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Gone and forgotten?: reflections on the Roman empire in early Ireland


Friday, October 6, 2023, 13:00 - 14:00


Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2


This event is sold out

Join us for a lunchtime library lecture as part of the Dublin Festival of History on early Irish writer's representations of Imperial Rome by Dr Damian Bracken, UCC School of History.

Long after the collapse of the Roman empire in the West, imperial concepts of power and authority, and ideals of order and civilisation, continued to be deeply influential. For centuries, ethnic identities were constructed, and peoples were measured, against imperial values. From the time of St Patrick, writers in Ireland adapted, and sometimes challenged, these ideas. This talk explores the representations of imperial Rome by writers in early Ireland, a land that was never part of the empire and that gave the lie to imperial Rome’s claims to universal domination.

Dr Damian Bracken’s research focuses on Hiberno-Latin literature, especially on the works of St Columbanus, the earliest Irish writer to leave an identifiable corpus of writings, and the first to explore Irish identity. He is interested particularly in exploring Columbanus’s works in the context of late antique and early medieval ideals of authority and concepts of orthodoxy. He has taught in the School of History, UCC, and spent periods teaching in the Department of History, Boston University, and the in Department of History, Boston College, where he held the Brian P. Burns Chair in Irish Studies. He jointly edited Ireland and Europe in the twelfth century: reform and renewal (Dublin 2006) and the commentary volume that accompanies the facsimile of the Schaffhausen Adomnán in the series Irish Manuscripts in Facsimile. 

This lecture complements the exhibition Ireland and the birth of Europe hosted by the Royal Irish Academy Library which runs from 11 September to 20 October. Researched, written and curated by Dr Damian Bracken, University College Cork, and Dr Angela Byrne for the Department of Foreign Affairs, the exhibition tells the story of the part played by Irish scholars and missionaries in the early history of the European idea.

(Image credit: St Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 602, p. 33 – Vitae of German saints)


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