Taboos and Penitence

Christian Conversion and Popular Religion in Ireland between the 6th and 8th centuries (completed project)

The aim of this project was to analyse the Irish conversion process to Christianity during the Early Middle Ages through a documentary corpus, the Irish Penitentials, which are little books listing sins and assigning penance, written for the use of confessors. Through these texts it is possible to identify what was persecuted, tolerated, accepted, obeyed and disobeyed by the Church and the Christians. Therefore the focus of this study was the product of this process of conversion which elaborated a particular Irish popular religion, resultant of the fusion of the incoming Christian precepts and the Irish pre-Christian ones, which became shared by all, clergy and lay.

Keywords: Taboo, penance, penitentials, Ireland, conversion, popular religion.

Research team: 

Dr Elaine Pereira Farrell, UCD School of History & UCD Humanities Institute, (former PhD candidate in this project)
Dr Elva Johnston, UCD School of History, (mentor)

Funding Information: Funded by the former Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences Postgraduate Scholarship (now Irish Research Council).