The Irish Franciscan College of St Anthony at Louvain, established in 1607, was an intellectual powerhouse for an attempt to save and promote the religion, culture and language of Gaelic Ireland. Based there was the most significant (and almost the only) Irish-language printing press to operate throughout the course of the 17th century. With St Anthony’s were associated such intellectual giants as Flaithrí Ó Maoil Chonaire and Aodh Mac Cathmhaoil, both Franciscans and both future Irish archbishops. The names of other great scholars who were based there included Frs Hugh Ward, Patrick Fleming, Robert Chamberlain (or Mac Artúir), John Colgan and Thomas O Sheerin. Most notably associated with that effort was Brother Mícheál Ó Cléirigh, heading a scholarly team that produced, inter alia, the Annals of the Four Masters.
This volume – comprising a short work by the Franciscan historian Fr Brendan Jennings, OFM, first published in 1936 (and now thoroughly revised), and eight scholarly articles by Frs Paul Walsh, Felim O’Brien, OFM, and Canice Mooney, OFM – is the first book to tell this inspiring story.
Nollaig Ó Muraíle lectures in Irish at NUI, Galway. He edited Irish Leaders and Learning through the Ages (2003), a collection of Fr Paul Walsh’s writings, and an edition of Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh’s Great Book of Irish Genealogies (2004).