Lost World of the Irish Clans


To raise philanthropic funds in the US to support research in late medieval/early modern Irish history at UCC, focussing on detailed investigation of the Gaelic and Gaelicized clans and families who ruled the various regions of the country c.1250-c.1650. There has long been major US interest in Irish Family and Local History. This project seeks to attract the investment of private donors interested in exploring Irish Family History long before the Famine – during a time when English power on the island was limited and when Irish society was dominated by dozens of Irish noble families, or clans, ruling parts the country virtually independently. Despite growing awareness of the importance of local clans in the history of medieval and early modern Ireland, the subject has not received the sort of sustained attention it requires to challenge the prevailing English-centred narrative of the period. By funding research in a number of key areas the project will help recover the lost world of the Irish clans and recalibrate how the general history of late medieval and early modern Ireland is presented.

UCC has a leading position in this area of research.  From James Hogan and Tadhg O’Donnchadha in the Free State era, through the seminal publications of Kenneth Nicholls in the 1970s and ‘80s, to the work of the current group of scholars employed in the university, UCC has often pioneered study of the medieval Irish clans and their territories. Until now, this research has been conducted by individuals, working in isolation in the university. As an interdisciplinary project, involving UCC historians, Gaelic language scholars, and archaeologists, ‘The World of the Irish Clans’ will create the critical mass to deliver the first comprehensive overview of the subject.

How much and what for: We are seeking total funding of €1.6 million to finance six inter-connected research strands, from the genealogies of the ruling Gaelic and Gaelicized clans to the organization and exploitation of their territories and impact on the landscape. Each strand will be separately financed, with the opportunity for donors to fund named research scholarships and fellowships and support the work that the scholars, fellows and the research leaders undertake. The donor/s will also be named on the final published outputs.

The principal investigator of this project is Dr David Edwards. He is contactable at d.edwards@ucc.ie. Our video shows the scope and potential of the project: Lost World of the Irish Clans.


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