Gowran, Co. Kilkenny, 1190–1610
Custom and conflict in a baronial town
Part of the Maynooth Studies in Local History series.
Our knowledge of Anglo-Norman Ireland is derived from a wide spectrum of written records: charters, legal and financial records, to name a few. Every town and manor had its own customs, which were sourced in the collective memory and seldom committed to writing, except in the rare instances when custom was disputed. In this context, the long drawn-out conflict between the townsmen of Gowran and the earl of Ormond at the beginning of the 17th century is particularly interesting. The setting for this controversy requires collateral explorations into the nature of the original settlement in the late 12th century, the place of the town in relation to both the manor and the lordship of Gowran, including its institutions and society. While much historical research has been invested in our major cities, remarkably little attention has been given to the study of less important boroughs founded by tenants of the great lords. In many cases the record trail is too thin to proceed very far. Gowran, on the other hand, is well served in this respect, thanks to its Ormond collection.
Adrian Empey studied history at Trinity College Dublin. He has written widely on themes relating to Anglo-Norman settlement, and more recently on aspects of the development of the parochial system in medieval Ireland.