Current Research

My current book project, Won by the Sword? Identity and Authority in the Irish Borderlands, 1366-1594, explores the mechanisms by which the structure and character of lordship were developed in Gaelic polities in the later Middle Ages. The book follows the MacCarthy Reagh lords of Carbery in West Cork between 1366 and 1594, to trace the ways in which their interactions, allegiances, and self-expressed identity evolved in relation to dynastic opportunities. Between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, Ireland was wracked by economic crises, frequent rebellions, and shifts in governance that by turns helped and hindered the growth of Gaelic lordships like the MacCarthy Reagh. This case study serves as a lens for understanding the social, cultural, and political forces that shaped Irish society in this transitional and transformative period. It also illuminates mechanisms of hybridity and cultural negotiation, contributing to a range of fields, including borderland studies and identity studies.

My next project, Litigating Irishness in Plantation Ireland, will explore the legal strategies employed by Gaelic lords to defend and renegotiate their authority in the face of England’s growing colonial apparatus. The late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a period of intense legal contestation in Ireland, as the indigenous legal system and hierarchies were methodically attacked by the colonial administration. But as English administrators attempted to eradicate Irish legal practices (and with them the legitimacy of the Gaelic aristocracy), the native Irish responded with new and often innovative legal strategies. Through otherwise routine legal interactions like inheritance disputes and small claims suits, Irish lords reframed their authority in the vocabulary of English common law, trading tanistry (the Irish system of partible inheritance) for primogeniture and the language of overlordship for that of landlordship. Through rhetorical and theoretical shifts, they redefined the very basis and nature of their authority.


“Kinship and Kingship:Identity and Authority in the Book of Lismore,” Peritia 27 (2016): 121-140.
Précis published in Eolas 9 (2016): 77-85.


Review of The Geraldines and Medieval Ireland: The Making of a Myth, edited by Seán Duffy and Peter Crooks (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2017) in Eolas 11 (2018): 133-135.

Articles in Preparation

“Overlords, Underlords, and Landlords: Redefining the Lordship in 17th-Century Baltimore”

“Secular and Spiritual Lordship in the Medieval Irish Parish”