Lecturer in Medieval History
Department of History
Trinity College Dublin

Research Interests:
My primary research interest is in Ireland in the period 1171-1541 and, arising from that, in the wider ‘English world’ or ‘Plantagenet empire’ of which Ireland formed an important part. Before returning to Trinity in 2013, I was a Past and Present Society Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research and a Lecturer in Late Medieval History at the University of East Anglia. I am currently completing a monograph entitled England’s First Colony: Power, Conflict and Colonialism in the Lordship of Ireland, 1361-1460. I am the principal editor of ‘CIRCLE: A Calendar of Irish Chancery Letters, c.1244-1509’ (, a reconstruction of the Irish chancery rolls destroyed in the 1922 cataclysm at the Four Courts. A four-volume print edition of CIRCLE will appear with the Irish Manuscripts Commission. In September 2013, I co-founded (with Professor S. Duffy) the Trinity Medieval Ireland Series (TMIS), the first volume of which has been published as: The Geraldines and Medieval Ireland: The Making of a Myth.

Select Publications:


  • Ed. with Timothy H. Parsons, Empires and Bureaucracy in World History: From Late Antiquity to the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 
  • Ed. with D. Green and W. Mark Ormrod, The Plantagenet Empire, 1259-1453. Harlaxton Medieval Studies XXVI. Donnington: Shaun Tyas,2016. 
  • Ed. with Seán Duffy, The Geraldines and medieval Ireland: The Making of a Myth. Trinity Medieval Ireland Series I. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2016. 
  • Ed., Government, War and Society in Medieval Ireland: Essays by Edmund Curtis, A.J. Otway-Ruthven and James Lydon. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2008.

Articles and Book Chapters

  • ‘The Structure of Politics in Theory and Practice: Colonial Ireland, 1210-1541’, in Brendan Smith (ed.), The Cambridge History of Ireland, vol. I: 1000-1550. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. 
  • ‘Comital Ireland, 1333-1534’, in David Crouch and Hugh Doherty (eds.), The Earl in Medieval Britain. Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2017. 
  • (with David Green and W. Mark Ormrod), ‘The Plantagenets and Empire in the Late Middle Ages’, in Peter Crooks, David Green and W. Mark Ormrod, The Plantagenet Empire, 1259-1453, pp 1-34. Donnington: Shaun Tyas, 2016.
  • ‘The Ascent and Descent of Desmond under Lancaster and York’, in Peter Crooks and Seán Duffy (eds), The Geraldines and Medieval Ireland: The Making of a Myth, pp 233-63. Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2016. 
  • ‘Before Humpty Dumpty: The First English Empire and the Brittleness of Bureaucracy, 1259-1453’ in Peter Crooks and Timothy H. Parsons (eds.), Empires and Bureaucracy in World History: From Late Antiquity to the Twentieth Century, pp 250-87Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
  • (with Timothy H. Parsons) ‘Empires, Bureaucracy, and the Paradox of Power’, in Peter Crooks and Timothy H. Parsons (eds.), Empires and Bureaucracy in World History: From Late Antiquity to the Twentieth Century, pp 1-28. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
  • ‘James the Usurper and the Origins of the Talbot-Ormond feud’, in Seán Duffy (ed.), Princes, Prelates and Poets in Medieval Ireland: Essays in Honour of Katharine Simms, pp 159-84Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2013.
  • ‘Reconstructing the Past: The Case of the Medieval Irish Chancery Rolls’, in N.M. Dawson and Felix Larkin (eds.), Lawyers, the Law and History: Irish Legal History Society Discourses and Other Papers, 2006-2011, pp. 281309. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2013.
  • ‘Constructing a “Laboratory for Empire”: Colonial Ireland from the Statute of Kilkenny to Poynings Law’, SHISO [Japanese Intellectual Journal], no. 1063 (2012), pp 9-43.
  • ‘State of the Union: Perspectives on English Imperialism in the Late Middle Ages’, Past and Present: A Journal of Historical Studies, no. 211 (2011) pp 1-40.
  • ‘Representation and Dissent: “Parliamentarianism” and the Structure of Politics in Colonial Ireland, c.1370-1420’, The English Historical Review, 125:512 (2010), pp 1-34.
  • Ed. ‘The Medieval Irish Town by A.J. Otway-Ruthven’, in Medieval Dublin X (2010), pp 299-311.
  • 2009. ‘Medieval Ireland and the Wider World’, Studia Hibernica, 35, pp 167-86.
  • 2009. ‘Negotiating Authority in a Colonial Capital: Dublin and the Windsor Crisis, 1369-78’, in Medieval Dublin IX (2009), pp 131-51.
  • ‘The Lecky Professors’, in Peter Crooks (ed.), Government, War and Society in Medieval Ireland: Essays by Edmund Curtis, A.J. Otway-Ruthven and James Lydon, pp 23-53. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2008.
  • ‘Government, War and Society in Medieval Ireland: A Guide to Recent Work’, in Peter Crooks (ed.), Government, War and Society in Medieval Ireland: Essays by Edmund Curtis, A.J. Otway-Ruthven and James Lydon, pp 353-75. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2008.
  • ‘The “Calculus of Faction” and Richard II’s Duchy of Ireland, c.1382-9’, in Fourteenth Century England V  (2008), pp 94-115
  • ‘The Arrest of Sir Christopher Preston and the Fifth Earl of Kildare in 1418: A Missing Membrane’, Analecta Hibernica, no. 40 (2007), pp 1-15.
  • ‘Factions, Feuds and Noble Power in the Lordship of Ireland, c.1356-1496’, Irish Historical Studies, 35:140 (2007), pp 425-54.
  • ‘ “Hobbes”, “Dogs” and Politics in the Ireland of Lionel of Antwerp, c.1361-6’ [The Denis Bethell Memorial Prize Essay], The Haskins Society Journal: Studies in Medieval History, 16 (2005), pp 117-48.
  • ‘Divide and Rule: Factionalism as Royal Policy in the Lordship of Ireland, 1171-1265’, Peritia: The Journal of the Medieval Academy of Ireland, 19 (2005), pp 263-307.

Funded Projects:

Beyond 2022: Ireland’s National Memory (

On 30 June 1922 the Treasury Room containing Ireland’s documentary heritage dating back to the thirteenth century was destroyed in a cataclysmic explosion and fire at the Four Courts. On the centenary of that blaze in 2022, this project will launch a Virtual Record Treasury that reconstructs the nation’s archives and its collective memories. In partnership with the National Archives of Ireland, the National Archives of the United Kingdom and other national and international institutions, Beyond 2022 seeks to ensure a lasting and inspirational legacy beyond the current decade of centenaries. The project has obtained major funding for a 24 month project (2017-2019) from Irish Research Council New Horizons Scheme (€219,992.50). The centrepiece of the project is a new online resource – the Virtual Record Treasury – which will provide a digital reconstruction of the Record Treasury of the Public Record Office of Ireland as it existed in 1922, on the eve of the fire. This will become not only an essential platform for academic research but also a public resource with global reach and impact among the Irish at home and abroad. The Virtual Record Treasury will provide: 

-Data visualizations enabling researchers to explore the treasury of the Public Record Office and its collections 

-A complete inventory of loss and survival from the 1922 fire. 

-Digitizations of the surviving originals, transcripts and calendars. 

-Detailed guides to the significance of those collections from the thirteenth century to the Victorian era. 

-A vital hub linking replacement material held in archival repositories in Ireland and across the world. 

The Irish Chancery Project (

This IRCHSS-funded project seeks to advance our understanding of the ‘making of Ireland’ between the high Middle Ages and the dawn of the modern era-one of the most formative periods in Ireland’s past-by publishing on the web and in print an English calendar of the rolls of the medieval Irish chancery, c. 1216-1509. The chancery was a key organ of English government in medieval Ireland. Access to its records is, however, severely restricted. The original chancery rolls suffered a series of calamities from the 13th century, culminating in 1922 with the destruction of the last 123 original rolls. A Latin calendar produced by the Irish Record Commission (1828) does not compensate for their destruction: it was poorly edited and lacks an adequate critical apparatus. Moreover, it offers no English translations and the text is printed in ‘record type’, reflecting abbreviations in the original manuscripts. This project will remedy these deficiencies by reconstructing the chancery rolls from transcripts and calendars dating from 14th-19th centuries located in Ireland and England. The outcome will be a web-based English calendar, to be followed by a multi-volume printed edition. This project will revolutionise medieval Irish studies by providing both specialists and the general public with access to an unparalleled source of information. More generally, the project will generate interest from scholars working on administrative history in a Europe-wide context and on the ‘Anglicization’ of the British Isles in Middle Ages. It will also stimulate exciting comparative work across the medieval-modern divide on the adaptation (or ‘creolisation’) of metropolitan governing practices and values in a colonial context, and on the processes of state formation and cultural exchange in the British Isles and the early modern Atlantic world. 

Courses Taught:
At undergraduate level, I have taught widely on Irish, British and European history from the later Roman Empire to the Reformation. In the Freshman years, I lecture on medieval Ireland (1014-1318), Britain (1066-1215), and the Hundred Years War. I also offer a group project option on ‘Chivalry, War and Violence in the Middle Ages’ and co-ordinate the Senior Freshman module ‘Imagining History’, which offers students the opportunity to engage with history as it is presented in fiction and film.

For Sophisters, I offer List 1 special subjects on both Irish and British history, which will normally be available in alternate years: ‘Plantagenet Ireland, c.1327-99’; and ‘Richard II: Kingship, Tyranny and Revolution’. My List 2 module – ‘Medieval Globetrotters: Exploration and World Conquest in the Age of the Black Death’ – explores hemispheric interactions across Eurasia during a distinctive phase of world historical development. I am happy to supervise doctoral research projects on many aspects of political culture and society in late-medieval Ireland and the wider English world, particularly projects that exploit the rich records produced in the medieval English colony in Ireland. I currently supervise doctoral students working on aspects of the legal history and parliamentary culture of later medieval Ireland and the British Isles.

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