In 1316, Hugh Lawless penned a famous letter describing life for Anglo-Normans in the Wicklow Mountains as being in a ‘confined and narrow part of the country namely between Newcastle and Wicklow where they have the sea between Wales and Ireland for a wall on one side and the mountains of Leinster and divers other wooded and desert places on the other‘. This siege like existence in the rugged terrain of east Wicklow spelled the beginning of the end for Norman society in the region.
On Saturday May 18th , I am organising a unique tour where you can visit the ‘wooded and desert places’ Lawless mentioned, hearing the intriguing story of the final days of Norman Wicklow. This unique tour, based on my own research, will graphically illustrate life in late medieval Ireland, when people struggled to survive through climate change, war and famine.
To download a podcast of this article “right click” on the link below and go to “save link as” or on a mac press ctrl clickMedieval Wicklow Tour 2013
In a remote valley, a mile east of the village of Annamoe in east Wicklow lies the long forgotten ruins of medieval Castlekevin. Camouflaged by undergrowth, this Norman castle and town was once the key Norman site in the region. The walls and earthworks of this ruin witnessed some of the most bloody events in the remarkable story of the fall of Norman society in the inhospitable mountains of eastern Wicklow.
Life at Castlekevin was not always shrouded in war and violence, indeed over seven centuries ago this fortified settlement was a thriving town dominating the neighbouring valleys of Glendalough and Glenmalure. However following a century of relentless war, famine, plague and massacres reminiscent of ‘A Game of Thrones‘ the site declined into the picturesque ruin we see today. This article is the story of eastern Wicklow in the later medieval period when it was torn apart by one of the worst crises recorded in human history. Although the region is famous for its associations with the early christian monastery at Glendalough its later medieval history is often neglected. Far from its pious origins of Glendalough the area became the centre of a bitter violent struggle for control of eastern Wicklow in a period of frequent famine.
Book your place on the upcoming tour “The Rise and Fall of Medieval Dublin”
In the last podcast I mentioned upcoming tours of medieval Dublin. My initial plan was to start these tours in August but I am happy to announce that I will be doing a limited number of tours over the next few weeks.
The tour is entitled “The rise and fall of medieval Dublin”. Begining with Dublin’s origin’s in the early medieval period it looks at the growth of Dublin through Viking raids and the Norman conquest. The tour also looks at the often forgotten near apocalyptic 14th century that saw famine, war and then plague nearly destroy Dublin. The tour also covers the trial of the Knights Templar in 1309 and the Great Dublin Explosion of 1597. Book your place now by mailing me at history @Irishhistorypodcast.ie or leave a comment below. I am flexible with dates over the next few weeks but unfortunatley space is limited as I will be unable to give tours in late June, July or early August.
Recently I visted Kilcash in Co Tipperary. While there is a medieval church and tower house there, Kilcash is perhaps most famous for the words of the 18th century poet Raftery, who wrote a lament about the destruction the area in the 17th century.
Walking around the graveyard I came across this tombstone with the most unusual incision. The picture was taken in a rush and is of poor quality. I am unable to decipher the writing around the bottom of the stone beside the incision which may help explain why it was made (perhaps someone with better skills than I, could decipher the writing?).
Has anyone any ideas what it is or why it was made? On the podcast facebook page there were several suggestions ranging from the intentional removal of someones name to a repair that has subsequently fallen out or the reuse of stone already carved?
Loughmoe Castle is situated on the banks of the river Suir in North Tipperary. Built between the 15th and 17th centuries it was the seat of Barons of Loughmoe, the Anglo-Norman Purcell family. The earliest surviving structure on the site is a tower house which was transformed into the northern wing of a fortified house in the 17th century. In its new form as a fortified house the castle composed of two towers joined by what was known in the locality as “the court”. The castle stands outside the village of Loughmoe, close to the ruins of Loughmoe Abbey and the resting place of the famous Cormack brothers. Despite these widespread renovations Loughmoe castle was abandoned by the mid 18th century.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been super busy, but I am hoping to get back to history in the next week. The tour of Viking Dublin which took place on Sunday 10th April went really well. Thanks to everyone who came along. If you are interested in coming on a tour of Viking Dublin but couldn’t attend the last one please let me know and if there’s sufficient interest I will do another tour. This is the post from the previous tour.
In the mean time I am looking for your suggestions for online resources to include in an archive of internet sites about Irish history and Archaeology.
The idea is to create an archive in one place that contains links to free reliable online sources. The only rules for inclusion is that the sources must be free, reliable and relate to Irish history or Archaeology (in the broadest sense of the word). Sources can include online books, blogs, youtube clips, websites, audio – the medium doesnt matter as long as its free and reliable. So please help send in your suggestions by commenting below or history@ Irishhistorypodcast.ie
On Sunday, April 10th I am organising a walking tour of Viking Dublin where you can retrace the steps of Dublin’s earliest inhabitants in the modern city today. This tour will journey through early medieval Dublin looking at the first few centuries of the city’s history during its days as a Viking stronghold.
The tour will bring you through the remains of the Viking Town that lie within modern Dublin’s buildings, streets, lanes and alleys.
I have been meaning to put this up since I wrote an article about St Peters church Phibsboro. Situated across the road from St Peter’s Catholic Church is a small neat Baptist church. Constructed in 1903 it was once one of the two main Baptist churches in Dublin, the other being in Rathmines. It was converted into offices in the 1990’s. The red bricked structure is quite plain like you might expect.
The aspect that really caught my eye was the four busts of church reformers, two on each door. One is in great condition; two are severely worn, while the fourth is unrecognisable. The three remaining are Huss, Tyndale and Latimer all executed reformers, so its safe to assume the fourth is a protestant martyr too. Anyone have any suggestions? It seems that the busts move chronologically from left to right which would put the missing martyr’s death between 1536-1555….
While it’s not worth a journey to see on its own its worth a look if your checking out Broadstone, Grangegorman and St Peters all in the same part of Dublin.
Want to spend a day exploring castles with hidden chambers or wandering around monasteries that were bigger than small towns? Here’s how to visit three sites for €6! Although you’ll probably only have heard of one – Kilkenny castle, the others – Clara castle and Kells Priory are equally interesting. They are all close to each other and easily seen in a day if you have a car. (more…)
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.