The Gaelic lordship of the O'Sullivan Beare

Colin Breen

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ISBN: 1-85182-955-5
May 2005. 256pp; ills.

This book examines the history and archaeology of the O'Sullivan Beare lordship in West Cork. The sept dominated this area for much of the late medieval period following the displacement of an Anglo-Norman presence in the upper end of Bantry Bay in the thirteenth century. This was a Gaelic maritime lordship with an economic focus on fishery resources and trade and communications with continental fishing fleets. The settlement pattern and lifeways of the Gaelic-Irish reflected this dual interest in the sea and the limited availability of terrestrial resources and land usage. Towards the end of the 16th century, British plantations herald the end of Gaelic dominance in the area.

New settlements, industry and forms of land management radically alter the cultural character of the landscape and mark the advent of early capitalism and formalized globalization in this area. The response of the Gaelic-Irish to this change was varied. Some branches engaged in resistance while others interacted with the colonizers in socio-economic and political terms. The varying reactions to this transformation can be seen through architectural and landscape change.

Colin Breen is a lecturer in maritime and historical archaeology at University of Ulster, Coleraine.