Lecture by Colmán Ó Clabaigh 

Friday 24th November 2023 at 8pm

Sligo Education Centre (on ATU Sligo Campus)

For medieval Christians, death and its rituals were an abiding preoccupation. The ideal was the bona mors – a good death, in which the soul, fortified by the prayers and Last Rites of the church, escaped the last assaults of the devil and passed to eternal bliss at peace with its neighbours and reconciled with its enemies. This paper examines how people prepared for death in medieval Ireland. Drawing on recent archaeological excavations and on written sources from both Gaelic and Anglo-Irish contexts, it shows how medieval Irish men and women faced their own mortality, buried and commemorated their loved ones and how they perceived the fate that awaited them in the afterlife. The role of ghosts, otherworldly journeys and the treatment of those who died as outcasts receive particular attention and provide illuminating insights on a complex and fascinating topic.


Colmán Ó Clabaigh is a monk of Glenstal Abbey and is a specialist in the monastic and religious history of medieval Ireland. His book The Friars in Ireland, 1224–1540 (Dublin, 2012) was awarded the NUI Prize for Irish Historical Research in 2013. Recent publications include chapters in The Cambridge History of Ireland (2018) and The Cambridge History of Monasticism in the Medieval Latin West (2020). He recently co-edited Brides of Christ: Women and Monasticism in Medieval and Early Modern Ireland (Dublin, 2023) and is currently researching the impact of religious belief and practice on Irish society between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries.