As mentioned in Part 1, our ecclesiastical families married and had children. Generation after generation, they provided an abundant supply of holy men, holy women, and scholars. They thereby staffed the church with priests, nuns, monks, abbesses, abbots, librarians, scribes, teachers, masters of canon and secular law, masters of classical learning, masters of Gaelic learning, administrators, builders, and more.
Some families did this for over a thousand years. When dispensation was needed from the Pope (and that need was constant) to seat an hereditary ecclesiastic in a parish, diocese, monastery or convent, he gladly gave it, recognizing Ireland's married clergy as a special condition of Irish Catholicism.
These families, together with the secular learned families, made Ireland the 'Isle of Saints and Scholars'. And, as is well-known, the ecclesiastical families emphasized classical learning more so than the secular learned families, and so are more responsible for saving Western civilization when the rest of Europe went dark.
I'm writing a book about these families. To learn more about them and about the sources for this kind of research, see my Indiegogo campaign here:
Are you descended from any of Ireland's hundreds of hereditary ecclesiastical families? If so, I'd love to hear the whole scoop - who, what, when, and where.
Le gach dea-ghuí / Best,
Gearóid / Jerry