Research

Since completing my dissertation at the Catholic University of America in 2001 I have generally focussed on the history and archaeology of thirteenth century Ireland.  Particularly, my interests lie in thirteenth century Gaelic Ireland and the history and archaeology of north County Roscommon.  Some may look at this region as a bit of a back-water, particularly since even today it is difficult to find many large tour buses that make their way to the area.  However, in medieval Ireland, north Roscommon was a center of political, economic, and military activity, and the region was known for scholarly learning (The Annals of Connacht and  the Annals of Lough Cé, two related bodies of Irish history, were composed there).  Kings of Connacht travelled to England to visit the court of the English Crown, and bishops from the Diocese of Elphin and abbots from monasteries regularly made their way to the Continent.

From 2004-09 I co-directed one of the larger medieval research excavations in Ireland, those at Kilteasheen, Co Roscommon.  The site was a multi-period settlement, but my research interests with the site had to do with the combination of ecclesiastical site and fortified residence at the site.  My colleague, Christopher Read of IT-Sligo, and I uncovered a large cemetery and the remains of a medieval hall house.  The analysis of the data from the site is ongoing.

Since 2013 I have been directing a larger scale research project around Lough Key, one of the major lakes of the central part of Ireland.  It was the home of the MacDermot dynasty, the number two family to the O’Conors of Connacht.  We have been examining the Rockingham moated site and the Rock of Lough Key for two years now, and last summer we began to look at a number of ring forts in the area to the west of the visitors center.  We are publishing the data from the project using an open-data model, and will be publishing our first research report from the first two seasons in the coming year.

Aside from these research projects, I am very interested in all things medieval, but mostly with castles, archaeology, and the ways in which all of these things can be studied using new methods of digital data collection.  I regularly discuss research projects with prospective graduate students, so if you are interested in studying medieval Irish history in the United States, please do not hesitate to write me at finantj@slu.edu.