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IHTA Town Type Series: Monastic Towns

29 April 2020

As part of IHTA Online, Anngret Simms, MRIA and founding editor of the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, discusses the native Gaelic town type – the Monastic Town.

For some Lockdown Reading over the coming weeks we are revisiting the town-type essays that were published along side the launch of each of the IHTA Online town types:


Monastic Towns – Anngret Simms Eary Modern, Gaelic and Plantation Towns – Raymond Gillespie
Viking Towns – Howard Clarke Towns in the Eighteenth Century – Colm Lennon
Anglo-Norman Towns – Michael Potterton Towns in Nineteenth-Century –  Jacinta Prunty

The first in the series is by Anngret Simms discussing the Monastic Town, or 'pre-colonial' urban settlements. In it are comparisions with the IHTA published towns of Kells, Armagh, Tuam and Kildare, all of which are freely available as part of IHTA Online

Map view of Armagh city and the new Blackwater fort, 1602 by Richard Bartlett (National Library of Ireland MS 2656). It appears as Map 4 in IHTA no. 18 Armagh by Catherine McCullough and W.H. Crawford (Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 2007).

To go directly to Towns of Monastic Origin where IHTA nos Kildare by J.H. Andrews; 4 Kells by Anngret Simms with Katharine Simms; Downpatrick by R.H. Buchanan & Anthony Wilson; 18 Armagh by Catherine McCullough & W.H. Crawford; and 18 Tuam by J.A. Claffey are freely available click here. 

Further reading

For more on this topic, here is an excerpt from Reading the maps by H.B. Clarke and Jacinta Prunty on the 'So-called monastic town'. There are some useful questions to test yourself at the end of the chapter. 

To read the next essay by Howard Clarke on the Viking Town click here

Cover image: Kells, 1836, reconstruction of the Ordnance Survey 1:2500 and appears as Map 2 in IHTA no. 4 Kells by Anngret Simms with Katharine Simms and the full version is available to download here.

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