in The Irish tower house


A very many people helped make this book a reality; therefore I beg forgiveness at the outset for those I have inadvertently overlooked here. Terry Barry is the person I have to thank for setting me on a path to tower house obsession. Once upon a time I was an undergraduate taking his castles class because it sounded cool, and the rest, as they say, is history. Since then he has been my mentor, advisor and supporter. ‘Thank you’ seems a bit paltry in that context.

Behind the pretty photographs and site descriptions is an unflagging and enthusiastic small army. Capable fieldwork assistance has been provided by Emma Arbuthnot, Samantha Brown, Laura Magnier and Linda Shine. In exchange for some chips in a country pub they navigated me to hundreds of obscure tower house ruins and chatted to countless farmers. This fieldwork would never have been possible without financial support from both the American Philosophical Society and Southeast Missouri State University. In particular, funds were awarded by the Franklin Research Grant programme and from the Grants and Research Funding Committee and the Office of the Provost. Thank you to all the people behind these, who made this research as straightforward and pleasant as possible.

I must express huge appreciation for the red pens of Jennifer Immich, Laura Magnier and Lily Santoro, who so quickly helped me whip the book into shape. Any word repetition still remaining is definitely my fault and not theirs! Brianna De Witt provided research assistance, for which thanks are also owing to Wayne Bowen and the Department of History for funding this. Jennifer Immich was such a help with geographic information systems, digital elevation models and mapping, while Paul Naessens of Western Aerial Survey provided the data used here from drone-based surveys. Academic assistance and access to materials were given by many, including Brian Donovan, Fiona Fitzsimons, Mark Gardiner, Rory Sherlock, Linda Shine and Meg Smith.

Many thanks go to the landowners who graciously granted access to their fields, farmyards and homes, even if it got in the way of their busy farm, their work or their tourist visitors. It has been an enormously heartening experience to have encountered so many landowners with a keen interest in the history of the archaeological sites on their land. Research was undertaken at a number of archives and repositories in Ireland and the United Kingdom; my heartiest thanks go to the professionals of the Kent Library at Southeast Missouri State University (especially Susan Welker in Interlibrary Loan), the National Archives of Ireland, the National Archives at Kew, the National Library of Ireland, the National Monuments Service Archive, the Office of Public Works, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and Trinity College Library. For permitting me use of illustrations I would like to express gratitude to the Royal Irish Academy, the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and Trinity College Library. I am grateful to my editor at Manchester University Press, Meredith Carroll, Assistant Editor Alun Richards and the anonymous reviewers whose suggestions have greatly strengthened this work.

So many colleagues have kept me (comparatively) sane during this process: my fellow postgraduate students at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Cambridge when I started the tower house research, followed by my faculty colleagues in the history department at Southeast Missouri State University. Thank you to Wayne Bowen, Eric Clements, Rusty Curtis and Steve Hoffman for their mentorship and guidance as I navigated the tenure track and the intricacies of publishing. I have been very fortunate to enter a world of extremely supportive and enthusiastic medieval scholars here in the United States. Pretty much the entirety of the American Society of Irish Medieval Studies and the Southeastern Medieval Association deserve all thanks, but Lindy Brady, Melissa Ridley Elmes, Benjamin Hudson, Bridgette Slavin, Joshua Byron Smith, Kat Tracy, Mary Valante and Patrick Wadden warrant particular mention. A big shout out to my students, especially those in my Castles in Context classes, who helped me see my research in new ways and provided new perspectives and food for thought. Of course, I could not have done this without all my friends, both within academia and far away from it, who helped me escape from the minutiae.

This book is dedicated to all the inspirational women in my life and to the memory of Varian Jones McAlister, Celia Bennett, John Jones, Sally Jones and Jenny McAlister, without whom this work would never have existed.

The Irish tower house

Society, economy and environment, c. 1300–1650


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