The year is 1310. Ireland was gripped by a severe economic, military and political crisis – pretty much everything that could go wrong had gone wrong for the Norman colonists. In October of that year, a man called Jordan the Chaplain made his way to Drogheda, a major port in medieval Ireland. However not long after arriving he got involved in a dispute with one of the townspeople – Robert the Tailor. What started as a fraca in a tavern, quickly escalated begining a fascinating story which ended in a murder, producing strange and unexpected reactions in the divided and crisis ridden Drogheda.
This podcast is a little different that many of the previous episodes. In this story, I attempt to explain how a major crisis in Ireland in the 14th century affected two ordinary people who lived in these trying times. Through this story of murder and unexpected solidarity the podcast explains why such what were seemingly minor events were indicative of much bigger changes underway in medieval Ireland. It is a bit of an experiment so I would appreciate feedback – whether you enjoyed the show and whether agree with my argument or disagree, mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am delighted to announce my book Witches Spies and Stockholm Syndrome, Life in Medieval Ireland is hitting the shops in the coming days. Focusing on medieval Ireland; the book unveils a world that often occupies somewhere between history and fantasy in our minds eye. It was unquestionably a strange world but one far from the stereotypical chivalry of romantic literature.
In Witches Spies and Stockholm Syndrome I step away from the usual narrative of medieval history where the story of our ancestors is too often told through the lives of a few important men.
Alternatively the book focuses on this world as it was known to the people of the time. From surviving documents, a uniquely intimate portrait of the people and their world, so often clouded behind stereotype and myth, is unveiled. Stories include
John Cachfrens, a man whose only interaction with history was his involvement in a fatal tavern fight in Dublin in 1310.
Margaret Russell, a wealthy woman whose life was turned upside down when she was abducted by the notorious le Poer family in 1311.
James of Ireland a monk who travelled to China around 1320.
The Riccardi of Lucca, one of the most powerful Italian banking houses and how it came to pass that their agents were on the run in Ireland after a murder in Clonmel in the early 14th century.
Basilia Don a woman whose affair with Stephen le Clerk had drastic consequences for all involved.
John McCorcan, one of the earliest people recorded playing football in Ireland.
Maurice de Caunteton, Norman aristocrat who led a revolt in Wexford in 1309.
John Clyn, a Franciscan friar who lived during the Black Death in Kilkenny.
Although this world is now our distant past it is brought vividly to life in a warts and all portrayal in this book. Across the twenty-two chapters the book presents a vibrant picture of everyday medieval life from the exotic to the toxic; from the succulent delicacies prepared for the elites to the often dangerous food the poor bought at stalls in food markets. Through an easily accessible style the book is suitable for general audiences whether you have an in-depth knowledge of the period or are just curious about our distant past.
How to get your copy?
The book will appear in all major bookshops across Ireland in the coming days.
Finally, if you want to purchase a signed copy online I have an extremely limited number available. These will include a message of your choosing and will make an ideal gift for Christmas. These can be purchased by contacting me directly at the form below. These will cost the standard price of €19.99 (excluding post and packaging).
This show returns to the story of Gaelic Ireland in the final decades prior to the Norman Invasion. Ireland is being torn apart by long running tensions between the kings of Munster and Ulster. The show begins in 1101 with Donal McLochlainn the king of the O’Neills on his knees. His great rival Muirchertach O’Briain, the king of Munster had just invaded and ravaged his kingdom. However Donal is by no means finished; further war and bloodshed loom ahead. However for the people of medieval Ireland this is not the only problem they face as in 1102 the king of Norway Magnus Barelegs arrives threatening invasion! You can hear part one here
Ever heard moans and groans near the castle? Well they could be supernatural. In 1316, a convicted thief called Roger de Fynglas was sentenced to death by hanging, but for an unknown reason he was instead returned to a cell in Dublin Castle and condemned ‘there to stay without having food until he be dead’.
Abbey St. Dublin
The rattle of chains in the Abbey street area might be more than a bike thief! Abbey Street, Mary’s Street and Mary’s Abbey are all streets named after St Mary’s Cistercian Abbey which was located in this area through the later medieval period. In 1320 William Kedenor, a monk in the abbey went insane and murdered two fellow monks. Arrested and convicted of the crime, he was condemned to spend his life in chains imprisoned in the Abbey!
Four Courts Dublin
The pong off the river may actually be the ghost of Arnold le Poer’s decomposing body. In 1329 Le Poer died in Dublin Castle awaiting a trial for heresy. Due to this charge he was denied a burial. Instead his body was held in St. Saviour’s Dominican Priory (where the Four Courts stands today) for weeks before it was eventually buried.
The aromatic waft of takeaways on Dame Street might actually be the ghostly smell of roasting human flesh. At Easter 1328 Adam ‘Dubh’ O’Toole was burned at the stake, having been guilty of heresy. While most heresy charges were fantastical there is some evidence O’Toole may have been an actual heretic after denying the concept of the Holy Trinity and called Mary (the mother of Jesus Christ) a harlot!
These stories and much more feature in my upcoming book ‘Witches, Spies and Stockholm Syndrome, life In Medieval Ireland’ which will be released in coming weeks. Follow this blog on facebook and twitter for updates .
This podcast concludes our journey through the Top 5 turning points of Medieval Ireland. This show focuses on one of the most intriguing events of our medieval past, the Battle of Athenry in 1316. This conflict occured during one of the most fascinating wars in Irish history – the Bruce Invasion of 1315-18. In May 1315, a Scots army led by Edward Bruce, brother to the King of Scotland, invaded Ireland, so this podcast starts in Scotland, with none other than William Wallace a.k.a. Braveheart making an appearance.
Then it follows the Scots invasion of Ireland in a story of sieges, battles, deceit and even cannibalism! Although the war would last until 1318, the decisive turning point I argue occured beneath the walls of Athenry on the 10th of August 1316. While there was not a single Scot on this battlefield this particularly bloody affair decided their fate nonetheless. Tune in to see how!
This carving from Kilkea castle, Co. Kildare is among the strangest you’ll find in Ireland.
There are four figures – a rather excited dog to the left, then what appears to be two men, one with a boar’s head getting it on and finally there’s a bird of some description on the right. Strange to say the least…
What does it all symbolise? I haven’t a clue on this one – what do you think?
Suggestions on a postcard to…the comment box below…
Pic by Eve Campbell
Have you heard this weeks podcast on “The Top 5 turning points in Medieval Ireland?” Check it out here.
My book “Witches, Spies and Stockholm Syndrome, Life in Medieval Ireland” is coming out next month. It presents Medieval history in a uniquely engaging fashion. Over 22 chapters the book tells tales of food, war, violence and romance creating a picture of daily life in later Middle Ages. Often unusual and previously unpublished, these accounts make medieval Irish history accessible to a general audience. Follow this blog on facebook and twitter to receive more updates about the release date.
This episode is a whistlestop tour through medieval Ireland stopping off at battlefields along the way, taking a look at the key moments as I see them. This podcast will introduce some of the key characters from Irish history, some of whom are well known such as Strongbow and Brian Boru, others less well-known such as Flann Sinna and William ‘Liath de Burgh’. Part I starts in 908 at the long forgotten battle of Ballymoon and finishes at the siege of Dublin in 1171. Part II out next week will conclude the top 5.
Fin, for his sins, completed a degree in Greek and Roman Civilisation and Archaeology. After this he took a Masters in Archaeology. Miraculously he still likes history and archaeology, despite the best intentions of the education system. He spent a few years being used by shady developers in what is often called the 'archaeology industry' in Ireland. Now, not surprisingly given his qualifications he is among the 500,000 unemployed in Ireland. He recently was disappointed when the Irish government decided against hiring him as a adviser on the fall of the Roman republic but this music http://www.myspace.com/racketsquad cheers him up no end......