and responses in Ireland and the United States, Irish missionaries, the political role of Irish priests, the 2012 Dublin Eucharistic Congress, and contemplative strands in Irish identity. This book identifies the key issues that students of Irish society and others interested in Catholic culture must examine in order to understand the changing roles of religion in the contemporary world.
Later this month, Palgrave Macmillan releases Irish Religious Conflict in Comparative Perspective: Catholics, Protestants and Muslims, edited by John Wolffe (Open University UK). The publisher’s description follows:
By setting the Irish religious conflict in a wide comparative perspective, this book offers fresh insights into the causes of religious conflicts, and potential means of resolving them. The collection mounts a challenge to widely held views of ‘Irish exceptionalism’ and points to significant historical and contemporary commonalities across the Western European and North Atlantic worlds. In so doing it enriches understanding not only of the cultural and political legacies of Christendom’s internal divisions, but also of the factors currently hampering the peaceful assimilation of Muslims in Western societies. The ‘on the ground’ experience detailed in several of the chapters shows, however, that religion can be part of the ‘solution’ as well as part of the ‘problem’, and the book develops conclusions and implications that are important for practitioners and policy-makers as well as for academics.
Next month, Manchester University Press will publish Freedom and the Fifth Commandment: Catholic Priests and Political Violence in Ireland, 1919–21, by Brian Heffernan (Independent Scholar). The publisher’s description follows.
The guerilla war waged between the IRA and the crown forces between 1919 and 1921 was a pivotal episode in the modern history of Ireland. This book addresses the War of Independence from a new perspective by focusing on the attitude of a powerful social elite: the Catholic clergy.
The close relationship between Irish nationalism and Catholicism was put to the test when a pugnacious new republicanism emerged after the 1916 Easter rising. When the IRA and the crown forces became involved in a guerilla war between 1919 and 1921, priests had to define their position anew.
Using a wealth of source material, much of it newly available, this book assesses the clergy’s response to political violence. It describes how the image of shared victimhood at the hands of the British helped to contain tensions between the clergy and the republican movement, and shows how the links between Catholicism and Irish nationalism were sustained.
This January, Columba Press will publish Quo Vadis? Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law by Mary McAleese (former President of Ireland). The publisher’s description follows.
In her first book since leaving Aras An Uachtarain, Mary McAleese has produced a masterful and highly accessible study of how Vatican II’s teachings on collegiality, or how power and responsibility were to be shared between the Pope and the college of bishops within the Catholic Church, have either been sidetracked or not yet come to fruition, depending on how you interpret the events which followed the Council up to the present day.
Vatican II embraced a fresh new vision of the Church as the People of God, turning away from the rigidly hierarchic structure of the past. It left a clear picture of the Church as communio or community but no clear road-map of how to get there. While it sowed seeds of confusion it also infused into the Church an expectation of broader ecclesial participation and co-responsibility which has impacted in many different ways. Read more