Article in Downside Review: ‘The Cult of St Edmund, King and Martyr in Medieval Ireland’

Sketch of St Edmund’s Priory, Athassel by George Victor du Noyer, 1840 (National Library of Ireland)

My article ‘The Cult of St Edmund, King and Martyr in Medieval Ireland’ has just been published in Downside Review. The article is the first study of the significance of St Edmund in Ireland, and is the precursor to a book I am currently writing on the subject.

St Edmund, king and martyr was one of the most venerated English saints in Ireland from the twelfth century. In Dublin, St Edmund had his own chapel in Christ Church Cathedral and a guild, while Athassel Priory in County Tipperary claimed to possess a miraculous image of the saint. In the late fourteenth century the coat of arms ascribed to St Edmund became the emblem of the king of England’s lordship of Ireland, and the name Edmund (or its Irish equivalent Éamon) was widespread in the country by the end of the Middle Ages. The article argues that the cult of St Edmund, the traditional patron saint of the English people, served to reassure the English of Ireland of their Englishness, and challenges the idea that St Edmund was introduced to Ireland as a heavenly patron of the Anglo-Norman conquest.

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