Medieval Ireland 1150 - 1550

This exhibition focuses on the later Middle Ages in Ireland, a period that is defined effectively by two ecclesiastical processes – the Church reform movement of the mid 12th Century and the Reformation in the mid 16th Century. This is the period when the English invaded and partly colonised Ireland. The invasion resulted in the existence of two cultures on the island; each with its own language, laws, social system and agricultural practices, and out of which a hybrid Anglo-Irish culture developed during the later Middle Ages. In a wider context, much of the material on display illustrates lifestyles, trades and activities common to much of medieval Europe.

A contemporary view of medieval European society divided it into three categories – bellatores (those who fight), oratores (those who pray) and laboratores (those who work). While such a scheme clearly does not adequately describe the complexity of medieval Irish society, it provides a useful template for the exhibition, which is divided into three galleries, titled Power, Prayer and Work.


Deals with the nobility, both Irish and Anglo-Irish, who ruled medieval society in Ireland.


Explores the dominant features of religious life during the Middle Ages in Ireland.


Focuses on secular, non-noble society, with particular emphasis on economic and social life.

In this Exhibition
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