Trinity Plays Key Role in Marking 750th Anniversary of First Recorded Parliament in Ireland

Posted on: 27 June 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014, marked the 750th anniversary of the first documented sitting of an administrative gathering to call itself a parliament in Ireland of which an original contemporaneous manuscript record remains accessible. This gathering calling itself a parliament which is understood to have met in Castledermot in Kildare on 18 June 1264 predates the English parliament which marks its 750th anniversary next year.

Recently the research of Assistant Professor Paul Horan of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin brought this historic anniversary to public awareness in radio broadcasts, a publication in the May/June edition of History Ireland and a conference presentation at The History Ireland Festival 2014. Kildare County Council also held an out of chamber council meeting in March in Castledermot to mark the occasion.

Assistant Professor Horan was also instrumental in lobbying members of the Oireachtas to mark this historic juncture in Irish parliamentary democracy. Members of the Oireachtas marked the 750th anniversary of the “first recorded Irish parliament” with a debate in the Seanad on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014. Labour Senator and Trinity Fellow Ivana Bacik proposed the debate which was addressed by the Minister of Arts and Heritage Jimmy Deenihan, T.D. Senator Bacik paid “tribute to members of the Castledermot Historical Society and Assistant Professor Horan from Trinity College who brought the historical date to her attention”.

Senator Ivana Bacik; Joseph Kavanagh, YADA Ireland; Dr Sandrine Brisset, Assistant Professor Paul Horan, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity; Maureen Kelly nee Horan; Professor Sarah Alynstacey, Director of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Trinity; Olivia English Kissane; Dr Sharon Greene (Castledermot Historical Society); Dr Gerald Morgan, The Chaucer Hub; Senator Sean Barret

The Latin record of this earliest parliamentary sittings was first brought to Assistant Professor Horan’s attention by Dr Peter Crooks who curates Trinity College’s digital medieval manuscript resource which is available at This wonderful resource contains many of the known Irish chancery rolls during the Middle Ages (1244–1509) drawing on sources in archival repositories in The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and the USA. The site contains over 20,000 Irish records translated from Latin into English, together with an unparalleled collection of digital images of surviving medieval chancery letters and rare printed volumes.

Folio 63 of Alani Registerum (Bishop Alen's Register), the transcribed record of the first recorded parliament in Ireland at Castledermot in 1264. (Reproduced with permission of Representative Church Body Library).

The actual original contemporaneous manuscript folio records of this earliest of recorded parliamentary sittings in Ireland unearthed by Assistant Prof Horan are contained in the Liber Niger and in its Tudor version the Aleni Registerum and are both contained in The Representative Church Body Library in Dublin. The original manuscript of the record of this historic parliamentary gathering is contained in the Liber Niger – The Black Book of Christchurch which is often on display in the Treasury in the Crypt of Christchurch Cathedral.

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