Medieval Ireland

AIRBERTACH MAC COSSE (d. 1016) (Medieval Ireland)

Allowing that he held the offices of fer leigind ("man of learning"; lector) and airchinnech (superior) of Ros Ailithir (Roscarberry, County Cork), Airbertach mac Cosse’s reputation as a scholar, among present-day historians, rests mainly on four surviving works on the basis of which he has been viewed as a Latinist, a commentator on the Psalms, […]

AIRGIALLA (Medieval Ireland)

Airgialla, "those who give hostages," was a collective name for a group of peoples around the Sperrin Mountains in the north of Ireland and in the midlands. They consisted of nine main tribal groups: Ui Maic Cafrthinn, south of Lough Foyle; Ui Fiachrach of Ardstraw; Ui Thuirtri east of the Sperrins (collectively known as Ui […]

AMLAIB CUARAN (fl. c. 940-981) (Medieval Ireland)

Amlaib Cuaran (Olafr Kvaran), the son of Sihtric Caech (d. 927), belonged to the second generation of the Ui Imair dynasty, which came to dominate the Hiberno-Norse world in the course of the tenth century. His father Sitriuc and uncle Ragnall had led the return of the Vikings to Ireland in 917 and, after eliminating […]


Anglo-Irish relations were given constitutional expression when King Henry II of England (1154-1189) came to Ireland in 1171 and took the formal submission of the Irish kings. Yet given the geographical proximity of Britain and Ireland, it is certain there had always been interactions between the peoples of the two islands. Ireland was not absorbed […]


The commencement of the so-called Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland is dated conventionally to 1169, although the first overseas mercenaries in fact arrived in the autumn of 1167 in the company of Diarmait Mac Murchada, the king of Leinster, who had been forced into exile in 1166 and had sought military assistance from Henry II, king […]


Despite geographical proximity and periods of close cultural ties, evidence of such influence on Irish literature is surprisingly scarce. Several reasons for this can be suggested at least for the seventh and early eighth centuries. During that period the Anglo-Saxons were much more likely to have been the recipients than the donors of influence. Ireland […]


The Irish Chronicles, kept in Ireland throughout the medieval period, are a major source for Irish society and politics. They are largely annalistic in form, being divided into years, called "annals," rather than having other time-periods, such as reigns, as the main structural principle. They record the deaths of notable ecclesiastical and lay figures, battles, […]


The title given to the chief historical work of a small team of scribes and historians under the leadership of the Franciscan friar Mfcheal (Tadhg) O Cleirigh, these annals were compiled in two stages between 1632 and 1636 in the "place of refuge" of the Donegal Franciscan community at Bundrowse on the Donegal/Leitrim border. Known […]

ARCHAEOLOGY (Medieval Ireland)

Archaeology is the study of the past through the medium of the physical remains of human activity, using three categories of evidence: sites, artifacts, and human effects on the natural environment. Often associated largely with the study of prehistoric societies, it has made a real contribution to the study of medieval Ireland. The strengths of […]

ARCHITECTURE (Medieval Ireland)

Early Medieval Most of the architecture that survives from earlier-medieval (pre-twelfth-century) Ireland was ecclesiastical in nature, and most of the individual buildings that still stand to an appreciable height were churches. One of the enduring puzzles about Ireland’s rich Christian civilization at this time is that these churches were buildings of almost willful simplicity; the […]