GELASIUS or GILLA MAC LIAG (1087–1173), coarb of Armagh and primate of Ireland, is termed son or more correctly grandson of Rudhraidhe, and also, son of the poet, his father having been poet of the Hy Briuin of Connaught. In 1121 he was erenach, or hereditary warden, of Derry, and he is also termed coarb, or successor, of Colum Cille. During his tenure of these offices Armagh was the subject of frequent intrigues for the introduction of the organisation of the Roman church (see the learned Memoir introductory to the Early History of the Primacy of Armagh, by the Rev. Robert King). Malachy O'Morgair was forcibly installed as primate, but failed to get possession of Armagh, or of the credentials of the coarb, and retired to the bishopric of Down after nominating Gelasius as his successor. Gelasius had supported his views, and was acceptable to the advocates of the old order from his position at Derry, which had always been closely associated with Armagh. He was accordingly elected, and in 1137 became coarb of St. Patrick. The claim of Armagh to supremacy had long been acknowledged, but its jurisdiction in the modern sense was not yet established. To promote this object Gelasius in 1138 carried out a visitation of Munster, and obtained his ‘full tribute.’ Two years later he received ‘a liberal tribute’ in Connaught, and secured the adhesion of King Turlough to the new church regulations. In Tyrone he received a cow from each house belonging to a biatach or free-man, a horse from every chieftain, and twenty cows from the king himself.
The Irish churches had hitherto been generally of wood, but Gelasius, following the example of Malachy in building with stone, prepared for the work by erecting a large kiln, sixty feet in length on each side, ‘opposite the Navan fort on the west side of Armagh.’ The entry of this fact in the ‘Annals of the Four Masters’ shows the novelty of stone building in those days. In 1151 Cardinal Paparon arrived in Ireland, bringing with him four palls which had been formally applied for in the synod of Inispatrick in 1148. At the synod of Kells, held in the following year, Gelasius was present, but Cardinal Paparon and the legate Christian of Lismore took the precedence. Two additional archbishoprics (Tuam and Dublin) were constituted, and the palls were duly conferred on Gelasius and the others. The ‘Four Masters’ do not mention the palls, and there seems to have been a strong party opposed to these innovations, as well as to the establishment of the new archbishoprics.
Another synod was held at Drogheda in 1157, when Gelasius, with the papal legate, seventeen bishops, and four kings, assembled to consecrate the church built at Mellifont, in the county of Louth, by the Cistercians, lately introduced by St. Bernard from Clairvaux. One king presented 140 cows and sixty ounces of gold, and two others gave the same quantity of gold, one of them adding a golden chalice.
Gelasius subsequently called a synod at Clane, co. Kildare, at which twenty-six bishops were present, when it was enacted that no one should hold the office of lector who had not been trained at Armagh; the object being to promote uniformity of doctrine and discipline throughout Ireland. The most important synod held in Ireland during his time was that of Cashel in 1172, presided over by the papal legate, and attended by the commissioners of Henry II, who subscribed its decrees. It was ordered that the Irish church should observe uniformity with the church of England ‘according to the use, custom, rite, and ceremony of the church of Salisbury,’ and the payment of tithes was for the first time made compulsory. Gelasius, now in his eighty-fifth year, was too infirm to attend, but, according to Cambrensis, gave his assent to all that was done. He died in 1173. His piety is praised by the ‘Four Masters,’ and the simplicity of his life appears from the story related by Cambrensis that ‘it was his custom to take with him, whithersoever he went, a white cow, the milk of which formed his only sustenance.’ He has been sometimes called the first archbishop of Armagh, as being the first who had the pall.
[Annals of the Four Masters, 1137–73; King's Memoir of the Primacy of Armagh; Petrie's Round Towers, p. 305; Lanigan's Eccles. Hist. iv. 102–3.]
GELDART, EDMUND MARTIN (1844–1885), unitarian minister, second son of Thomas Geldart, sometime of Thorpe, near Norwich, and his wife, Hannah Ransome Geldart, author of a number of popular religious books for children (who died in 1861, aged 41), was born at Norwich on 20 Jan. 1844. He went for a short time to Merchant Taylors' School. When he was twelve years old his father, having undertaken the superintendence of the Manchester City Mission, removed from London to Bowdon, Cheshire, and Geldart was sent to a private school kept by a clergyman at Timperley. He now developed a taste for entomology, and projected and, along with his young friends Thomas and J. B. Blackburn, edited a periodical entitled ‘The Weekly Entomologist,’ published at twopence a number from August 1862 to