One of the most important cultural dynamics of the early Middle Ages was supplied by the Irish (and later English) religious men and women who travelled to the continent. There, they set up new foundations, joined existing ones, taught, brought and copied books, and so forth. Irish learning may or may not have ‘saved civilization‘ in the West, but it certainly played a big role in driving and shaping knowledge. It was even crucial to developing early medieval science through the rigours of mathematics, astronomy and reason, as Immo
Warntjes and others will tell you. There were clever people who weren’t Bede out there, you know.
Now – hurray! – Galway have been able to launch the ‘Foundations of Irish Culture‘, under the direction of Dáibhí Ó Cróinín. The website provides a handy guide to early Irish manuscripts on the continent, including manuscripts copied abroad by or under the influence of Irishmen. It is not exhausitive and not intended to be so, but if you ever want a way into studying insular influence on early medieval Europe, this will be a useful place to start. There’s even a ‘map’ feature, so you can be intimidated at / inspired by how much travelling was involved, and how much still is if you want to work on the manuscripts properly.