I gleaned the following about the Ce/li De/ or Culdees ("Companions of God")
The were an eighth century reform move which was begun by St. Ma/elruain,
the founder of Tallaght monastery (nr. Dublin.) They were a reaction
against the worldly conduct, wealth and warfare which had begun to
characterize the older monasteries, i.e. --
Armagh, Clonmacnoise, Durrow, Kildare, etc.
Only a few specifically Ce/li De/ monasteries were ever founded. The reform
was passive, seeking to impress by example only those who wished to be
reformed. Simplicity and asceticism were their hallmarks, and especial
attention was paid to a revival of clerical chastity. Ma/lruain thought
that a person who ate to much and too well increased his blood supply which
lead to "excited desires." St. Molasius prescribed a miniscule diet for
his sister, Copar, "upon whom desire lay heavy." When she returned to him
at the end of a year, complaining that her situation was no better he thrust
a needle into her hand three times and three streams of blood came out. He
blamed her unrelieved state on these "strong currents." She was prescribed
a smaller diet and this continued for three years until when the needle test
was applied she at last bled not at all. Her pious brother then recommeded
that she remain on a starvation diet for the rest of her life (which
probably was not far in the future, I would think!)
Privy houses and urine houses were considered places where one might be
sorely tempted. The greater proportion of Ce/li De/ writings, not
unsurprisingly, were devoted to the aftermath of sin. Most of these
involved specific penalties for specific sins, prayers and fasting for the
most part. However, evidently vigils were popular -- standing with arms
outstreched in imitation of the crucifixion while chanting; also hundred of
geneflections while in the same posture were performed.
While they became well-known their reform was too independent and passive
and its end result was the production of mountains of penitential manual and
lurid prohibitions. Also their recommendations may have simply had no
appeal to the traditional monasteries. In 824 the monastery of Kildare
attacked Tallaght destroyed it and carried off booty and leaving many dead
behind. Clearly Kildare was not impressed with the Companions of God.
In the 8th and 9th centuries the appellation di/sert for a religious
settlement, "a place apart", often indicated a Ce/li De/ establishment.
Skellig Mi/cha/el in its latest stage of occupation may have had Ce/li De/
This information comes from "The Road Wet, the Wind Close". James Charles
Roy. Chester, Pa.: Dufour, 1986. "The Archeology of Early Medieval
Ireland." Nancy Edwards. Philadelphia: University of Penn. Press, 1990.
If you have access to the Gill History of Ireland series one of the early
volumes in the series devotes a lot of discussion to the Ce/li De/, as I recall.