Trim Community Heritage Presentation

Geoffrey de Geneville and the patronage of architecture in thirteenth-century Ireland

Professor Tadhg O’Keeffe BA MA PhD DEA FSA id the Head of School at the School of Archaeology, University College Dublin

This paper is a reflection on the concept of medieval architectural patronage as viewed through the lens of the career of Geoffrey de Geneville. It examines the buildings attributed to Geoffrey in Ireland and places them in their wider architectural contexts. It also considers briefly the importance of the Savoyard connection in the shaping of the Angevin architectural landscape in these islands.

Sacred Geography and Religious Representation in a Changing Urban Landscape: Lessons from Medieval Constance

Dr. Alison I. Beach Associate Professor Department of History, Ohio State University

This paper examines the place of a single Benedictine community, Petershausen, within the changing ecclesio-political landscape of medieval Constance and of Swabia. I will argue for the importance of understanding various strategies for religious representation within the local landscape, as well as the impact of broader economic and spiritual changes on Petershausen and its ability to attract patrons by offering effective prayer on their behalf. I hope that my paper will provide interesting points of comparison with the religious landscape of medieval Trim, and the place of the Blackfriary within it.

From Cistercians to Colcloughs: Tintern Abbey, Co. Wexford

Dr. Ann Lynch is the Senior Archaeologist in the National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht

Tintern Abbey in Co. Wexford is a daughter house of the great Cistercian abbey at Tintern in Monmouthsire. It was founded in 1200 and was one of the most powerful abbeys in the south-east until its dissolution in 1536. The abbey and its lands were then granted to the Colclough family who resided at Tintern until 1959. Extensive archaeological excavations carried out in the 1980s and 1990s have revealed the lay-out of the medieval monastery and the changes that took place in the following centuries, including the post-Dissolution conversion to a domestic dwelling. Information was retrieved about the monastic way of life and the analysis of over 100 burials has thrown some light on the changing burial practices during this period. This presentation will focus on how the monastic buildings were adapted and indeed transformed over time and the role they are now playing in the presentation of the Tintern story to the public.

The Hounds of the Lord: a day in the life of a Black Friar in Medieval Trim.

Colmán Ó Clabaigh is a monk of Glenstal Abbey and a medieval historian specializing in the field of late medieval Irish monasticism. He most recent work is The Friars in Ireland, 1224-1540 (Dublin, 2012).

With the establishment of the Black Friary in 1263 the people of Trim encountered one of the most vibrant expressions of religious life in the medieval Church: the mendicant friars and, specifically, the Order of Preachers or Dominicans. This paper examines the life and lifestyle of the Friars Preachers in Trim demonstrating how their daily round of prayer, communal living, study and asceticism shaped their lives and influenced their ministry. From there it explores what impact the Friars might have had on their neighbours and contemporaries in the town of Trim and in the surrounding countryside.

The Dead beneath the Floors: the use of space for burial in the Dominican Blackfriary in Trim, Co. Meath

Emma Lagan, Hofstra Univeristy, New York

This paper examines the results of archaeological excavations within Irish Dominican Priories, and specifically, evidence for burial practise. It focuses on the use of space for burial within the Medieval Dominican Blackfriary in Trim, Co. Meath, using data accumulated over the past three field seasons (2010­–2012).

At Blackfriary multiple burials have been indentified in the nave of the church. Within a relatively confined area, two apparently discreet zones of use have been identified, characterised by varying burial patterns. On the west side, burials consist of (fully articulated) extended inhumations, relatively spaced out, and less than a meter to the east, (fully articulated) extended inhumations were tightly packed and are overlain by a deposit (30–50 cm) of disarticulated human bone. This paper examines the skeletal remains in the context of their location and associations, makes comparisons to data from other Dominican friaries, and finally, examines social contexts that may explain the variations observed. Suggestions for future research are offered.

Moyne friary, Co. Mayo and the architecture of the Observant Reform

Dr Yvonne McDermott, Department of Business, Humanities & Technology, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Castlebar

This paper will consider the leading role of Moyne friary, Co. Mayo in the Observant reform of the Franciscan order.  The Observant reform of the mendicant orders entailed a renewed commitment to the principles of poverty and austerity on which these orders had originally been founded.  It proved to be particularly divisive among the Franciscans and ultimately led to the order being formally split into Conventual and Observant factions by Pope Leo X in 1517.  Moyne friary played a key role in the development of the Observant reform in Ireland and this commitment to Observance is reflected in the architecture of the friary.  Decorative sculpture is absent from this friary, with preference being given to other, less enduring media in the friary’s decorative scheme.  A very strict form of Observance is embodied in the architecture of Moyne friary.  This will be illustrated with reference to Moyne itself, in addition to comparisons with other late medieval Franciscan friaries, such as Ross Errilly, Co. Galway and Rosserk, Co. Mayo.  The phenomenon of the establishment of rural friaries in late medieval Ireland will also be considered, offering a critical assessment of the notion that the Observant friars settled in such areas as a means of retreating from the temptations of the world.

Monastic Ireland 1100-1700AD project & Old monasticism to new? Monasticism in Ireland 900-1200 (Two-part presentation)

Dr Niamh NicGhabhannUCD Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, and Dr Edel Bhreathnach, UCD Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute and CEO of the Discovery Programme.

Monastic Ireland 1100-1700AD project: this presentation introduces the exciting new project funded by Fáilte Ireland, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and University College Dublin, which involves the construction of a website and database of all Irish friaries and monasteries dating from 1100 to 1700AD. The aim of Monastic Ireland is to provide a comprehensive database for researchers on Irish monastic history and architecture, as well as developing a platform for tourists and first-time visitors to begin to explore the area. This presentation will demonstrate the ongoing work, and will explore some of the challenges and opportunities around building this digital humanities project. Furthermore, we would be grateful for the opportunity to gather feedback and responses from conference participants on aspects of the website and database, which can then be brought to bear on the future development of the site.

Old monasticism to new? Monasticism in Ireland 900-1200: this paper will address the often neglected area of the interface between existing monastic structures in Ireland and the new orders which began to appear in the late eleventh century, if not earlier. This includes an examination the nature of pre-twelfth century Irish ‘monasteries’, the survival of earlier practices, cults and ‘monastic’ families, the transfer of lands. Particular reference will be made to Clonmacnoise, Kells and Cashel.

Fringes of Monasticism: Excavations at Skriðuklaustur Monastery, 2000–2012

Dr. Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir. Professor in Archaeology University of Iceland & National Museum of Iceland Reykjavík

In 2002–2012, an archaeological investigation was undertaken of the ruins of an Augustinian monastery that operated at Skriða in East Iceland from 1493 until 1554. This monastery is the only one in Iceland – and the northernmost in Europe – to have been excavated in its entirety. Field survey work to identify the monastery site began in 2000. Twelve years later, excavations at Skriða had unearthed a monastic complex covering an area of 1500 square metres and the graves of around 300 individuals. The monastery graveyard was not only a final resting place for members of the order but also for the sick and infirm and the lay brothers and sisters who provided their assistance in keeping the monastery operational in the name of bettering their society. In building the monastery at Skriða, the architecture of other Catholic monasteries outside Iceland was evidently used as a frame of reference, though local building materials (turf, rock and driftwood) were used in its construction. Plainly too, the same infectious diseases afflicted those in the care of the Skriðuklaustur monastery as other inhabitants of Europe, despite its peripheral location beyond the continent’s borders. This is new knowledge, as the prevailing view had long been that Icelandic monasteries functioned somewhat differently than their counterparts elsewhere in the Catholic world because of the island’s geographical isolation in the North Atlantic. In the paper, the results from the excavation at Skriðuklaustur monastic site will be outlined but at the same time illustrated how social systems can cross geographical and cultural borders without necessitating fundamental change.

Understanding Irish Medieval Insular mendicants in their International Context

Dr. Annejulie Lafaye

The survival rate of mendicant buildings in Ireland offers a valuable opportunity for scholars to study holistically mendicant friaries and their landscapes. Scholars in England, France and Italy have long studied mendicant settlements using cross-disciplinary methodologies but have been hampered by a lack of physical remains. This paper will present the results of a research which adopted a genuinely cross-disciplinary approach – based specifically on the French tradition of Annales scholarship (associated with Georges Duby, Jacques le Goff and others) – to study the remains of Irish mendicant friaries, combining original documentary research, building-analysis, and reconstructions of the topographies of the friary hinterlands. This approach also entailed to place the mendicant settlements in international context, recognising that mendicantism was an international movement, elements of which crossed political and cultural boundaries. The multi-disciplinary approach and the introduction of comparisons with mendicant settlements abroad have led to more complex and layered conclusions than had been reached in the traditional historiography, which has presented the mendicant settlements as part of the ‘two nations’ narrative, an interpretation based on a limited knowledge of European material and too-great an emphasis on ethnicity.

This paper will present an overview of the research conclusions, including a re-evaluation of the relation between patrons and friars, showing more collaboration between them and affirming the role of the orders and of their interests and objectives in the choice of settlements, while adapting to the local political and economic context; a new understanding of the material impact of the friaries on the Irish medieval landscape; a new reading of the architectural language of the friaries, with the identification of both local developments and of their connections to a wider European Gothic tradition; and an interpretation of the mendicants’ approach to space through a study of the spatial organisation of the friaries never undertaken before, showing that their approach to space was both functional and symbolic.

Deconstruction and reinvention: Monastic architecture after the Dissolution

Dr. Rachel Moss, Assistant Professor, Department of the History of Art and Architecture, Trinity College Dublin

The impact of the Act of suppression in Ireland was quite different to that in England and Wales. This paper will examine the fate of medieval religious houses following the Dissolution, exploring the various factors that influenced the manner in which religious structures were maintained, altered or destroyed. Taking the three foundations in Trim as a starting point, it will examine the manner in which certain patterns of re-use emerged according to the religious order in question. It will focus particularly on two themes: the continuities in certain aspects of orders’ functions within a community, and the manner in which their buildings presented practical solutions to the new requirements of changing societal needs in the late sixteenth century.


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