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Ringforts or Fairy Homes: Oral Understandings and the Practice of Archaeology in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Ireland

  • Máirín Ní Cheallaigh
Article

Abstract

Ringforts, the most numerous archaeological monument in the Irish landscape, have a dual character as places of early medieval habitation and as supernatural points of access to a fairy Otherworld. In my paper, I examine how these understandings interacted with, challenged and reinforced each other in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and how oral perceptions had a significant if generally unacknowledged role in determining supposedly scientific archaeological perceptions of these monuments.

Keywords

Ringforts Fairies Ireland Tradition 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This paper is based upon research that was carried out as part of an IRCHSS Postdoctoral Research Fellowship held under the auspices of the Department of History, School of Histories and Humanities, University of Dublin, Trinity College (TCD). I am also grateful for the support offered by my Fellowship Mentor, Professor David Dickson, and for the facilities that were made available to me by the Centre for Contemporary Irish History, Trinity College. I would also like to thank Professor Ríonach Uí Ógáin, Director of the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin, for permission to cite material contained in the Irish Folklore Commission’s Schools Collection manuscripts.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of History and Archives, Newman BuildingUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland

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