Ardbraccan, Abbey of

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Former Celtic monastery of Áird Breccáin near Navan, in Meath, Ireland. It was distinguished by its bishop and abbot, Ultan moccu Conchobuir, who seems to have been the first scholar to collect, or have collected, into one volume the historical material dealing with the work of St. patrick in Ireland. It was this Liber apud Ultanum that was used by Bishop Tírechán c. 670, when he compiled the Memoir, which is the earliest account now extant of St. Patrick's life. The deaths of various abbots who headed this abbey were recorded in the Irish annals of the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries. Maelruba, e.g., anchorite, bishop and abbot of Ardbraccan died in 825. Like every other Irish monastery, it was plundered and burnt on many occasions by the Northmen: as late as 1031 its chief church was set on fire by the Norse of Dublin, and the 200 people who had taken refuge within its walls were burned to death. Maelbrigte, head of the monastic school, died in 1054. By the end of the 12th century the monastery had ceased to function, and its lands had passed to the bishopric of east Meath.

Bibliography: The Annals of Ulster, ed. and tr. w. m. hennessy and b. maccarthy, 4 v. (Dublin 18871901). The Annals of Inisfallen, ed. and tr. s. macairt (Dublin 1951). Chronicum Scotorum, ed. w. m. hennessy (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores 46; 1866). "Annals of Tigernach," ed. w. stokes, Revue celtique 1718 (189697). Annals of the Four Masters, ed. and tr. j. o'donovan, 7 v. (Dublin 1851). The Martyrology of Tallaght, ed. r. i. best and h. j. lawlor (Henry Bradshaw Society 68; London 1931). The Martyrology of Oengus the Culdee, ed. w. stokes (ibid. 29; 1905). The Martyrology of Gorman, ed. w. stokes (ibid. 9; 1895).

[j. ryan]