A history of women in the early Irish church has never before been written, despite perennial interest in the early Christianity of Celtic areas, and indeed the increasing interest in gender and spirituality generally. This book covers the development of women's religious professions in theprimitive church in St Patrick's era and the development of large women's monasteries such as Kildare, Clonbroney, Cloonburren, and Killeedy. It traces its subject through the heyday of the seventh century, through the Viking era, and the Culdee reforms, to the era of the Europeanization of thetwelfth century. The place of women and their establishments is considered against the wider Irish background and compared with female religiosity elsewhere in early medieval Europe. The author demonstrates that while Ireland was distinct it was still very much part of the wider world of WesternChristendom, and it must be appreciated as such. Grounded in the primary material of the period the book places in the foreground many largely unknown Irish texts in order to bring them to the attention of scholars in related fields. Throughout the study the author notes widespread ideas about Celtic women, pagan priestesses, and Saint Brigit,considering how these perceptions came about in light of the texts and historiographical traditions of the previous centuries.