Thursday, March 12, 2015

CARLOW archaeologist Dr James Lyttleton recently launched his book The Jacobean plantation in seventeenth-century Offaly at the Offaly History Centre in Tullamore.

The Lyttleton family: Philomena, James, the author, Gerard and Tomás

The launch was performed by Banagher-based historian and retired teacher James Scully, who said the book “brings a pivotal period of history to the forefront of Irish historical studies”.

Dr Lyttleton is son of Gerard and Philomena, Iona Drive, Rathnapish, Carlow. He was joined by his parents and brother Tomás at the Tullamore launch.

The publication, which is available from the Offaly History Centre, describes how buildings such as tower houses, fortified houses and churches provide insights into the life and ways of the natives and planters who lived through these tumultuous times in Irish history. Prior to the launch, Dr Lyttleton gave a lecture on the book, which focused in particular on the tower houses of both settlers and the Gaelic Irish that were built during that period.

He told his audience that the policy of monarchs in Ireland from the reign of Henry VIII and the English Reformation onwards had been to provoke the native lords into rebellion, to then confiscate their lands and give to the English, Scottish and Welsh planters.

In Offaly, the native landowners remained in place and retained most of their land.

Dr Lyttleton graduated from UCD with a BA in archaeology and history in 1995 and an MA in archaeology in 1997.

He taught mediaeval Irish archaeology in UCC. In 2008, he was awarded a post-doctorate research fellowship in Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada to carry out a comparative archaeological study of settlements established by the Lords Baltimore in 17th century Ireland, Newfoundland and Maryland.

Over the years, the Carlow author has edited and contributed to a number of scholarly publications arising from this research.

In 2001, he published a book on one of Ireland most famous fortresses, Blarney Castle, tracing how the castle developed over time and how the MacCarthys, lords of Muskerry, used the building as a physical metaphor to express their power.

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By Charlie Keegan
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