Rathmichael Historical Society

Early Norman Ireland – Summer Series 2023

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recordings available via this link

(Daniel Maclise: The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife picture in the National Gallery of Ireland)

The 2023 Summer Series of lectures had the theme Early Norman Ireland. We explored various consequences of the invasion of 1169, particularly in the century that followed. The five lectures covered the introduction of new legal and administrative frameworks, the new institutions and architecture and women’s roles and status.

The lectures took place at 8pm on the five evenings Mon 21st – Fri 25th August in Rathmichael National School on Stonebridge Road (map).

The recordings of the five lectures in the August Summer Series are now available to members only via this link

21John MarshallThe Division of Anglo-Norman Leinster, 1247
22Adrian EmpeyThe Anglo-Norman Legacy
23Michael PottertonCastles in the Air: The Leo Swan Memorial Lecture 2023
Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland, c.1170 – c.1320
24Rachel MossChurch building in Early Norman Ireland
25Sparky BookerThe Status and Rôles of Women in Late Medieval Ireland

Castles in the Air: The Leo Swan Memorial Lecture 2023
Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland, c.1170–c.1320

Dr Michael Potterton (Maynooth University)

This paper will look at the role played by the Anglo-Normans in the development of castle-building in Ireland in the 150-year period from c.1170 to c.1320. Were there castles in Ireland before this time? What were the major types of castle built after 1170? Where were they? What were their roles? Who built them? Why? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in this virtual tour of Ireland’s major fortifications of the ‘long’ thirteenth century. We will also look at castles in their wider landscape, how they evolved over time, what overseas influences were at play, and what precipitated a major fall-off in castle-building in Ireland in the early fourteenth century. The talk will be illustrated with photographs – some taken by Leo Swan – of surviving castles as well as reconstruction drawings and the results of archaeological and historical investigation. 

The Division of Anglo-Norman Leinster, 1247
John Marshall, TCD

This lecture explores the partition of the lordship of Leinster in 1247, after the five sons of William Marshal the elder (d.1219) died without producing an heir. The talk will discuss the ramifications of this pivotal moment for English Ireland, in addition to providing an insight into the rich primary source documentation of the partition itself.

The Anglo-Norman Legacy
Adrian Empey

The popular image of the Normans generally features earnest-looking gentlemen in chain-mail suits, castle-builders and and introducers of Gothic architecture, all of which is true enough. Less acknowledged is their institutional legacy in law and governance. We still use common law and the county system that they created. They decisively changed the demographic shape of Ireland. They left a profound impact on the institutions of the church all the way down to the parochial system. They founded most of the towns and villages of eastern, southern and western Ireland. They left a profound influence on the English language. All these consequences flowed from small, isolated bands of Norman adventurers who had no plan whatsoever to conquer Ireland.