In 1270 the battle of Ath-an-Chip saw a major Gaelic Army take on the forces of the powerful Norman Lord of Connacht Walter de Burgh on the upper reaches of the river Shannon. This decisive battle would shape the history of medieval Ireland in Connacht for decades if not centuries. To understand this fascinating battle we need to look at the life of Aodh O’Connor, the leader of the Gaelic Army. Aodh’s life had been spent resisting Norman incursions into O’Connor territory but in 1270 he faced the biggest test of his life at Ath-an-Chip. Listen to find out
Most of the podcasts I make focus on the darker aspects of medieval life. War is a common theme and famine is never far away. However in this podcast I am asking the question was life in medieval Ireland ever anything other than an endless struggle for survival. To start the show we look at the Vale of Dublin in 1326 when the region was almost an apocalyptic wasteland before turning the clock back to 1234 and taking a look at the region in its better days.
The weather in Ireland recently has been dire. The country has seen torrential rain, severe flooding and storms on an unprecedented scale in the last few months. This has left many people wondering what the future holds if this is the start of Climate Change taking effect.
Strangely we may find some clues as to what lies ahead in our medieval past, as we are not the first people to experience such challenging weather. In the late 13th & early 14th centuries Ireland was also battered by storms and maligned by poor weather. This podcast takes a look at some of the ways it impacted the medieval world. While society didn’t collapse if the experience of our ancestors is anything to go by our future could be something of a rocky and hungry road!
I am currently working on a podcast about the impact of climate change on medieval Ireland and I came across this miracle recorded in Dublin in July 1461, but unsurprisingly all may not be as it seemed at the time.
On the 19th July 1461, the east window of the Priory of the Holy Trinity (Christchurch) was blown in during heavy winds. When the window gave way some masonry collapsed into the Cathedral.
Unfortunately heavy chests containing early charters, jewels, ornaments and most importantly relics were stored below the window. As the masonry collapsed the chests were heavily damaged along with their contents. However when the clear-up began amazingly the most important relic “The Staff of Jesus” had survived. Naturally it was deemed to be a miracle. Contemporary accounts claimed “by a miracle the Staff of Jesus, though the chest in which it was kept and other relics therein were destroyed, was found uninjured lying above the stones.”
The tour began on Hoggen Green which is near Tengmouth street on the right of this map. The green is long gone (but roughly stood where College Green/Dame St is today). It looks more like the picture below now, it’s s a view from the junction of George’s Street and Dame St. I mentioned the burned out Exchequer building in the podcast, that would have been situated on the left hand side of Georges street (on the right of the picture). All that remains today of this building is the name “Exchequer Street”.Continue Reading »
What did Dublin sound like in 1320? What was the news of the day? Who were the people who lived there? In this episode you will experience the world of late medieval Dublin with sounds from medieval life. The podcast takes the form of a walk through the city as it was in 1320 where we encounter everything from pigs roaming the streets to the city hangman Philip of Colchester. This show is different from previous episodes so let me know what you make of it by contacting me @irishhistory on twitter or irishhistorypodcast on facebook. I will be giving tours of medieval Dublin in the coming months – if you are interested contact me at email@example.com
I am currently writing an article on climate change in medieval Ireland and its impact. When I finished this graph the results were pretty stark and a perhaps a little alarming given the current changes in our climate today.
Medieval Europe experienced climate change in the late 13th and early 14th century. Scientists generally divide the period into two distinct climates – the medieval climate anomaly, a period of relatively warm weather between c. 750 C.E. and 1250 C.E. and the Little Ice Age which lasted between 1350 C.E. and 1750C.E. Between these two periods the climate obviously changed, but finding evidence of this is not easy.
I first examined medieval annals looking for evidence of an increase in inclement weather. The results did show an increase in poor weather but it wasn’t conclusive. Then I decided to look at famine between 1050 – 1350 C.E. Famine is intrinsically linked to climate – poor weather results in poor harvests which in turn leads to famine. There are some famines caused directly by war so I discounted any results which explicitly stated this. The results were pretty conclusive. In the period where we know the climate was changing the frequency famine shot up. In terms of what we face today there is some solace in the fact that we are by no means as vulnerable to famine than our ancestors.
The numbers on the vertical represent the famine years in a given decade.
The graph is not scientific but does indicate increased famine resulting from weather conditions in the later 13th and early 14th century. The results are based on searches using the terms “famine”, “dearth”, “starvation/starve/starving”, “hunger” and “scarcity”.
Famine which are explicitly said to be caused by war were excluded.
Data was taken from the Annals of Ulster, The Annals of the Four Master, The Annals of Tigernach, Grace’s Annals, The Annals of Loch Ce, The Annals of Connacht, The Annals of Inisfallen, The three surviving fragments of Mc Carthy’s book and the Dominican Annals of Roscommon all available here.
Some later annals such as the Annals of the Four Masters are in part based on some of the earlier Annals, so only one famine was entered per year.
I am 32 year old historian, archaeologist and blogger. I have published a book on life in medieval Ireland entitled 'Witches, Spies and Stockholm Syndrome, life in Medieval Ireland'. I also organise tours of medieval Dublin, available on request.