A Monastic Landscape
  
A Monastic Landscape
The Cistercians in Medieval Ireland
Published:
10/7/2011
Format:
Perfect Bound Softcover
Pages:
206
Size:
8.5x11
ISBN:
978-1-45356-100-3
Print Type:
Color
This publication is primarily a study of the various aspects of the use and situation of the land held by the Cistercian order in medieval Leinster. A number of key topics form the central elements of this study. These include an examination of the physical landscape into which the Cistercian order settled and the changes that occurred within that landscape during the later medieval era. The book examines whether the location of the monasteries indicated any underlying nuances or if the monks were happy to settle wherever they were given land. The involvement of the Cistercian order in the agricultural and economic life of Leinster is also examined. A breakdown of the acreage and land type that the monasteries possessed is presented and, in the final section the state of the monasteries immediately prior to the dissolution of the religious houses in the period 1536-41 is determined. With regard to this final section the areas of interest are in relation to the physical remains of the monasteries, the productivity or otherwise of the associated lands, the organisation and location of that land and the general attitude of the Cistercian monks at that particular time in history. There are many different areas of study that were examined. These include the identification of the lands, the land type and trends or differences in this type when compared with other parts of the country. The organisation of the land and the uses of it in relation to the monastery are an essential aspect of the work and is possible to identify economic and social change by discussing the uses of that land. The identification of granges and grange buildings was not originally intended as part of this work, however, research has allowed some evidence to emerge in relation to these buildings and is included. In relation to the approach, a short chapter outlining the origins of monasticism and the emergence of the Cistercian Order is included. A brief outline of the governing rules of the Cistercians is included in chapter one as is a short discussion on the spread of the order up to its arrival in Ireland. The second chapter is merely intended to give an idea of the pattern of the distribution of the Cistercian monasteries in Ireland. Most of the information is in table form giving the monastery, its location, date of foundation and founder. From this a number of observations are be made. The principal area of study is Leinster, therefore chapter three deals with this territory, discussing its boundaries, both internal and external and the kingdoms that made up medieval Leinster. The fact that the monasteries of Leinster were situated in very well defined territories means that, although the study is of Leinster as a whole, these smaller, somewhat independent units were still an important element in both the landscape and the social framework of the period. As such, it was necessary to ensure that each of these units was represented in any category of study. The location of the monasteries is the focus of the second portion of chapter three. Both the natural and man-made features of the landscape are examined here. The proximity of road and route ways to the monasteries has been mapped and discussed and any trends or patterns commented upon. Chapter four deals with the monastic complex and the associated features. It discusses the way in which the monastery and its lands were organised and the reasons for this. This chapter deals more with the day-to-day requirements of the monks and indicates how both the land and the buildings within the complex were equally important and key elements in the functioning of the monasteries. Following from chapter four, and keeping earlier comments in mind, the next portion of the work deals with other land that particular monasteries may have held at any time from foundation up to the time when the extents of the monastic possessions were drawn up. Instead of looking
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Breda Lynch graduated in 2009 from the National University of Ireland Maynooth with a Ph D in History, this followed an award of a First Class Honours Grade 1 Bachelor of Arts Degree. Dr Lynch's main area of interest is the medieval period, particularly in relation to the Cistercian Order and has presented many lectures on this topic. Breda is employed by the Office of Public Works, the Irish State body responsible for the conservation and protection of National Monuments. Dr Lynch’s working life is based at Jerpoint Abbey, a twelfth century Cistercian monastery, renowned for its figurative sculpture. Through her early employment as a Guide/Information Officer at Jerpoint Abbey, and subsequent research, she has developed a unique insight into the lives of those who built and lived in the monastery and surrounding area. Through various research papers Dr Lynch has broadened the understanding of the Cistercian Order in medieval Ireland and her enjoyment in doing so is evident on every page. Breda’s background as a guide, combined with her skill as a researcher, ensures a study that is academic in its detail but engaging in its approach making it a refreshing read for the expert and general reader alike.
 
 


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