Cultures in Medieval Ireland

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Cultures in Medieval Ireland

Postby Maghnus Ó Sionnaigh on Mon Sep 29, 2008 2:04 am

For those who haven't read my introduction in the other section of the forum, I'm trying to build, or at least plan out, a kit based around the year 1290. I've done extensive research on armor development in general, but I realize that very little is referenced to the development of armors in Ireland. But before I even go through that gauntlet, I want to learn more about the cultures that inhabited Ireland so I know which culture within Ireland I want to portray.

For starters can someone give me some info on those peoples who lived there during this period. I know of the Cambro-Norman, Hiberno-Norman, "native" Irish, and English during the attempted conquest, but I must confess that the relationship between all of these makes my head hurt worse than contemplating string theory.

This is likely to become my thread to ask most questions for my research and to clarify what I suspect I know (which is little more than assumption at this point), so thanks for bearing with me.
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Re: Cultures in Medieval Ireland

Postby finnobreanan on Sat Oct 04, 2008 10:55 pm

Maghnus,

I recently purchased and read a very good book on this subject: Irish Society, Anglo-Norman Settlers, Angevin Kingship: Interactions in Ireland in the late 12th Century, by Marie Therese Flanagan. It gives a good early background to the era Explores the Anglo-Norman invasion, but looks closely at the relationships between these new settlers and the Irish inhabitants, including the time period you are looking at. It is well worth the read.
http://www.amazon.com/Society-Anglo-Nor ... 881&sr=8-1
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Re: Cultures in Medieval Ireland

Postby Maghnus Ó Sionnaigh on Tue Oct 07, 2008 4:53 am

Thanks Finn. It's going on the top 5 of my list of books to purchase. I've done some online research as well, and so I think I have some idea as to how things happened during that time period.

Indulge me, if you will. This being an Irish board, and me not being a native Irish (modernly speaking) I just want to be sure I have the history down correctly.

As I see it, from about 1150-1320 there were 4 main groups of people in Ireland: The native (Gaelic) Irish, the Anglo-Normans (those descended from the Norman invasion of England after Hastings), the English (those Normans who did not go to Ireland) and eventually the Scots.

So, the Anglo-Normans invade Ireland after ousting Diarmait from a "civil" war. Diarmait goes to England for help and (ultimately) brings back Norman barons and knights from a failed campaign in Wales and eventually reconquer Dublin. After a time England (and I guess this is where the difference between "Anglo-Norman" and "England" come into play) realizes that things are not going the way they were supposed to make and King Henry II makes an appearance. The native Irish welcome Henry II with open arms to cease the advances of the Anglo-Normans. England colonizes Ireland. After Henry II attends to his business in France the Anglo-Normans become architecturally superior to the native Irish and fortify the countryside with modern castles, effectively bringing feudalism to Ireland. After a few generations England finally saw that the Anglo-Normans were not the ideal of English colonies and sought to do something about it. Enter the Scottish. England was in no condition to fight a war on two fronts (Scotland and Ireland) and eventually offered independence to Scotland. After what seems like some failed underhanded trickery on Scotland's part, they left Ireland around 1320 leaving the English colonies expansions restrained for a time.

So how far off from the mark am I?
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Re: Cultures in Medieval Ireland

Postby finnobreanan on Tue Oct 07, 2008 5:49 pm

Maghnus,

Don't forget the Norse-Irish who controlled Limmerick, Dublin, Waterford, Wexford and other locations. Keep in mind that they were Gaelicized by this time period. Also, the Anglo-Normans brought Welsh archers with them who settled in Munster (hense the surname Walsh and other names).

Henry II did not like the level of independance that his Norman Knight's had in Ireland and in very short time made major demands upon them, installed more loyal agents, and created "Crown lands". Edward Bruce's Invasion of Ireland of 1315 did not realy leave a major Scottish impact on Ireland. Scottish Galloglass had been arriving since the late 1200s and other Scottish colonies were much later established in County Antrim. Scottish "Red Shanks" mercenaries were fighting on the side of the irish durin the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, but few of them settled permanently in Ireland, but now were past the time period in question.

Oh, by the way, I'm not native Irish either, but of Irish-American descent. This has just become my major field of interest in the past ten years and am still learning.
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Re: Cultures in Medieval Ireland

Postby Maghnus Ó Sionnaigh on Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:01 pm

Just for the sake of the way my brain works, by Norse-Irish do you mean those Scandinavian folks who came over during the 700's?

I also figured that I'd paraphrase the 3+ pages of history I've assembled over the last few days. I dont need to turn this into an X-post.... yet. :twisted:
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Re: Cultures in Medieval Ireland

Postby finnobreanan on Wed Oct 08, 2008 1:29 pm

Maghnus Ó Sionnaigh wrote:Just for the sake of the way my brain works, by Norse-Irish do you mean those Scandinavian folks who came over during the 700's?

I also figured that I'd paraphrase the 3+ pages of history I've assembled over the last few days. I dont need to turn this into an X-post.... yet. :twisted:


Yes, These are the Viking settlements and cities in Ireland.
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Re: Cultures in Medieval Ireland

Postby Maghnus Ó Sionnaigh on Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:41 pm

Splendid. I think I've got a good enough grasp on the peoples that lived in the area during my period. Since I don't have much of a disposable income at the moment, I decided to check my local library for that book you mentioned. They didn't have it so they're checking other libraries to see if I can get on on intra-library loan.

In a very related note, you may have noticed that my handle on here is Maghnus Ó Sionnaigh while just underneath it gives my full name as Shawn O'Hara. That's because my SCA persona's name is Maghnus. Just a name that sounded really cool to have and so far I respond more to Maghnus than Shawn these days. Sionnaigh was just something I found while browsing the St. Gabriel website for bynames. It translates to "The Fox." Again something that turned out to be personal flavor.

So trying to make a long story shorter, I found a pretty good read on the history of Ireland from the BBC website. It mentions all the events in more detail than I've thus far looked for, which can be a good thing, and in my case was awesome. I found what seemed like an obscure reference to the killer of Hugh De Lacy:

"Once a territory had been pacified, it was secured by stone castles. The site had to be chosen carefully, with solid rock as a stable base for preference. The largest of all was Trim Castle, built by Hugh de Lacy, extending over three acres though it may not have been complete before this Lord of Meath was murdered in 1086 by an Irishman, known as ‘The Fox’."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/as ... ic31.shtml

I thought this seemed too good to be true, so a search of Wiki on De Lacy revealed not an article but the following information: "Hugh de Lacy was killed while supervising the construction of a Motte castle at Durrow, Co. Offaly in 1186 at the instigation of Sinnagh (the Fox) and O'Breen (see Annals of the Four Masters, 1186.5)"

We all know how hit and miss Wiki can be, but the reference to the Annals of the Four Masters was like gold for me. Okay, okay, long story even shorter, I found more credible sources that have basically exploded information on the entire "Fox" clan/sept/chief. Up to this point, my entire basis for research was a made up name and a desired date range based entirely on my research of armor developments (I am an SCA heavy fighter after all), but now that the possibility that I actually have a specific place with a pretty detailed social dynamic is just more that I could have hoped for.

I am no wondering if anyone can shed any farther light on this clan. I'd list what I've read, but my knowledge is just too sporadic to write coherently. All I can say with some modicum of certainty is that they were heavily populated in County Westmeath and fought heavily against the English. Any additional information is welcomed with open arms.
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Re: Cultures in Medieval Ireland

Postby finnobreanan on Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:00 pm

Shawn,

Here's an interesting letter from the County Offaly Historical & Archealogical web site:
http://www.offalyhistory.com/articles/3 ... Page1.html


"the Annals of Kilronan, which record that De Lacy was murdered by Gillaganinaher O'Meeyey, the fosterson of Fox, Prince of Teffia. Perhaps O'Meeyey might, at the request of his foster-father, Fox, have enlisted in the service of the Earl (prayed to be set on worke for hyre) as a laborer in order to watch an opportunity of despatching him. We find that Fitz-Pat-rick of Ossory sometimes went around as a carpenter, ventner etc., to explore the state of English garrisons. ..."

Another interesting letter from the same web site:
http://www.offalyhistory.com/articles/3 ... Page1.html

Also, Check out "A History of Medieval Ireland" By Annette Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven, p. 69. She states that he was ordered killed by the Sinnach Ua Cartharnaigh. She also says the Sinnach (Fox in English) was the Chieftan of Teffia in West Meath. This could give you a lead into that kingdom's history if you search.

Here's an entire web site devoted to the Sinnach/Fox Clan:
http://www.geocities.com/foxclanirish/

By the way, O'Breen can also be spelled O'Breanan and the Brennans are a very old family in County Offaly (my mother's maiden name, hence my Living History name).
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Re: Cultures in Medieval Ireland

Postby Maghnus Ó Sionnaigh on Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:13 am

The first and third of your links I had found and were my version of a smoking gun when I posted last. That second post on Durrow 2 is most interesting as well. I also found the links below that allude to the Sinnach clan and will let you peruse those at your leisure.

http://www.libraryireland.com/Pedigrees1/Meath.php
http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/as ... ic31.shtml

Those are really the only two that have not thus far been linked. There are wiki articles, but meh... they're wiki.

Alrighty, moving right along thereI cannot recall the precise link, although I think it is part of the short history of Ireland series, but there was mention that several Irishmen had either sworn fealty to the crown or had relocated to England to avoid the likelihood of having their lands taken away otherwise. Was this a common practice in this time? And if so, what are the odds, do you think, that they were truly loyal to England? (VERY subjective question) And lastly, I would know if there are any existing books on specific dress for Ireland? I have access to several sources on what amounts to be a history of medieval clothing as well as the Mac Bible illuminations and the Manassa(sp?) Codex, but nothing specific to that region.

As always, thank you for all the help. It has been more insightful in a week than months of going it alone.

Cheers!
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Re: Cultures in Medieval Ireland

Postby finnobreanan on Sat Oct 11, 2008 7:53 pm

Shawn,

Check out Kass McGann's excellant web site for articles and patterns. She is also a great person to just ask questions to. You might be able to send her a PM on this site, since she is a registered user.
https://www.reconstructinghistory.com/a ... 00&w=1&r=Y

The best books on Irish Clothing are:
McClintock, H. F., Old Irish and highland Dress, Scotpress, 1999 (reprint), Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, USA
Dunlevy, Mairead, Dress in Ireland: A History, The Collins Press, 1999, West Link Park, Cork, Ireland

Also, another book that has illustrations printed in color from Gerald of Wales' "The History and Topography of ireland" can be found in:
Dersin, Denise, What Life was Like Amoung the Druids and High Kings of Ireland: Celtic Ireland AD 400-1200, 1998, Time Life -Books
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