Kildare, Abbey of

views updated


Former Irish monastery in Kildare, County Kildare (Cill Dara, "the church of the oak tree"), Ireland. Its foundation by St. brigid dates probably from the transition period between the death of St. Patrick and the rise of the great monastic founders, that is, c. 460 to 520. Church organization was still incomplete, and Brigid found herself the most important Christian personage in a large part of the province of Leinster. To provide for the spiritual needs of the people, she induced the bishop, Conlaed, to leave his hermit life and take up residence in a house beside the convent for women she had already founded at Kildare. This was the beginning of the double monastery there, the only one of its kind in Ireland. Brigid and her successors as abbess of Kildare exercised jurisdiction over the faithful in the neighborhood with the approval of the successors of St. Patrick in armagh. The long line of abbesses continued to 1171; a corresponding list of abbots, bishops, and other officials shows that the men's monastery retained its identity into the 12th century. When Kildare became an Episcopal see in 1111, it gradually shed its earlier monastic character. giraldus cambrensis speaks of the Book of Kildare, which seems to have compared with the Book of kells, but this is lost. Only the monastic round tower remains of the abbey buildings.

Bibliography: j. f. kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland, v. 1, Ecclesiastical (New York 1929) 356364. The Annals of Ulster, ed. and tr. w. m. hennessy and b. maccarthy, 4 v. (Dublin 18871909). Chronicum Scotorum, ed. w. m. hennessy (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores 46; 1866). The Annals of Inisfallen, ed. and tr. s. macairt (Dublin 1951). Annals of the Four Masters, ed. and tr. j. o'donovan, 7 v. (2d ed. Dublin 1856).

[j. ryan]

About this article

Kildare, Abbey of

Updated About content Print Article