Foundations of Irish Culture
A great deal that has been written about Irish culture in the period ad 600-850 has been touched by the Romantic views of the 19th century, which saw Ireland as a lone beacon of knowledge shining out during Europe’s ‘Dark Ages’. That view has been most recently expounded in the book by Thomas Cahill, How Ireland saved civilization (1995), which proposed to demonstrate how ‘the great heritage of western civilization … would have been utterly lost were it not for the holy men and women of the unconquered Ireland’.
It is a curious fact, however, that scholarly research on this topic has been conducted almost exclusively outside Ireland. Our current knowledge of Hiberno-Latin and Hiberno-Greek (and also the medieval Irish knowledge of Hebrew) is derived from the work of scholars in continental European countries, as well as Canada and the United States. While this is a very positive affirmation of the importance that such research is felt to have in these countries, it is nevertheless extraordinary that research of this kind on this subject has been almost entirely neglected in this country. These Projects will seek to establish a platform on which native scholarship can match that of our colleagues abroad.
An on-line catalogue of Early Irish Manuscripts on the Continent is now available online.
A Corpus of Irish Stone Inscriptions
Outdoor cultural heritage monuments suffer greatly from the weathering process, and are at an ever-increasing risk of severe and permanent damage. This is especially so for monuments with carved inscriptions, since the inscriptions can be worn past recognition as a consequence of the weathering process and atmospheric pollution. For this reason, the surviving records of Ireland’s past are constantly at risk.
The Irish Inscribed Stones Project draws on the technical expertise developed by the Foundations of Irish Culture Project based at NUI Galway by using the very latest, state-of-the art laser scanning technology to produce a corpus of all known Irish stone inscriptions in one single archive. The first phase of this project, a Corpus of Inscribed Stones at Clonmacnois, is now available online: http://www.nuigalway.ie/irish-inscribed-stones-project/