Monastic Ireland

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MONASTIC IRELAND: A Gateway to Ireland’s Medieval Past

Monastic Ireland is a digital humanities project which seeks to create a comprehensive baseline database of historical information, images, and practical information of up to 300 medieval monastic houses in Ireland, allowing a non-expert audience to explore and enjoy Ireland’s medieval history.

The fundamental aim of this website ( is to provide visitors with easy access to enjoyable, interesting and practical information on a range of monastic sites throughout Ireland, which has been researched to an academic standard but is presented in an entertaining and accessible way.  This information will be accompanied by collections of photographs and antiquarian pictures specific to each site which will provide a visually stimulating introduction to Irish medieval sites.  In addition to catering for casual visitors, the database will be an image and textual resource for scholars once the detailed metadata is entered for all sites.

The project is led by Dr Edel Bhreathnach, with Dr. Rachel Moss and Dr. Malgorzata Krasnodebska-D’Aughton as co-investigators and Dr Keith Smith as the researcher and website coordinator.  The website was built by Rhys Jenkins of Open in collaboration with the Discovery Programme.  Ciaron Fitzpatrick was the graphic designer for the website, while Dr Niamh Nic Ghabhann, UL spent two years developing the project.

The project has been funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, UCD Seed Funds and by Fáilte Ireland, and it has been supported by the South-Western Regional Authority, and Heritage Island, a Dublin-based heritage marketing company. We have also been supported by the Monastic Wales project, which was developed by Professor Janet Burton, Dr. Karen Stöber, Dr. Julie Kerr at the University of Wales Trinity St. David.

Images for Home Page (ALT) (2)

The Monastic Ireland project was awarded a major Irish Research Council grant, allowing for the establishment of the second phase of the project, entitled ‘Monastic Ireland: Landscape and Settlement’.  This part of the project is led by Dr. Rachel Moss, with Drs Edel Bhreathnach and Malgorzata Krasnodebska-D’Aughton as co-investigators.  Dr Annejulie Lafaye is the postdoctoral researcher on the project, with Dr Keith Smith the postdoctoral research assistant.  Dr Elaine Pereira Farrell was a postdoctoral research assistant on the project prior to being awarded an ELEVATE postdoctoral fellowship for the project ‘Religious Landscapes in the Eight Century: Ireland and Northern Francia in Comparison’, financed by the Irish Research Council (IRC) and co-funded by the Marie Curie Actions.  She has been replaced by Dr Miriam Clyne.

Phase two of the project, Monastic Ireland: Landscape and Settlement, will be able to combine more traditional desk-based study and field observation with cutting-edge technologies not usually harnessed in the disciplines of art history and history. Digital surveying techniques, including Lidar and geophysical survey, have the potential to reveal subtle changes in building fabric, and adjacent, now below ground, evidence of settlement not visible to the naked eye. This will provide new information, which will complement and clarify more traditional sources, research and teaching methods.”


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