Abstract: The Castles of Ireland

Lecturer: 

Castles can be defined as the seriously-defended residences of people of lordly (and later gentry) rank. It is clear that Ireland was one of the most castellated parts of Europe by c.1600 and, even after this date, castles continued to be built there, with the final ones being erected in the 1640s. This illustrated lecture will outline the main types of castle constructed and inhabited in Ireland from the 12th century down to the 17th century. The architecture, dating, and functions of these different types of castle will be outlined in the talk. The ethnicity of the inhabitants of these places will also be discussed in the lecture and the somewhat debated question of when native Irish (ie Gaelic Irish) lords adopted fortifications that contemporaries and modern scholars would regard as castles will be addressed too. Lastly, the lecturer will try to answer the question of why anything up to 8000 castles were built in Ireland throughout the later medieval period and up to the mid-17th century.

 

Short bibliography

McNeill, T. E. 1997 Castles in Ireland – Feudal Power in a Gaelic World. London and New York.

O’Conor, K. 2014 Castles. In R. Moss (ed.), Art and architecture of Ireland. Volume 1 – Medieval, c.400-c.1600 (Dublin and New Haven), pp 341-55. This article outlines the various types of stone castle seen in the Irish landscape.

O’Conor, K. 2014 Earth and timber fortifications. In R. Moss (ed.), Art and architecture of Ireland. Volume 1 – Medieval, c.400-c.1600 (Dublin and New Haven), pp 341-55. Parts of this article discuss the use of motte and ringwork castles in Ireland. Remember that ringforts, crannogs, promontory forts and moated sites are not considered to be castles.

O’Keeffe, T. 2015 Medieval Irish Buildings, 1100-1600, Dublin. Chapters 4 and 5 are the relevant chapters

Sweetman, D. 1999 Medieval Castles of Ireland. Dublin.

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