Kilmallock conference will attempt to ‘re-imagine’ 16th century Ireland

The northern arcade of the cloister in the Dominican Priory in Kilmallock, which was restored by the Office of Public Works. Picture: David O'Shea
THE 16th century in Ireland remains one of the least studied periods in our history, but that will change with a conference to take place in Kilmallock in June.

THE 16th century in Ireland remains one of the least studied periods in our history, but that will change with a conference to take place in Kilmallock in June.

The medieval town will host The 16th Century Walled Town conference on the period, with archaeologists, historians and academics attending.

The group will examine Kilmallock, which has 70% of its walls surviving today, and other walled towns in an effort to ‘re-imagine’ what Ireland’s urban areas may have looked like during the 16th century.

Organised by Limerick City and County Council and funded by City of Culture and the Irish Walled Towns Network, the event will examine evidence from Limerick city, Kilmallock, and other towns like Kilkenny, Galway, Kinsale and Youghal - focusing on town fortifications, the role of the merchant classes, and the function, design, origins and influences of their domestic buildings.

“The 16th century is an important period in history as it marks the transition from the medieval to the modern world, including changes in warfare and its consequences for town defences,” explained Sarah McCutcheon, executive archaeologist with Limerick’s local authority.

“Due, however, to the social upheavals of the 17th century and the loss of much of our documentation it is a period that is not much explored or understood.

“The conference aims to establish the historic background and set the scene for this period and then to look at the remaining evidence, whether cartographic, first-hand accounts, historical documents, antiquarian drawings, or the remaining structures.

“The intention is to draw together a range of experts to explore a variety of strands,” she added.

Brian Hodkinson, acting curator of Limerick Museum will speak at the event and said “one primary aims of the conference will be to examine the appearance of Limerick” during the period.

As the subject matter has a national appeal, delegates will come from further afield, but the conference is open to local audiences. It takes place from June 5-6 in Friars’ Gate Theatre in Kilmallock.

Full information on www.limerick.ie. Booking is essential.