‘Hag of the Castle:’ Women, Family, and Community in Later Medieval Ireland

Sheela-na-gig from the Fethard wall in Fethard, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, detail, 12th c.

In a letter written as part of his work for the Irish Department of the Ordnance Survey in 1840, Thomas O’Conor recorded his reaction to a “Sheela- na-gig” sculpture—the image of a naked woman shown exposing her genitalia (fig. 1)—that he saw on the old church at Kiltinane, Co. Tipperary.

Enniskillen Castle to receive over £2 million in heritage funding

Enniskillen Castle - photo by Raymond Millar

Enniskillen Castle, one of Northern Ireland’s most impressive castles, is to be transformed into a world class heritage attraction, thanks to a £2.37 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund

An aspect of Alcuin: ‘Tuus Albinus’ – peevish egotist? or parrhesiast?


In over 270 letters from about a decade and a half, alcuin of york (†804) informed, advised, consoled and admonished contemporaries, reacted to current events, and maintained a circle of friends and partners in reciprocal prayer that extended from Jerusalem to Ireland and from rome to salzburg. Alcuin left york in the 780s to become a friend and chief advisor to Charlemagne.

Viking Chiefs, Irish Kings and Exported Princesses


One of the earliest records which we have of the Deisi, the native kingdom in which Viking Woodstown were constructed, is their origin legend

Tundale’s Vision: Socialization in 12th Century Ireland

tundale vision

The purpose of this project is to explore the historical image of Hell in Medieval Europe as an agent of socialization for illiterate Christian communities.

6,000 artefacts discovered at Drumclay crannog dig

floor of a house discovered at Fermanagh Crannog - photo courtesy Department of the Environment

An archaeological dig in Northern Ireland has uncovered about 6,000 artefacts, dating back to as early as the seventh century A.D.

A monastic landscape: The Cistercians in medieval Leinster

Clonmacnoise Monastery (Leinster, Ireland)

This study endeavours to discuss the Cistercian monasteries of Leinster with regard to their physical location in the landscape, the agricultural contribution of the monks to the broader social and economic world and the interaction between the cloistered monks and the secular world.

ARTICLES: The Deflation of the Medieval in Joyce’s Ulysses

Marilyn Monroe Reading Ulysses

For James Joyce, Irish nationalism, with its appeal to patriotic emotionality and promotion of interest in the archaic and medieval Irish past, was suspect.

The Viking Age in Ireland – An Overview

vikings in munster

The Irish sometimes referred to them as Lochlannach, meaning ‘men from the land of lakes’. This probably refers back to their native Scandinavia and its famous landscape, but it could equally refer to Scotland and northern England where the Vikings had also settled.

Grainne Uaile: The Movie

Grainne Uaile - the Movie

An up and coming movie about Grace O’ Malley (Grainne Uaile), Ireland’s famous female pirate!

Irish Hagiographical Lives in the Twelfth Century: Church Reform before the Anglo-Norman Invasion

Saint Brendan and the whale from a 15th century manuscript

In order to further disentangle the reality and fiction of this view of culture versus barbarity and of reform versus wickedness, I shall analyse twelfth-century Irish vitae.

Christianity and the Latin tradition in early Medieval Ireland

Book of Ballymote - explaining Ogham script

The Christianity which arrived in Ireland with the fifth-century missionaries was more than just a literate religion; it was very much a religion of the book.

A Peripheral Matter?: Oceans in the East in Late-Medieval Thought, Report and Cartography

15th century ships

It is something of a truism that the Ocean Sea {mare oceanum in medieval texts and cartography) marked out a real and conceptual periphery for medieval Western Europeans.

Archaeologists uncover human remains in Dublin

Skull - Photo: Rubicon Heritage Services

The remains of at least five people have been discovered by archaeologists working at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Since they were found at a depth of 1.5 metres below the surface, it suggests the remains are most likely medieval or earlier in date.

What’s Happening in Medieval Archaeology this Summer

archeological digs 2014

Here are some videos posted this summer about archaeological work currently taking place that involves medieval finds.

Amending the Ascetic: Community and Character in the Old English Life of St. Mary of Egypt

Saint Mary of Egypt - British library

Among the most eligible saints for such treatment, Mary of Egypt deserves particular consideration: her popularity is evidenced by over a hundred extant Greek manuscripts of her Life and her uniquely prominent position in the Lenten liturgical cycle in the Eastern Church.

Quiz: Early Medieval Ireland

Ireland in the medieval world

Try this quiz and see how much do you know about Ireland in the Early Middle Ages!

Wise Sayings from Medieval Ireland – The Maxims of King Aldfrith of Northumbria

17th century map of Ireland

Be cautious so that you may not be burdened with debts. / Be thrifty so that you may not be grasping. / Be obliging so that you may be loved.

Viking-Age Queens and the Formation of Identity

The Viking Age Ireland and the West

One may ask, then, not why there exists such a paucity of these women in the written record, but why any are mentioned at all, and for what purposes?

Warrior Kings and Savvy Abbots: The Cross of the Scriptures, Clonmacnoise

Clonmacnoise - Replica of the Cross of the Scriptures - Ireland

This paper offers a new pespective on the depiction of four figures in elegant costumes on the Cross of the Scriptures at Clonmacnois.

What’s the Matter?: Medieval Literary Theory and the Irish Campaigns in The Bruce

Wars of Scottish Independence - 1332, Neville’s Cross

John Barbour’s Bruce, composed in the mid 1370s, is the first long poem in the Scots vernacular. It contains twenty books, the first thirteen of which trace the Wars of Liberty from their origins until triumph at the Battle of Bannockburn. At this point the Irish ‘matter’ enters the poem.

Did Halley’s Comet Convert the Irish to Christianity?

conversion irish

Many attribute the spread of Christianity in Ireland to St. Patrick. But Medieval history and scientific evidence dating back to 540 A.D. hint at a more cosmic reason.

Kingdom, emporium and town: the impact of Viking Dublin

Archaeology from Viking Dublin

In recent years the precise location and nature of Viking Dublin have been much debated. It is now generally accepted that there was a longphort phase from 841 to 902: a period of enforced exile from 902 to 917, and thereafter a dún phase.

Early Medieval Ireland: New Perspectives

early medieval ireland lecture

Finbar McCormick examines the archaeological research being carried out in Ireland, including early medieval burials, monastic sites and ringforts.

Top 10 Medieval Castles in Ireland

top 10 medieval castles ireland

Ten great medieval castles from Ireland and Northern Ireland

medievalverse magazine