Lacey (Brian)

  • s. xx–xxi
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Lacey, Brian, “Tory Island and Mount Errigal: landscape surrogates in Donegal for the gods Balor and Lug”, in: Emily Lyle (ed.), Celtic myth in the 21st century: the gods and their stories in a global perspective, Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2018. 43–49.
Lacey, Brian, Medieval and monastic Derry: sixth century to 1600, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2013. 176 pp.  
According to legend, Derry originated as a monastery founded by St Columba/Colum Cille. That story was almost certainly a later rationalization and simplification of a complex reality arising from Derry’s capture from the Cenél nÉnnai kingdom in the late 6th century by the saint’s people, the powerful Cenél Conaill. By the 9th century, Derry was in the hands of the latter’s conquering enemies – Cenél nEógain of Inishowen. They further developed the Columban legend for propaganda purposes. In the 12th century, under the dynamic Mac Lochlainn kings, the enlarged settlement at Derry became a centre of significant political and cultural influence and the headquarters of the Columban churches in Ireland. Later – with the defeat of the Mac Lochlainns – Derry too declined. It would enjoy a brief revival in later medieval times under the O’Donnells, who also harnessed the Columban legend. The settlement was captured by the English in 1600, however, bringing about the end of its Gaelic identity. Lacey has been writing about medieval Derry since the 1980s; in this book, he revisits those studies – revising and augmenting them, examining previously little-used sources and emphasizing Derry’s changing fortunes in the contexts of contemporary secular politics.
Lacey, Brian, Saint Columba: his life and legacy, Dublin: The Columba Press, 2013.  
Saint Colum Cille, also known from the Latin form of his name as Columba, was probably born in Donegal in ad 520 and died on Iona on 9 June – most likely in the year 593. His memory has been kept alive for almost a millennium and a half through folklore and literature, music and song, poetry and sculpture, manuscript-making and metalwork, history and archaeology.

Saint Columba His Life and Legacy is a comprehensive examination of the saint’s life in so far as we can know it, and a survey of the cult and traditions that developed subsequently; it also gives an outline of the enormous cultural legacy associated with the saint’s name. It covers material from Ireland, Scotland, the north of England, and the continent (including Scandinavia) and combines some archaeology, art history and folklore with the richer documentary material.

Dr Brian Lacey deals with an actual historical person, distinguishing him from the wonderfully complex but fictional character of the stories that have developed over the last fourteen centuries. He traces the evolution and effects of the monastic institution stemming from the saint’s main foundation on Iona – probably founded around 562 – as these spread throughout Ireland, Scotland and the north of England, with cultural and other influences reaching further to the continent. The extraordinary literary and artistic achievements of the Columban communities, of which the summa is the Book of Kells, are put in context, and the way in which Colum Cille’s memory has been invoked in the centuries since the middle ages is examined.
(source: Columba Press)
Lacey, Brian, Lug’s forgotten Donegal kingdom: the archaeology, history and folklore of the Síl Lugdach of Cloghaneely, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2012.  
Using archaeology, history, place-names, mythology and folklore, this book examines one of the smallest territorial units in Ireland from the beginning of history c.600, and traces its development to c.1100. It argues that these people from a remote area of Donegal constituted a tiny kingdom that had an ongoing association with the pagan god Lug – Lugh Lámhfhada. The book demonstrates how their original devotion to Lug was transmuted through conversion to Christianity, reconstituted in aspects of the cult of St Colum Cille and of a probably invented local saint – Beaglaoch. From c.725, their territory and influence were expanding – eventually giving rise to the powerful O’Donnell and O’Doherty families of the later Middle Ages. This illustrated book makes the Donegal landscape itself speak in a revealing manner, and offers a unique insight into wider early medieval history and religious culture.
Lacey, Brian, “Monster and monastery: St Kevin’s Lives and the expansion of Glendalough”, in: Charles Doherty, Linda Doran, and Mary Kelly (eds), Glendalough: City of God, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2011. 165–174.
Lacey, Brian, “Three ‘royal sites’ in Co. Donegal”, in: Roseanne Schot, Conor Newman, and Edel Bhreathnach (eds), Landscapes of cult and kingship, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2011. 149–162.
Lacey, Brian, “Adomnán and Donegal”, in: Rodney Aist, Thomas Owen Clancy, Thomas OʼLoughlin, and Jonathan M. Wooding (eds), Adomnán of Iona: theologian, lawmaker, peacemaker, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2010. 20–35.
Lacey, Brian, “A survival of Lug’s cult in West Donegal”, in: Stefan Zimmer (ed.), Kelten am Rhein: Akten des dreizehnten Internationalen Keltologiekongresses, 23. bis 27. Juli 2007 in Bonn, 2 vols, vol. 2: Philologie: Sprachen und Literaturen, Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 2009. 135–138.
Lacey, Brian, “Fahan, Tory, Cenél nÉogain and the Picts”, Peritia 20 (2008): 331–345.
Lacey, Brian, “Derry, the Cenél Conaill and Cenél nEógain”, in: Marion Meek (ed.), The modern traveller to our past: Festschrift in honour of Ann Hamlin, DPK, 2006. 65–69.
Lacey, Brian, Cenél Conaill and the Donegal kingdoms, AD 500–800, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2006.
Lacey, Brian, “The Amra Choluimb Cille and the Uí Néill”, Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland 134 (2004): 169–172.
Lacey, Brian, “The battle of Cúl Dreimne — a reassessment”, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 133 (2003): 76–85.
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Lacey, Brian, “Ann Hamlin (born 29 July 1940; died 5 June 2003)”, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 133 (2003): 190–191.
Lacey, Brian, “The Grianán of Aileach — a note on its identification”, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 131 (2001): 145–149.
Lacey, Brian [ed.], The life of Colum Cille, by Manus O’Donnell, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1998.
Lacey, Brian, Colum Cille and the Columban tradition, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1997.
Lacey, Brian, “The Grianán of Aileach”, Donegal Annual 36 (1984): 5–24.  
comments: Note that Brian Lacey has revised his conclusions concerning the identification of Ailech in later publications.
Lacey, Brian [et al.], Archaeological survey of County Donegal: a description of the field antiquities of the county from the Mesolithic Period to the 17th century, Lifford: Donegal County Council, 1983.


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