Tuam, Abbey of

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Former Celtic monastery at Tuam, County Galway, Ireland, which became the seat of the Archdiocese of Tuam (Irish, Tuaim-dá-gualann ). The abbey was founded mid-6th century by St. Iarlaithe (Jarlath), who is said to have taught St. brendan of clonfert and whose relics were preserved until the Reformation in a church called Tempull na Scríne in Tuam. Obituaries of abbots from the 8th to the 11th century show that the monastery survived but was unimportant. Then in the 11th century the O'Connor Kings of Connaught transferred the center of their rule from Roscommon to the Tuam region, making the church at Tuam the object of their special favor. From 1121 to 1156 Toirdelbach O'Connor was the most powerful prince in Ireland, and Tuam came to be regarded as the chief church in the western kingdom. In 1152, at the Synod of Kells, Cardinal Paparo gave Tuam archiepiscopal status. Toirdelbach rebuilt the church in a style worthy of a cathedral, and it is this same King's name that appears on the High-Cross in the market place at Tuam and on the shaft of a second cross now in the Protestant cathedral at Tuam. Both crosses bear also the name of Aed O'hOisin (O'Hessian), who was abbot of Tuam from c. 1126 to 1150, when he became bishop, and then first archbishop of Tuam in 1152. It is likely that at this time the original monastery ceased to function as such and that its lands passed to the archbishop. Later, Tuam town had a house of canons regular of st. augustine (priory of St. John) and a house of premonstratensians.

Bibliography: j. colgan, Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae, ed. b. jennings (Louvain 1645; repr. Dublin 1948) 307310. j. ryan, Irish Monasticism (London 1931). e. a. d'alton, History of the Archdiocese of Tuam, 2 v. (Dublin 1928). Annála Connacht: The Annals of Connacht, A. D. 12241544, ed. and tr. a. m. freeman (Dublin 1944). The Annals of Loch Cé, ed. and tr. w. m. hennessy, 2 v. (Rerum Brittanicarum medii aevi scriptores 54; 1871). Annals of the Four Masters: Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, ed. and tr. j. o'donovan, 7 v. (2d ed. Dublin 1856). r. a. s. macalister, Corpus inscriptionum insularum Celticarum v.2 (Dublin 1949).

[j. ryan]