This volume The Medieval Diocese of Cloyne: a history, is written both for the general reader and the specialist. It should be seen as a second volume of a putative series of books dealing with the history of the diocese of Cloyne. In 2004 Dr. MacCotter published his Colmán of Cloyne: A Study. That volume can be considered to be the first volume in such a series. In that volume he dealt with the life and times of the patron saint of the diocese of Cloyne, Colmán mac Léinín. Then he went on to treat of the cult of Colmán and of the history of his primary foundation, the church of Cloyne. MacCotter then went on to demonstrate how the mother-church of Cloyne acquired a greatparuchia or territory which, in the course of time, became the template for the subsequent diocese of Cloyne.
The present volume largely begins where that earlier volume ends. Yet not all matters pertaining to the early ecclesiastical history of the diocese of Cloyne are dealt with in Colmán of Cloyne: A Study, resulting in the first two chapters of this present work, which attempt to ‘round out’ the areas not covered in that earlier account. Chapter three of this volume enables us to take up our account of the shadowy story of the birth of the ‘reformed’ diocese of Cloyne. The following chapters cover the history of the diocese down to the time of the Counter-Reformation. Following the traditional method of such diocesan histories, the reigns of each succeeding bishop is discussed and placed within its historical context while a single chapter seeks to deal with the late-medieval monastic life of the diocese. An innovative feature of the present study is a chapter on the establishment of the parish system and deaneries of the diocese, drawing on MacCotter’s expertise in the area of medieval Irish historical geography.
Several significant elements of the history of the diocese not hitherto understood are illuminated. Two examples may be given. MacCotter demonstrates how the muintir of the diocese survived into the fourteenth century before being systematically replaced by an English dominated cadre of senior clergy. Then we have the issue of Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy (†1492): how an excommunicate interloper representing a major secular power-block seeking to dominate the see-lands came to be elevated to the status of semi-sainthood through the machinations of Nationalist Catholic clerical ‘historians’ of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
This volume is written in a style designed to be accessible to readers of a general background, and accordingly is not referenced. There is, however, a detailed appendix which discusses sources and further reading in detail. An important element of the present volume is a fully referenced appendix where core material for parish history is given under heading of the 119 medieval parishes found in the diocese. Each entry consists of details of placename, earliest record, dedication, physical location, appropriation and impropriation, and finally location within the modern Catholic parish system. The book ends at the start of the seventeenth century.
The book is published by Columba Press and is available in Veritas bookshops, through the diocese of Cloyne, or online athttp://www.columba.ie/index.php/our-catalogue/history/a-history-of-the-medieval-diocese-of-cloyne.html