Faddan More Psalter On RTE Television

Faddan More Psalter

A TV documentary on the Faddan More Psalter, latter a remarkable archaeological find in a remote bog at Faddan More in North Tipperary and its conservation, will go out on RTE Television tonight at 10.15 p.m.

“Treasure of the bogs” is a documentary about a unique archaeological find here in County Tipperary which reveals the potential links between Irish Christianity and the Coptic Church of the Middle East.

The find, a fragmented illuminated vellum manuscript of psalms dating back to the late eighth century was cased in a leather binding and is the first manuscript to be found in a water logged state in a bog, posing unique and profound difficulties for the Conservation Department at the National Museum.

This documentary offers exclusive insight into the work of leading Irish book conservator John Gillis and the National Museum’s team as they embarked upon this dramatic and pain-staking journey of recovery and indeed discovery.

This is a programme not to be missed by lovers of Tipperary history.


9 comments to Faddan More Psalter On RTE Television

  • Brendan Holland

    I watched the programme with astonishment both at the fantastic conservation methods used to preserve this truly historic find and the revelation of the use of papyrus with the suggested link to the Middle Eastern Coptic Church.

    I was also pleased that the programme makers set the find in its true historical context, explaining that Ireland, at that stage, had not come under the influence of Rome and that its Christianity developed in isolation during the so called Dark Ages in Europe.

    When the historians have studied this Psalter and its significance we may well have to revise our long held beliefs regarding the Coptic Church and its true authenticity as it claims direct descent from the original Christian disciples.
    Of course, the claim by Rome of it being the one true church is also up for reconsideration and I say that as a practising Catholic.

    I have a feeling this find may have more to tell us and, if not, cause us to review some long held beliefs about the early Irish church. The long battle between the hierarchy/Rome and the Irish Church both before and after the Plantation is well known and contributed to the death of St Oliver Plunkett – the differences between both were cruelly exploited by the English administration.

    This programme was a wonderful piece of television history and should be a must for all Irish historical societies. Well done to all involved, especially the conservator from Trinity College.

  • Hi Brendan,
    A truly magnificent insight into conservation and a remarkable find.

  • Mrs. Rene O'Riordan

    There was constant commerce between the Irish monks and very far away lands. For example the blue used in the Book of Kells can be found nowhere except in Persia so the monks obviously traveled there. Finding a piece of papyrus glued onto the cover of the psalter is no reason to “re-examine” the ancient Irish Church for it’s fidelity to Rome. Bishop Patrick was sent to us from Rome. Although we got the tonsure wrong and we were in disagreement about the Easter Calender we did comply with Rome when it came right down to it. I loved the programme and am very excited about the find but was astonished at the amazing jump to the conclusion that we were not in accord with the Catholic Church. – Blessings – Rene

  • Hi Rene,
    I agree with you. The purple used in the Book of Kells was made from a plant which grows in the Mediterranean. The blue was made from a precious stone called the Lapis Lazuli. This precious stone was mined in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. In the past this has never suggested we should re-examine our beliefs regarding the ancient Irish Church. Thank you for your view expressed.

  • Brendan Holland

    Hi Rene,

    The relations with the Irish Church and Rome may have been cordial but the Irish Church was not always in accord with Rome. For examole, celibacy was not uniformly adhered to until the 17th century. Until the appointment of St Oliver Plunkett the Irish church in Ulster was always in conflict with the Archbishop of Armagh who was based in Drogheda because it was deemed unsafe in Armagh where he would have been at the mercy of the O’Neill Chieftains. Indeed on some occasions the Archbishop or members of his clergy were kidnapped for ransom. Until the 12th century the Irish church was monastic rather than secular and fiercely guarded its independence which explains the various contacts you mention in your email. You also probably know that Pope Adrian gave the English king his approval for invading Ireland in the 12th century because his agenda was to bring the Irish church more under Rome control. So in retrospect it is not a major jump to conclude that the Irish church of the time of the Feddan More Book was largely independent and probably very much in touch with the Coptics in Egypt who, to this day, object strongly to political interference in their affairs. Indeed this was the cause of their break with Rome because the Emperor was trying to control the Coptics through or with the assistance of the Pope in Rome.

    So we should be very proud of these mystic men who, like the Coptics, followed Christ into the wilderness for 40 days for meditation and prayer; hence the monastic ruins in the most remote parts of the west of Ireland.

  • You make a very interesting point. Thank you.

  • Mrs. Rene O'Riordan

    Brendan you seem to imply monasticism and independence from Rome are synonymous. Benedict was monastic and totally faithful to Rome. Francis was monastic and totally faithful to Rome. Our wonderful St. Columbanus who founded the monastery in Bobio was totally faithful to Rome. If Rome was not our authority what was? Patrick came here and consecrated Bishops by 450ad a college was established at Armagh under Benignus; other schools arose at Kildare, Noendrum, and Louth; and by the end of the fifth century these colleges sent forth a sufficient supply of trained priests.Then there were those who sought for solitude and silence these were the monks, for they longed to be alone with God. But their retreats were soon invaded and thus arose monastic establishments the fame of which soon spread throughout Europe. Noted examples in the sixth century were Clonard, founded by St. Finian, Clonfert by St. Brendan, Bangor by St. Comgall, Clonmacnoise by St. Kieran, Arran by St. Enda; and, in the seventh century, Lismore by St. Carthage and Glendalough by St. Kevin.
    The Irish Church, was in no way out of communion with the See of Rome. It may be that Pelagianism found some few adherents, though Arianism did not, nor the errors as to the natures and wills of Christ. In the number of its sacraments, in its veneration for the Blessed Virgin, in its belief in the Mass and in Purgatory, in its obedience to the See of Rome, the creed of the early Irish Church was the Catholic creed of today.
    In 590ad St. Columbanus, a student of Bangor, accompanied by twelve companions, arrived in France and established the monastery of Luxeuil, the parent of many monasteries, he then laboured at Bregenz, and finally founded the monastery of Bobbio, which as a centre of knowledge and piety was long the light of northern Italy. And meantime his friend and fellow-student St. Gall laboured with conspicuous success in Switzerland, St. Fridolin along the Rhine, St. Fiacre near Meaux, St. Kilian at Wurzburg, St. Livinus in Brabant, St. Fursey on the Marne, St. Cataldus in southern Italy; all faithful to the See of Peter. In later times we suffered so much because we were called “Papists”. The blood of the Irish martyrs cries out to us to remember their sacrifice for the Church, to remain faithful to the Apostolic teaching that Bishop Patrick brought and to the glory of our Faith that obtained for us the title “Island of Saints and Scholars” God forbid that we should be careless about that now. It is ludicrous to hint at a Church in Ireland that was at odds with the See of Peter. – Blessings – Rene

  • John Corcorab

    Rene O’Riordan is missing the point, this psalter is 8th century and therefore is from a period before the schism when the Roman Patriarchate decided that it alone of the 8 patriarchates was the pre-eminent one. For the Irish monks of the 8th century their loyalty was to the Church of Christ which would be ALL of the Patriarchates, including the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Constanstinople. The Irish and Celtic churches only fell under the sway of the Roman Patriarchate alone under the duress of the Norman invasion. If the monastics in Ireland today were to be broughty back to life, they would in all likelihood find themselves recognising more of their own practices in the Orthodox Churches, especially in the Monasticism still flourishing in the 53 Monasteries and Sketes of Mount Athos in Greece which bears an uncanny resemblance to the models of monasticism developed in Ireland, and which many scholars believe were modelled on the forms of desert monasticism developed in Egypt and still to be found to this day in the Ortodox monasteries of Mount Sinai.

  • Mrs. Rene O'Riordan

    The Synod of Whitby took place in 663/4. It was to settle the time of year in which Easter was to be celebrated. St.Colmán assented to the truth about Peter, “the keeper of the keys” and decided the Celtic Church should follow Rome’s ruling on the matter. Also there was a dispute about tonsuring, as the celtic Church tonsured from ear to ear (you can see that in the Book of Kells) whatever the debates on the matter the ear to ear tonsuring faded away. – Blessings – Rene

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