Otoole (or Tuathal), Laurence
O'Toole (Or Tuathal), Laurence, an eminent Irish prelate, belonged to the princely sept of the Hy Murrays of Leinster, in which province he was born in 1134. He was educated in the monastery of Glendolough, one of whose seven ancient churches still remains. He was very pious in early youth, and at the age of twenty-five was chosen a bishop; the duties of the office were almost literally forced upon him. Afterwards he became the abbot of the above monastery, and in 1162 he was elected archbishop of Dublin, a position which he readily accepted, that he might the more easily distribute the available funds of the diocese to the poor. He was consecrated by Gelasius, the Irish bishop of Armagh, who Leland says refused to attend the Roman Catholic council in Cashel. Grienne, his predecessor, and three other Dano-Irish bishops before him, had been ordained by the archbishops of Canterbury, to whom they had severally promised "canonical. obedience." With O'Toole the foreign consecrations of the Dublin bishops ceased. He was the first archbishop ever consecrated in Ireland (comp. Usher, Religion of the Early Irish, vol. 4; Ware, Irish Antiq. 1:312). O'Toole was a prominent member in the national council at Clane, called by Roderick, the last Irish king. At this meeting the school or monastery of Armagh was raised to the rank of a university, and a rule was passed that no one should be received as a lector or theological professor unless he had graduated in this university. In this and several other instances we perceive the-efforts which were then made to introduce Romish doctrines into the Irish Church, and to bring the "diverse and schismatical usages," of which Guillebertus, the pope's legate, had spoken, to "the one Catholic and Roman office." O'Toole was a true patriot. When the treachery of MacMorrough was developed, and the English invasion had become evident, he took a decided stand for his country. After several fruitless efforts to adjust matters, he risked his life between the conflicting parties to prevent the massacres of the people. In 1171, during a serious division among the English, he conceived the idea of arousing the whole nation, and of driving all the foreigners at once out of the island. For this purpose he went from province to province, addressing the nobles and common people, and urging them to arise simultaneously, and to meet in Dublin. He was so far successful as to collect a great number of untrained and unorganized men, but king Roderick and his chieftains at that time were unequal to the hour, and through their jealousies, indolence, and self-confidence the golden moment was passed, and all was lost. In 1175 he was sent to England to sign articles of arrangement between Roderick and Henry, which then amounted simply to an acknowledgment of the latter as feudal lord, without any reference to the soil or internal government. In 1179 O'Toole set out for Rome, no doubt to present the oppression of Ireland; but in passing through England Henry would not let him proceed unless he would take an oath not to do or say anything in Rome that would be contrary to his interests in Ireland. This oath, however, he is accused of not having kept. Again, in 1180, he was sent by Roderick to England; but Henry refused to see him, to hear his message, or to allow him to go back to Ireland, and, to end the whole matter, the king set out immediately for Normandy. O'Toole, however, being determined to get a hearing, soon followed him. But on reaching Eu, or Augum, in France, he was taken sick and died — some say of poison (Ware, Irish Antiq.). At all events the king was glad to get rid of him. When about to 'die he was asked to make his will, to which he replied, "The Lord knows I have not a hap'urth [a penny] on earth that is my own." He was canonized in the Church of Rome by pope Honorius III in 1225. Laurence O'Toole lived in eventful and perilous times. From the general history of this period there must have been strife and controversies going On between the old Irish Church, founded seven hundred years before by St. Patrick, and the new hierarchy which the bishops of Rome were then establishing in Ireland. But on which side he was cannot be easily determined. We only know that politically and nationally he was opposed to the English and Romanizing party. At this period, and for centuries afterwards, all the materials of history were exclusively in the keeping of Rome and England, and they are not known to publish anything against themselves. Tradition says there was found among his books in Dublin a copy of the New Testament in the Irish language, although there is no documentary testimony for it, since between the Danes and the Anglo- Saxons all such testimony seems to have been destroyed. Geraldus who was historiographer to the invading army of Henry, very coolly says that in his time "man old and precious manuscripts were torn up by the boys for book-covers, and were used by tailors for measurements" — (inter pueros in ludiis literariis ad librorum sittibus, et inter snatores ad lasernias pro vestium forma dimetiendi, in Moore's Hist. of Ireland, Am. ed. p. 154).
The same destruction seems to have been continued down to the time of James II of England, for it appears to have been the policy of the first English invaders of Ireland, as a means of preserving their own authority, to efface as far as possible from the memory of the people every trace of their former nationality and the independence of their Church. See Todd, Ancient Irish Church, p. 133 sq.; De Vinne, History of the Irish Primitive Church. (D. D.)