James F. Kenney (1884-1946)

Life
Fellow of Hist. Society; author of monumental work, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland: Ecclesiastical, An Introduction, Vol. I (1929), of which no second volume appeared; the work covers the period up to the Anglo-Norman invasion, 1170 a.d., dealing with ‘sources that have a character or associations predominantly ecclesiastical, and also with the references to Ireland that are found in the acnient writers of continental Europe and of Britain’; gives title, date, incipit and explicit of text, bibliographical note listing MSS and edns., major commentaries in books and periodicals, and a summary of the document’s character and significance along with results of critical study.

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Works
The Sources for the Early History of Ireland [2 vols.], of which Vol. 1, Ecclesiastical: An Introduction and Guide (Columbia UP 1929), 801pp.; and Do. [rep. edn.] (Dublin: Four Courts Press 1993), xviii, 815pp., ill. [maps], 25 cm. [see contents].

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Bibliograpical details

The Sources for the Early History of Ireland [2 vols.], of which Vol. 1, Ecclesiastical: An Introduction and Guide (Columbia UP 1929), 801pp.; rep. edn., produced by Padraig Ó Tailliúir, with a pref. by Ludwig Bieler (Tedavnet Ottawa 1996) [in fheile Padraig Ó Tailliúir agus James Kenney]; editor’s Forword by Austin P. Evans, p.vii. CONTENTS, 1. History of Ireland, General Bibliography, &c. [1]; II. Ireland in the Ancient World to about a.d. 700 [110]; III. The Irish Church in the Celtic Period [156]; IV. The Monastic Churches: The Founders and Traditions: Pt. 1, The Primitive Foundations [288]; V., Do., Pt. 2, Churches of the 6th to 9th Centuries, General Treatise [372]; VI. The Expansion of Irish Christiantiy from the 7th Century to the 12th Century [486]; VII. Religious Literature and Ecclesiastical Culture, 7th to 12th Centuries [622]; a] Biblical and Intellectual [623], b] Liturgical and Devotinal [683], c] Homelectical and Apocryphal Imagination [731]; VIII. The Reform Movement of the 12th Century [752]; Addenda [773]; Addenda 1966 [774-93]; Corrig. [795]; Index [799].

Reprint edn., The Sources for the early History of Ireland - Ecclesiastical: An Introduction and Guide [by] James F. Kenney [Celtic studies] (Dublin: Four Courts Press 1993), xviii, 815pp., ill. [maps], 25 cm.

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Quotations
The Sources for Early Irish Civilisation (1929): ‘[The mind of the Irish people] during the early Christian era was, fundamentally, the product of countless ages of paganism. The popular legends (of saints and hermits), moulded under a pagan or semi-pagan attitude of mind, contained a large amalgam of “magic” and “superstition,” those survivals of primitive religion. So far, therefore, as the acta sanctorum depend on popular legend they are, in some degree, records of primitive religious ideas and practices. Irish paganism seems to have consisted of a lower stratum, deep and wide, of magical belief and practice, and, superimposed thereon, an upper section of mythology. Myth and magic were ejected from their positions of supremacy by the coming of Christianity, but the evidence does not indicate that the sphere of operation of either was extensively diminished.’ (p.302; quoted in Seán O’Faolain, The Irish, 1947 edn., p.46.)

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The Sources for Early Irish Civilisation (1929): ‘The decisive reason for the dominance of monasticism in Ireland was, we may be sure, the enthusiasm with which the early Irish Christians embraced the coenobitical life and the ideals of asceticism; this it was that provided inmates, sometimes in their thousands, for all the monasteries and, as the spirit of asceticism grew, sent Irish anchorites to seek hermitages on the islands of the Irish and Scottish coasts or overseas in foreign lands.’ (Kenney, Sources for the Early History of Ireland, 293; O’Faolain, ibid., p.48.) [For his account of the Tripartite Life, see under St. Patrick, Commentary, infra.]

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Notes
Sean O’Faolain
remarks in The Irish (1947), Chap. 4 [‘Asceticism and Classicism]: ‘I am guided throughout this section mainly by Kenney’s Sources for the Early History of Ireland, Vol. 1 (NY 1929)’ - ftn. p.44; he quotes him extensively in the following pages, as in Quotations, supra.

Brian Keogh: The bibliographical description in Life [supra] has been supplied by Brian Keogh (bookseller).

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