Book Details
Mandatory Fields
Tomás Ó Carragáin
Churches in Early Medieval Ireland. Architecture, Ritual and Memory
Yale University Press
New Haven and London
Optional Fields
This is the first book devoted to churches in Ireland from the arrival of Christianity in the fifth century to the early stages of the Romanesque around 1100, including those built to house treasures of the golden age of Irish art such as the Book of Kells and the Ardagh chalice. Tomás Ó Carragáin’s comprehensive survey of the surviving examples here forms the basis for a far-reaching analysis of why these buildings looked as they did, and what they meant in the context of early Irish society. What strikes one immediately about these buildings is their simplicity; virtually all are rectangular in plan with a single doorway in the west wall. This was not due to ignorance of architecture elsewhere in Europe, but because of an imperative to remain true to a model, of ultimately Romano-British origin, which had become associated with the founding saints. These churches were seen as associative relics: permanent stone versions of wooden churches built by the founders, embodying memories about these saints and legitimising the authority of their successors. Ritual practices played an important role in conveying these ideas to the general population. In this book the Irish architectural context of early medieval rituals is analysed for the first time. It also includes the most detailed analysis to date of the layout of major complexes such as Armagh, Clonmacnoise and Glendalough. At these sites there were ten or more churches, along with other monuments like round towers and high crosses. Ó Carragáin argues that some of these complexes were intended to recall distant sacred topographies, especially Jerusalem and Rome. He also identifies a clear political and ideological context for the first Romanesque churches in Ireland and shows that, to a considerable extent, the Irish Romanesque represents the perpetuation of a long-established architectural tradition.
Grant Details
Paul Mellon Centre for the Study of British Art Publication Grant; NUI Publication Grant; UCC College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences Publication Grant; UCC Department of Archaeology Publication Grant