According to one historian, the observant movement, initiated in this way, was adopted in other Augustinian houses in the country. This example was also adopted by the Dominicans and Franciscans, and put new life into the Irish Church.
The adoption of the observant or strict way of Augustinian life did not of itself save the Order in Ireland. After all, Martin Luther was a member of the observant congregation of Saxony before he rejected the authority of the pope and went his own way.
In Ireland itself the Augustinian Vicar Provincial, Richard Nangle, an observant, abandoned the Order in the early 1530s even before the suppression of the Irish houses by the English Crown.
But individual defections, even by men who at one time held high office in the order such as George Browne and Richard Nangle, did not significantly diminish the witness of the Irish observant Augustinians, who neither threat nor inducement could compel to disown their Augustinian religious profession.
In the first half of the fifteenth century, therefore, the Augustinian situation in Ireland had changed dramatically. Between 1413 and 1500 all eight new Augustinian houses founded were located in a cluster within Gaelic areas towards the west of Ireland (see map on the third page).
The victory of the Gaelic element was signalled in 1547 when Hugh O'Malley O.S.A., the first superior of the convento at Murrisk, was appointed Vicar Provincial of the Augustinians in Ireland by the Augustinian Prior General.
(Continued on the next page.)
Photos (at right).
Picture 1: Ruin of Augustinian Friary at Banada, Co. Sligo.
Picture 2: Ruin of Augustinian Friary at Murrisk, Co. Sligo.
Picture 3: Section of ruined “Red Abbey” Augustinian Friary at Cork, Ireland.
There is a book on this subject written by Michael Benedict Hackett O.S.A., who died in April 2005: A Presence in the Age of Turmoil: English, Irish and Scottish Augustinians in the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. It was published in 2002 by the Augustinian Historical Institute, Villanova University, Pennsylvania 19085, United States of America. ISBN 1-889543-27-X. 134 pages.
The Irish Augustinian Friaries in pre-Reformation Ireland. By F. X. Martin O.S.A. Augustiniana (6), April 1956: Augustinian Historical Institute of Louvain. pp 346-384.
Medieval Augustinian Foundations in Britain and Ireland. By David Kelly O.S.A. Analecta Augustiniana (LXX, 2007), Institutum Historicum Ord. S. Augstini, Rome, pp 187-204