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Ua Braín, Tigernachlocked

(d. 1088)
  • T. M. Charles-Edwards

Ua Braín, Tigernach (d. 1088), abbot of Clonmacnoise and supposed annalist, as well as heading that major Irish midland monastery was also abbot of the somewhat less important Roscommon. His name has been misleadingly attached to the so-called annals of Tigernach on account of a note in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson B.488, the sole surviving manuscript of the annals for the period after the emperor Antoninus Pius. Under 1088, the year in which the annals of Ulster records his death, the manuscript (of the fourteenth century) has a note saying that Tigernach wrote the text up to that point. This does not make it clear whether he was simply the scribe or also the annalist; the second is perhaps the more likely. In another set of annals, Chronicum Scotorum, he is said to have been 'the heir of Ciarán and of Commán', namely abbot of both Clonmacnoise and Roscommon, and to have belonged to the Síl Muiredaig, the descendants of Muiredach Muillethan (d. 702), the ruling dynasty of the Connachta. The Uí Braín were a branch that had no share in the kingship enjoyed by their kinsmen but had, instead, gone into the church. The earliest attested member of the Uí Braín to be abbot of Clonmacnoise died in 989; another who was abbot of Roscommon died in 1170 and yet another in 1234; the ecclesiastical prominence of the Uí Braín was, therefore, long-standing. Clonmacnoise had had property within Connacht ever since the seventh century; and in the eleventh was the pre-eminent church of the province. Tigernach's abbacy was an example of the close link between Clonmacnoise, itself in Mide, and the Connachta; it could maintain close relations with the rulers of two provinces because they were normally in alliance. Annals, such as those which pass under the name of Tigernach, were carried forward by a succession of annalists; Tigernach Ua Braín may have been one such, but the importance of his office and his own distinguished family background give the annals of Tigernach for the generation before 1088 an added interest.

Sources

  • W. M. Hennessy, ed. and trans., Chronicum Scotorum: a chronicle of Irish affairs, Rolls Series, 46 (1866)
  • P. Walsh, ‘The annals attributed to Tigernach’, Irish Historical Studies, 2 (1940–41), 154–9
  • K. Grabowski and D. Dumville, Chronicles and annals of mediaeval Ireland and Wales: the Clonmacnoise-group texts (1984)
  • K. W. Hughes, Early Christian Ireland: introduction to the sources (1972), chap. 4

Archives

  • Bodl. Oxf., MS Rawl. B.488
S. Mac Airt & G. Mac Niocaill, eds., (1983)