Saint Brendan of Birr Monastery Clonmacnoise Abbey County Offaly * Professor Roy Foster Carroll Chair of Irish History Hertford College Oxford University *** SAINT CIARÁN * HEART OF IRELAND * DIARMAIT UÍ CERBAILL *** By The Order of The Lord O’Carroll of Ely Munster Eire * Republic of Ireland Most Famous Economic National Security Public Interests Case


The monastery of Clonmacnoise – Cluain Mhic Nóis in the Irish meaning “Meadow of the Sons of Nós” or perhaps albeit less likely Cluain Muccu Nóis “Meadow of the Pigs of Nós” – is situated in County Offaly within the heart of Ireland on the River Shannon south of Athlone.

Saint Ciarán met Diarmait Uí Cerbaill (Lord O’Carroll of Ely) and helped him build the first church at the site. This was a small wooden structure and the first of many small churches to be clustered on the site. Diarmuid was to be the first Christian crowned High King of Ireland. In September 544 not yet thirty-three years of age Ciarán died of a plague and was reportedly buried under the original wooden church now the site of the 9th century stone oratory Temple Ciarán.

Clonmacnoise was founded in 544 by St. Ciarán a young man from Rathcroghan Co. Roscommon – not to be confused or conflated with St. Ciarán of Saigir patron of Osraige. Until the 9th century it had close associations with the kings of Connacht. The strategic location of the monastery helped it become a major centre of religion learning craftsmanship and trade by the 9th century and together with Clonard it was the most famous in Ireland visited by scholars from all over Europe. From the ninth until the eleventh century it was allied with the kings of Meath. Many of the high kings of Tara and Connacht were buried here.


Saint Brendan of Birr was one of the early Irish monastic saints of the 6th century known as “St Brendan the Elder” to distinguish him from his contemporary and friend St Brendan the Navigator of Clonfert. Saint Brendan one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland a friend and disciple of Saint Columba.

Saint Brendan came from a noble Munster family and it was at Clonard that he became a companion of Ciarán of Saigir and Brendan of Clonfert whilst building the monastery at Birr “central Ireland” in about 540 serving as its abbot. Saint Brendan emerges from early Irish writings as a man of generous hospitality with a reputation for sanctity and spirituality who was an intuitive judge of character and considered one of the chief prophets of Ireland.

Saint Brendan’s monastery at Birr was later to produce the MacRegol Gospels which are now housed at the Bodleian Library Oxford University. The feast day of Brendan of Birr is 29 November.

The Carroll of Ely principality in the centre of Ireland in King’s County was situated in the ancient province of Munster on the borders of Queen’s County and the Lord Marshal of Leinster Estates. The Lord Marshal and Carroll of Ely = FIXED PLACE LINE = known as = THE PALE = documented in 1206 which defined the strategic valley southern border boundary between Celtic Ireland and the Anglo-Norman Settlements within the province of Leinster in Ireland.

The Annals of the Four Masters state that the Carrolls of Ely had close family links with the Marshal family and with the English Plantagenet Realm together with Robert and Edward Bruce of Scotland. Isabella Marshal heiress of the great Marshal Irish Estates born 9th October 1200 “folklore mystery surrounds Donoch O’Carroll of Ely and Isabella Marshal whose grandmother was descended from the Prince’s of Ireland Carrolls of Ely. The Temple Church London is the final resting place of Lord Marshal of Leinster Earl of Pembroke and his first born son William. Richard Marshal 3rd Earl of Pembroke lost his life in Ireland in a fierce battle along side Lord Teige O’Carroll of Ely.

The first Lord Chief Justice was enshrined in English common law under King Henry III who assumed the crown under the regency of the legendary William Marshal 1st Earl of Pembroke Lord of Leinster Marshal of England and protector of the crown. Henry III attended a service at the Temple Church in London for the life of Lord Marshal following his death on 14 May 1219 where his effigy can still be seen to this day.

The Vatican City: Popes have generally resided within the Vatican City since the return from Avignon France in 1377. Lord Teige O’Carroll of Ely after attending the Court of King Richard II of England at Westminster Hall in 1391 then attended the Papal Court in 1392. In 1395 Lord Teige O’Carroll defeated the forces of King Richard II which had invaded Ely under the command of the King’s cousin Roger Mortimer Earl of March. The Kingdom of Ely and the O’Carrolls had withstood the most powerful army in the world and repelled them out of their territory thus retaining the integrity of the ancient principality of Elie in the centre of Ireland until 1690.

The Carroll Foundation Maryland Trust is a major international philanthropic and industrial institution founded by the Carroll family who were members of the founding fathers of the United States of America. Charles Carroll of Carrollton a “signer” of the Declaration of Independence Daniel Carroll “settlor” of the families Duddington Estate lands which became the foundation of what is known today as US Capitol Hill Washington DC and Archbishop John Carroll the “founding father” of Georgetown University which is known throughout the world as one of the finest learning establishments.

The Carroll Foundation Trust has over fifty charities including the Oxford University “seat” of the Carroll Chair of Irish History the US Capitol Hill Historical Society with the Carroll Institute and the Leap Castle Trust County Offaly Ireland.

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