The world of the galloglass

Kings, warlords and warriors in Ireland and Scotland, 1200–1600

Seán Duffy, editor

Paperback €22.45
Catalogue Price: €24.95
ISBN: 978-1-84682-624-5
July 2016. 236pp; illustrations.

The intersection of Scottish and Irish politics and culture in the late Middle Ages is encapsulated in the figure of the galloglass. These West Highland and Hebridean warriors feature prominently in the military history of late medieval and early modern Ireland; yet, though often mentioned, their role has never been properly analyzed. In this collection of essays, Seán Duffy (TCD) examines the ‘prehistory’ of the galloglass in Irish warfare; Kenneth Nicholls (emeritus, UCC), presents a full discussion of the various branches of galloglass kindred that rapidly proliferated throughout Ireland from the late thirteenth century onwards; and David Caldwell (National Museum, Scotland) reconstructs from artefacts, images and documentary sources how a galloglass warrior may have appeared and operated – his dress, his weaponry and his famous galleys.

The volume also examines ‘high politics’: R.A. McDonald (Brock University, Canada) assesses the significance of Manx sea power in the north Irish Sea region; Alasdair Ross (Stirling) re-evaluates the evidence for an Irish link in the revolts against the Scots kings in northern Scotland in the late twelfth and the thirteenth centuries; Alex Woolf (St Andrews) explores the mystery surrounding the identity of the king of Argyll who fell in the battle of Ballyshannon in 1247; Alison Cathcart (Strathclyde) looks at the Irish ambitions of King James V; and David Edwards (UCC) unravels the part played by an obscure fellow of Trinity College Dublin in James VI’s succession to the throne vacated by the College’s founder, Elizabeth I.

This book also makes a major contribution to the study of the common culture of Gaeldom in late medieval and early modern Ireland and Scotland, Katharine Simms (TCD) bringing her unrivaled expertise to bear on poems in honour of the McSweeney galloglass lords, while Wilson McLeod (Edinburgh) analyzes the image of the galloglass as portrayed in later bardic verse.

Seán Duffy is Professor in medieval history in Trinity College, Dublin, and co-director of its Centre for Irish-Scottish Studies. He is also the chairman of the Friends of Medieval Dublin.