The Latin Lives of St Laurence of Dublin
Maurice F. Roche
The four Latin ‘lives’ of St Laurence O’Toole (with ancillary material) were critically edited for a doctoral thesis by Maurice Roche in 1981. Sadly Dr Roche died in an accident in 2003. The thesis went ‘missing’ but photographs of it were made available to Mary Kelly and from these Charles Doherty and Mary produced this book. Contact was made with Dr Roche’s relatives who were happy to see his work in print. It was a two volume thesis (now reduced to one). The first consisted of chapters on the life and career of Laurence and invaluable analyses of each of the ‘lives’ revealing the relationships among them and highlighting the very diverse approaches of the hagiographers to their material. The second contains the critical editions of the ‘lives’. For the first time we have a complete dossier of the hagiography of the saint. Critical editions of documents concerning the canonisation and translation followed the ‘lives’. Finally, draft translations of the two most important ‘lives’ (found by his relatives) are appended.
The thesis is of fundamental importance for scholars working in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Irish, English and European history. We are given a unique insight into the settlement of Glendalough including action-packed accounts of brigands’ attacks and the saint’s revenge. They provide a crucial insight into the church and society at a pivotal point in Irish history and are an essential source for those researching the life of St Laurence for the upcoming anniversaries of his birth (1128) and canonisation (1225).
Dr Maurice Roche completed his PhD at UCD in 1981. Working as a senior aide to Mary Harney, he died in 2003 following an accident. At the time of his death Mary Harney wrote: “Maurice was the brightest and sharpest person I ever had the privilege to know.” Charles Doherty is retired from the School of History and Archives, UCD. Mary Kelly, now retired, was an OPW guide at Glendalough for many years.