Households of God

The Regular Canons and Canonesses of St Augustine and of Prémontré in Medieval Ireland

Martin Browne OSB & Colmán Ó Clabaigh OSB, editors

Hardback €45.00
Catalogue Price: €50.00
ISBN: 978-1-84682-788-4
November 2019. 352pp; colour illustrations

“The canons and canonesses of St Augustinian, in their various guises, were the most widespread of all of the religious orders in medieval Ireland. Their influence on people in Ireland from the twelfth century through to the dissolution of their houses by the English/British crown from the 1530s, and for decades afterwards, was significant in myriad ways. Yet, with the death of the last Augustinian canon in 1829 their story was neglected … Altogether this impressive collection of essays transforms our understanding and appreciation of one of the largest institutions in operation in medieval Ireland. It shows how much Ireland’s built heritage can contribute to the study of Irish history, and it reminds andy historian who may yet need to be reminded of the pitfalls of insularity when studying the transnational medieval church”. Henry A. Jefferies, Irish Historical Studies (2022)

“As Browne and Ó Clabaigh note in the brief introduction to this edited collection, the history of religious life has ‘largely been the preserve of the survivors’, which helps to explain why there has been so little written about the Augustinian canons and canonesses of Ireland, in spite of their significance in the central and later Middle Ages. This volume seeks to pull the Augustinians out from the shadows of the Cistercians and other orders that have hitherto dominated the historiography of Irish religious communities. The volume is a substantial and wide-ranging one, including historical, textual, archaeological, architectural, and art historical studies … the book is a handsomely-produced one, copiously illustrated (in colour and in black and white) with maps and lavish images of manuscripts, churches, and archaeological sites. The cover design is sumptuous, and the book has a useful index ... In sum, this is an important collection which lays the groundwork for the study of the history of the Augustinian canons and canonesses in medieval Ireland”. Elizabeth Boyle, Augustiniana (2022)

“The Fourth Glenstal History Conference, had as its theme and focus the study of the Augustinian regular canons and their female counterparts in medieval Ireland. With their usual efficiency the editors have now produced the wide-ranging and, in many cases ground-breaking papers delivered on that occasion … This work, utilising the research and expertise of wide range of scholars across many disciplines has made a major contribution not only to the history and achievements of the Canons regular in Ireland, who took over so many of the older Irish churches in the age of reform in the twelfth century, but also sheds valuable light on many aspects of Irish ecclesiastical, social, economic and political history”. John O’Brien, North Munster Antiquarian Journal (2022)

"This fine collection of fourteen essays is a welcome addition to the growing corpus of scholarly work. It covers not only the Augustinian houses, but also those orders – Victorine, Premonstratensian, and Arrouaisian – that grafted their own framework onto the rule of St Augustine … The editors are to be congratulated on bringing together a collection of essays of a high standard that illuminate the role of these diverse groups of men and women and their contribution to medieval Ireland. The publishers, too, deserve mention for the quality of production of the volume and its many images and maps." Janet Burton, The Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies (2020)

“It was an inspired decision of the Glenstal History Conference to make the Augustinians the focus of their 2017 meeting because by bringing together leading scholars in the field it has resulted in this very fine collection of essays. Previously, the ‘canonical movement’ (those who followed the rule of St Augustine) had been rather neglected in the literature, but now that these powerful lights have been shone on it, from various disciplinary directions, it comes much more clearly into focus ... The detailed picture presented here is much more nuanced … The reader who follows this exploration of the documentary and archaeological remains of the Augustinians is further helped by the excellent presentation of the book, with its central section of 12 colour plates and 63 interspersed black and white figures (photographs, plans, prints, maps, and drawings). Newcomers to this period and aspect of Irish history especially will find that the highly attractive front cover offers an enticing entry point. It shows a group of seven Augustinians, in their distinctive black habits, making music to the glory of God the Father — here depicted as long-haired with a distinctive top-curl, fork-bearded, and gap-toothed … The beauty of such a collection is that it does not have to be read in chronological order. So readers more familiar with the later period might prefer to begin with the final chapter by Clemens Galban: at the end of the Augustinian tradition in Ireland, with the last of its canons, Patrick Prendergast, abbot of Cong and custodian of its famous 12th-century cross, who died in 1829 (p 274) ... Colmán Ó Clabaigh's contribution on how the Augustinian chapter house worked might be the best place to start, before getting to grips with wider and more difficult issues of origins and development, based on highly fragmentary and often intractable evidence. It abounds with fascinating insights ... This insight into the religious ‘worldview’ that was ‘shattered’ by the dissolution of the monasteries and the theological upheaval of the Reformation, may help to explain how Ó Corráin got the ‘reform’ of the Irish church by ‘Malachy and his coterie of advanced reformers’ (including the Augustinians) so magnificently wrong. However misguided and unsuccessful, they were engaged in a truly transnational rather than a narrowly national project. No doubt had he lived to see the publication of this excellent collection he would have relished the opportunity to engage with its qualifications, refinements, and extensions of Gwynn and Hadcock’s ‘dominant narrative’, thereby setting a good example to us all.” Brian Lambkin Ulster Journal of Archaeology 75 (2019-20)

"Households of God: the Regular Canons and Canonesses of Saint Augustine and of Prémontré in medieval Ireland ... is an edited volume of papers devoted to the history, archaeology and material culture of the Augustinians in Ireland from their arrival in the twelfth century ... this book can be said to demonstrate well the contributions of the regular canons to Irish church and society through the centuries." Archaeology Ireland, (Spring 2020). 

"This beautifully produced book will be a welcome addition to any bookshelf on Irish religious history ... The collection as a whole provides a good overview of the phenomenon [the canonical movement in Ireland] ... [each of the contributors] provides an interesting essay on a particular area in its own right. Specialists will benefit from the collection and, likewise, the general reader interested in a good book on the history of the Church in medieval Ireland will find this book to be an informative and interesting read." Neil Xavier O'Donoghue, The Furrow