Landscapes and Lifeways

This project, which is at publication stage, uses a series of field-based studies in Ireland to reveal the physical environments in which Gaelic learned families lived and conducted schools, specifically through an exploration of their settlement archaeology, landholdings and the place-names associated with them, c. 1200-1600AD. The landscape context of their lives is essential to understanding the role and identity of the learned professions as service families of Gaelic lords and it also provides insight into the character and organisation of lordship mensal lands (lucht tighe) in later medieval and early modern Ireland to c.1600.

The project includes the results of excavations at the Burren law school settlement of the Ó Dubhdábhoireann brehon lawyers to the Ó Lochlainn lord of the Burren (FitzPatrick and Clutterbuck 2007, 2008, 2010) and the Ó Deóradháin lawyers at Ballyorley, Co Wexford (Ó Drisceoil 2009), in addition to  number of surveys conducted throughout Ireland on the former landholdings of, among others,  the poetic families of Ó Cuirnín on Church Island, Lough Gill, Ó Dálaigh of Muinter Bháire on the Sheepshead peninsula, Co. Cork, Ó Ruanaidh of Drumballyroney, Co. Down, and traditional historians such as the Ó Duibhgheannáin of Kilronan in Magh Luirg, the Ó Cléirigh chroniclers at Kilbaron, Co. Donegal, the Ó h Íceadha physicians of Ballyhickey in Magh Adhair, and the various branches of Mac Aodhagáin lawyers at Park and Duniry, Co. Galway, Ballymacegan, Co. Tipperary, and  Ballymackeagan, Co. Longford (see the Archaeometric Analysis of Late Medieval Inscribed Slates webpage).

The landscape approach has indicated that views of early medieval royal demesnes can be achieved through the lens of later medieval learned family holdings on the mensal lands of Gaelic lordships, and that the ways in which service families used their land may have informed the basis for the formation of later gentry demesnes.

Research Learned Families 1 Ó Cuirnín ollamh
The late medieval church and school of the Ó Cuirnín ollamh in poetry to the Ó Ruairc of West Bréifne, on Inishmore Island, Lough Gill, Co. Sligo (photo E. FitzPatrick). 
West end chamber of the Ó Cuirnín church-school showing the dividing wall between the chamber and the nave of the church, with its squint, keeping holes and drain-stone for liquids (photo E. FitzPatrick).
Research Learned Families 2 Ó Cuirnín ollamh
Research Learned Families 3 Ballymacegan
Water meadows (cluainte) along the Shannon form part of the boundary of the lands of the Mac Aodhagáin brehon lawyers of Ballymacegan and Redwood, north Tipperary (photo E. FitzPatrick).
Cabhail Tighe Breac, the late medieval school-house of the Ó Dubhdábhoireann brehon lawyers, at Cahermacnaghten, Burren, Co. Clare (photo E. FitzPatrick). 
 Research Learned Families 4 Cahermacnaghten
Research Learned Families 5 Ballyhickey Wedge Tomb
A wedge tomb on the later medieval landholding of the Ó h Íceadha physicians at Ballyhickey, Co. Clare (photo E. FitzPatrick).

Project Publications

FitzPatrick, E., 2015 Ollamh, biatach, comharba: lifeways of Gaelic learned families in medieval and early modern Ireland, in L. Breatnach, R. Ó hUiginn, D. McManus and K. Simms (eds), Proceedings XIV International Congress of Celtic Studies, Maynooth 2011, 165-89. Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, Dublin.

FitzPatrick, E. 2013 The landscape and settlements of the Uí Dhálaigh poets of Muinter Bháire, in S. Duffy (ed.), Princes, prelates and poets in medieval Ireland: essays in honour of Katharine Simms, 460-80. Four Courts Press, Dublin.

FitzPatrick, E. and Clutterbuck, R., 2013, Cabhail Tighe Breac Cahermacnaghten, in I. Bennett (ed.) Excavations Bulletin: Excavations 2010, 26-7. Wordwell, Bray.

FitzPatrick, E., 2011, 'Cahermacnaghten', in I. Bennett (ed.), Excavations Bulletin: Excavations 2008, 41-3. Wordwell, Dublin.

FitzPatrick, E., 2008, Excavation of a building at Cahermacnaghten, Co. Clare, in I. Bennett (ed.) Excavations Bulletin: Excavations 2007, no.150. Wordwell, Bray.

Projector Director: Prof. Elizabeth FitzPatrick Research Partners: Dr Richard Clutterbuck, Dr Eve Campbell, Cóilín Ó Drisceoil (Kikenny Archaeology)