Synod of Cashel

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XVII

Henry's great object was to represent himself as one who had come to redress grievances rather than to claim allegiance; but however he may have deceived princes and chieftains, he certainly did not succeed in deceiving the clergy. The Synod of Cashel, which he caused to be convened, was not attended as numerously as he had expected, and the regulations made thereat were simply a renewal of those which had been made previously. The Primate of Ireland was absent, and the prelates who assembled there, far from having enslaved the State to Henry, avoided any interference in politics either by word or act. It has been well observed, that, whether "piping or mourning," they are not destined to escape. Their office was to promote peace. So long as the permanent peace and independence of the nation seemed likely to be forwarded by resistance to foreign invasion, they counselled resistance; when resistance was hopeless, they recommended acquiescence, not because they believed the usurpation less unjust, but because they considered submission the wisest course. But the Bull of Adrian had not yet been produced; and Henry's indifference about this document, or his reluctance to use it, shows of how little real importance it was considered at the time. One fearful evil followed from this Anglo-Norman invasion. The Irish clergy had hitherto been distinguished for the high tone of their moral conduct; the English clergy, unhappily, were not so rich in this virtue, and their evil communication had a most injurious effect upon the nation whom it was supposed they should be so eminently capable of benefiting.