Several good surveys of the complex history of the Celtic Christian tradition are available. The liveliest and best is probably Thomas Cahill's unashamedly partisan How The Irish Saved Civilization (Double day, 1995). Another good general introduction is Ian C. Bradley's The Celtic Way (Darton, Longman and Todd, 1993; for books by U.K. publishers such as Darton, visit various Web sites, including,, and

An essential guide to all such popular histories, which tend to be uncritically enthusiastic, is Ian Bradley's more recent Celtic Christianity: Making Myths and Chasing Dreams (St. Martin's, 1999). Another particularly insightful work is Philip Sheldrake's Living Between Worlds: Place and Journey in Celtic Spirituality (Cowley, 1995). Sheldrake does not so much retell the historical story as use it to explore the paradoxical Celtic passion both for pilgrimage (perigrinatio, a kind of holy wandering) and an attachment to a local place.

Many collections of prayers draw heavily on Carmina Gadelica, edited by Alexander Carmichael (Floris Books, 1994; also Lindisfarne Books, 1992). This unique compendium of oral tradition, collected in the nineteenth century and originally published in five volumes, includes both pagan and Christian material, and a great wealth of accompanying cultural notes. Most anthologies of Celtic Christian spirituality either borrow from or imitate this material, so it is good to know as a source.

An excellent, briefer—but much broader—anthology from the whole range of material is Celtic Christian Spirituality: An Anthology of Medieval and Modern Sources by Oliver Davies and Fiona Bowie (Continuum, 1995). This important collection draws not only on ...

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