Lecture 51: Irish Tower Houses by Finola Finlay

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Tower houses are a type of late medieval Irish castle, believed to have originated around 1300, or sometime within the 14th century, but most are probably from the 15th to the 17th centuries. By the 17th century, this would have made Ireland the most heavily castellated part of the British Isles. The tower house signifies changes in Ireland: on one hand it shows a resurgence in Gaelic power in the west after years of decline following the coming of the Normans in the 12th century. On the flip side it is a sign of the collapse of centralised power in the form of the English monarchy and a rise in decentralisation.

In this talk Finola will use examples of tower houses in her own part of the country to address these questions: Who built them? For what purposes? How did they afford them? How were were constructed and how did they function?, What caused their decline? What is the future for those we have left? By the end of the talk she hopes you will all be able to look at a tower house with greater insight into the role they played in Irish history. You will also be able to impress your friends by tossing off terms like bartizan and machicolation!

Finola’s blog is at :

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