David Obuge Early 14th Century

I have found numerous references to a man by the name of David Obuge in the early 14th century. He was a provincial of the Carmelite Order of Friars in Ireland and is associated with Grey Abbey in Kildare town. At the beginning of the 14th century the English Carmelite province also had jurisdiction over Ireland. The decision was taken to create a separate provincial for Ireland in 1303, with Obuge being one of those who was against this decision. For his punishment he was told to leave Ireland and was either sent to Italy or Trier in Germany for a number of years to teach.[1] Obuge made his way back to Ireland and was made provincial of the Irish province until his death, sometime around the year 1327.[2]

Smith writes that Obuge had a son with the wife of a William O’Kelly, who was an influential merchant in Drogheda, Co. Louth, in the 14th century. Obuge’s son, Ralph O’Kelly (Radulphus Ua Ceallaigh), went on to become archbishop of Cashel from 1346-61.[3] It is said that Obuge is also buried in Kildare.[4]

Obuge is said to have been a most scholarly and knowledgeable man and is characterised as the “gem and lantern on Ireland’ (see passage below) because of this. In his 17th century publication De scriptoribus Hibernaie (Dublin, 1639) Sir James Ware outlines what he is said to have written, including legal precepts, biblical commentaries, letters and lectures.[5] Unfortunately none of Obuge’s writings seem to have survived.

The name Obuge is worthy of investigation as it is listed under the name O Bogaig, along with Buggy, in Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall by Rev. Patrick Woulfe.[6] As previous shown, Buge appeared a number of times in The Domesday Book and appears in various publications referring to people and events in the 15th and 16th century. Magnus Buge, Rector of Orlick in Scotland in 1455[7] and Beatrice Buge, among many, in Kirk, Scotland in 1560[8] are just two examples.

One of the first comprehensive accounts of David Obuge is in a book written in 1586, The Second Volume of Chronicles Conteining [sic] the Description, Conquest, Inhabitation and Troublesome Estate of Ireland by Raphaell Holinshed. A passage from the end of pages 62 and top of page 63 reads:

Part of this text has been modernised in The Making of Ireland and It’s Undoing 1200-1600 by Alice Stopford Green:

“David Obuge was born in the town of Kildare, for his learned lectures and subtle disputations openly published in Oxford and Treves in Germany. He was taken for the gem and lantern of his country. In his time Giraldus Bononiensis being master general of the Carmelites was at iar [war?] with William Lidlington, the provincial of all the English Carmelites. Whereupon ten of the wisest and learnedest Carmelites that were then resiant in England, being fully elected to resist their general, Obuge was chosen to be the foreman of all the said crew. Giraldus Bononiensis understanding that he being an Irishman was so hot in the controversy, was eager bent against Obuge, because he assured himself to have had favour at his hands by reason Obuge was born in that country where the Giraldines his kinsmen were planted, and thereupon he was banished Italy. This storm in process of time being appeased, the outcome Carmelite was made the general guardian of all his fraternity in Ireland: which country by his continual teaching and preaching was greatly edified.” [9]

This name, Obuge/O’Buge/Buge, seems to be no longer in existence in Ireland today. In fact there was no record of the name in the 1911 census, 1901 census or Griffith’s Valuation. So far, I have not been able to find a record of any other person in Ireland with the name.


[1] O’Dwyer, P. (1969) The Carmelite Order in Pre-Reformation Ireland in Carmelus Volume XVI p.4 . Available at: http://www.carmelites.ie/PDF/PrereformationIreland.pdf Accessed March 18th 2010

[2] Ibid, p.7

[3]Smith, B. (1999) Colonisation and conquest in Medieval Ireland: The English in Louth, 1170-1330. Cambridge: CUP. p.75.

[4]http://www.kildare.ie/greyabbey/archives/2006/12/the_white_abbey.asp Accessed March 18th 2010

[5] Scott, A.B. (2005) Latin Learning and Literature in Ireland 1169-1500 in A New History of Ireland: Prehistory and Early Ireland.  Ed Daibhi O Croinin pp.934-995. p.947.

[6] Ibid. p.439

[7] Henderson, J. (1884) Caithness Family History. Edinburgh: David Douglas. p.183

[8] Scottish History Society (1889) Publications of the Scottish History Society Volume IV. Edinburgh. p.31

[9] Ibid. pp. 244-245

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