Bibliography

Katharine
Simms
s. xx / s. xxi

28 publications between 1983 and 2020 indexed
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Works authored

Simms, Katharine, Gaelic Ulster in the Middle Ages: history, culture and society, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2020.  
abstract:
Nowadays, medieval Gaelic Ulster is virtually invisible. Physical evidence from the four centuries stretching between the invasion of the Anglo-Norman baron John de Courcy and the Plantation is rare. Although it left little physical trace, Gaelic Ulster was once a vigorous, confident society, whose members fought and feasted, sang and prayed. It maintained schools of poets, physicians, historians and lawyers, whose studies were conducted largely in their own Gaelic language, rather than in the dead Latin of medieval schools elsewhere in Europe. This monumental book explores the neglected history of Gaelic Ulster between the eleventh and early sixteenth centuries, and sheds further light on its unique society. The first section, ‘Political History’, provides the reader with a chronological narrative, showing the influence of internal and external political change on the Ulster chieftains, while also illustrating how this northern province related to the rest of Ireland. The second section, ‘Culture and Society’, aims to depict the world of Ulster during the Middle Ages. It delves into the ‘plain living and high thinking’ of its somewhat enigmatic society, operating largely independently of towns or coinage, describing in its turn its chieftains, churchmen, scholars, warriors, court ladies and other women, and the amusements and everyday life of the people.
abstract:
Nowadays, medieval Gaelic Ulster is virtually invisible. Physical evidence from the four centuries stretching between the invasion of the Anglo-Norman baron John de Courcy and the Plantation is rare. Although it left little physical trace, Gaelic Ulster was once a vigorous, confident society, whose members fought and feasted, sang and prayed. It maintained schools of poets, physicians, historians and lawyers, whose studies were conducted largely in their own Gaelic language, rather than in the dead Latin of medieval schools elsewhere in Europe. This monumental book explores the neglected history of Gaelic Ulster between the eleventh and early sixteenth centuries, and sheds further light on its unique society. The first section, ‘Political History’, provides the reader with a chronological narrative, showing the influence of internal and external political change on the Ulster chieftains, while also illustrating how this northern province related to the rest of Ireland. The second section, ‘Culture and Society’, aims to depict the world of Ulster during the Middle Ages. It delves into the ‘plain living and high thinking’ of its somewhat enigmatic society, operating largely independently of towns or coinage, describing in its turn its chieftains, churchmen, scholars, warriors, court ladies and other women, and the amusements and everyday life of the people.
Simms, Katharine, Medieval Gaelic sources, Maynooth Research Guides for Irish Local History 14, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2009.
Simms, Katharine, From kings to warlords: the changing political structure of Gaelic Ireland in the later Middle Ages, Studies in Celtic History 7, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1987.

Websites

Crooks, Peter [princip. ed.], Katharine Simms, Philomena Connolly, and A. J. Otway-Ruthven, CIRCLE: a calendar of Irish chancery letters c. 1244-1509, Online: Trinity College, Dublin. URL: <https://chancery.tcd.ie>. 
abstract:
CIRCLE offers users an accessible and accurate summary in English of letters that were issued under the great seal of Ireland and enrolled in the Irish chancery rolls between the reigns of Henry III and Henry VII. [...] The original rolls of the Irish chancery were destroyed in 1922. A principal source for the reconstruction of Irish chancery letters is a Latin calendar published by the Irish Record Commissioners in 1828 under the title: Rotulorum patentium et clausorum cancellariae Hiberniae calendarium, Hen. II–Hen. VII, ed. Edward Tresham (Dublin, 1828). This 1828 calendar is referred to throughout this website as RCH. All known sources of information that supplement RCH—whether printed or in manuscript—have been collated to create CIRCLE. These sources of substitute or supplementary information are listed at the foot of each entry. Further details of how the reconstruction work was carried out are available here. CIRCLE is a calendar, which means that it offers a summary translation rather than a full diplomatic edition of each letter; consequently variant readings are not usually noted. Letters that do not have proper dating clauses have not normally been included.
abstract:
CIRCLE offers users an accessible and accurate summary in English of letters that were issued under the great seal of Ireland and enrolled in the Irish chancery rolls between the reigns of Henry III and Henry VII. [...] The original rolls of the Irish chancery were destroyed in 1922. A principal source for the reconstruction of Irish chancery letters is a Latin calendar published by the Irish Record Commissioners in 1828 under the title: Rotulorum patentium et clausorum cancellariae Hiberniae calendarium, Hen. II–Hen. VII, ed. Edward Tresham (Dublin, 1828). This 1828 calendar is referred to throughout this website as RCH. All known sources of information that supplement RCH—whether printed or in manuscript—have been collated to create CIRCLE. These sources of substitute or supplementary information are listed at the foot of each entry. Further details of how the reconstruction work was carried out are available here. CIRCLE is a calendar, which means that it offers a summary translation rather than a full diplomatic edition of each letter; consequently variant readings are not usually noted. Letters that do not have proper dating clauses have not normally been included.

Works edited

Breatnach, Liam, Ruairí Ó hUiginn, Damian McManus, and Katharine Simms (eds), Proceedings of the XIV International Congress of Celtic Studies, held in Maynooth University, 1–5 August 2011, Dublin: School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 2015.
Barnard, Toby, Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, and Katharine Simms (eds.), ‘A miracle of learning’: studies in manuscripts and Irish learning. Essays in honour of William O’Sullivan, Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998.
McCone, Kim R., and Katharine Simms (eds.), Progress in medieval Irish studies, Maynooth: Department of Old Irish, St. Patrick's College, 1996.
Meek, Christine, and Katharine Simms (eds.), ‘The fragility of her sex’? Medieval Irishwomen in their European context, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1996.
Barry, T. B., Robin Frame, and Katharine Simms (eds), Colony and frontier in medieval Ireland: essays presented to J. F. Lydon, London, Rio Grande, Ohio: Hambledon Press, 1995.

Contributions to journals

Simms, Katharine, “Poems to the medieval O'Donnell chiefs and their historical context”, North American Journal of Celtic Studies 1:1 (May, 2017): 45–60.  
abstract:
A bardic ode which survives in written form is normally of the highest quality, an expensive prestige purchase. Consequently, the 31 extant poems to the medieval O'Donnell chieftains of Tír Conaill, or Donegal, reflect the rise and fall of that family's fortunes from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. Both O'Donnells and O'Neills had newly risen to power around 1200, and the idea that the two families should alternate in leadership of the Northern Uí Néill is a recurring theme in the thirteenth-century poems. The fourteenth century saw O'Donnell power collapse as a result of a prolonged succession struggle, and many chieftains of that period have no surviving poems to their name. When, in the fifteenth century, the O'Neills in turn became enmeshed in civil strife, the O'Donnell poems begin to boast that in early days their ancestors had supplied 10 kings of Tara, where the O'Neills' forebears had produced only seven. In addition to the perceptible relationship of such broad themes with the politics of their day, many details in the texts of the poems confirm and supplement the information on the history of the O'Donnell rulers of Tír Conaill found in the Irish annals.
abstract:
A bardic ode which survives in written form is normally of the highest quality, an expensive prestige purchase. Consequently, the 31 extant poems to the medieval O'Donnell chieftains of Tír Conaill, or Donegal, reflect the rise and fall of that family's fortunes from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. Both O'Donnells and O'Neills had newly risen to power around 1200, and the idea that the two families should alternate in leadership of the Northern Uí Néill is a recurring theme in the thirteenth-century poems. The fourteenth century saw O'Donnell power collapse as a result of a prolonged succession struggle, and many chieftains of that period have no surviving poems to their name. When, in the fifteenth century, the O'Neills in turn became enmeshed in civil strife, the O'Donnell poems begin to boast that in early days their ancestors had supplied 10 kings of Tara, where the O'Neills' forebears had produced only seven. In addition to the perceptible relationship of such broad themes with the politics of their day, many details in the texts of the poems confirm and supplement the information on the history of the O'Donnell rulers of Tír Conaill found in the Irish annals.
Simms, Katharine, “The Donegal poems in the Book of Fenagh”, Ériu 58 (2008): 37–53.
Simms, Katharine, “The poetic Brehon lawyers of early sixteenth-century Ireland”, Ériu 57 (2007): 121–132.  
abstract:
Many of the most eminent judges of Brehon Law in late medieval and early modern Ireland were proficient poets also, and the poetic art was studied in their law schools. It is argued here that this practice arose on a number of grounds. The poets taught the correct grammar and spelling of classical Irish, used by the lawyers in their pleadings. Irish literature supplied a fund of past mythical judgements customarily cited in the Old Irish law tracts as precedents. Poetic utterance was seen as an invocation of divine judgement, and traditionally the early poets were said to have functioned as judges. The law tracts also refer to a 'judge of poetic speech' (brithem bélrai filedachtae), though the precise meaning of the phrase is open to discussion.
abstract:
Many of the most eminent judges of Brehon Law in late medieval and early modern Ireland were proficient poets also, and the poetic art was studied in their law schools. It is argued here that this practice arose on a number of grounds. The poets taught the correct grammar and spelling of classical Irish, used by the lawyers in their pleadings. Irish literature supplied a fund of past mythical judgements customarily cited in the Old Irish law tracts as precedents. Poetic utterance was seen as an invocation of divine judgement, and traditionally the early poets were said to have functioned as judges. The law tracts also refer to a 'judge of poetic speech' (brithem bélrai filedachtae), though the precise meaning of the phrase is open to discussion.
Simms, Katharine, “The contents of later commentaries on the Brehon law tracts”, Ériu 49 (1998): 23–40.
Simms, Katharine, “Nomadry in medieval Ireland: the origins of the creaght or caoraigheacht”, Peritia 5 (1986): 379–391.  
abstract:
The Irish word caoraigheacht, Hiberno-English ‘creaght’, signified a herd of miscellaneous livestock with its attendants, grazing or passing through other people’s lands, with or without the landowners’s permission. The terms has not been noted as occurring earlier than the late fourteenth century, and from this period onwards the leaders of such herds could be members of either the Irish or the Anglo-Irish aristocracy. A creaght could be formed by the settled population of a district temporarily displaced in time of war, moving as a train of refugees, or aggressive migrants, under the leadership of their own chief. There were also certain classes within society – landless nobles, wandering poets or mercenary soldiers – who were accustomed to migrate from one landlord to another, with their band of followers and livestock. It is suggested that an increase in this class of landless noblemen and the warfare associated with the Tudor reconquest combined with an existing pattern of transhumance to bring about the situation in 1610 where society in mid-Ulster was perceived as being organised in creaghts or ‘herds’ rather than into villages.
abstract:
The Irish word caoraigheacht, Hiberno-English ‘creaght’, signified a herd of miscellaneous livestock with its attendants, grazing or passing through other people’s lands, with or without the landowners’s permission. The terms has not been noted as occurring earlier than the late fourteenth century, and from this period onwards the leaders of such herds could be members of either the Irish or the Anglo-Irish aristocracy. A creaght could be formed by the settled population of a district temporarily displaced in time of war, moving as a train of refugees, or aggressive migrants, under the leadership of their own chief. There were also certain classes within society – landless nobles, wandering poets or mercenary soldiers – who were accustomed to migrate from one landlord to another, with their band of followers and livestock. It is suggested that an increase in this class of landless noblemen and the warfare associated with the Tudor reconquest combined with an existing pattern of transhumance to bring about the situation in 1610 where society in mid-Ulster was perceived as being organised in creaghts or ‘herds’ rather than into villages.
Simms, Katharine, “Propaganda use of the Táin in the later Middle Ages”, Celtica 15 (1983): 142–149.

Contributions to edited collections or authored works

Simms, Katharine, “The literary tradition of Ulster to the sixteenth century”, in: Mac Cathmhaoil, Nioclás, Conal Mac Seáin, and Máire Nic Cathmhaoil (eds), Súgán an dúchais: aistí ar ghnéithe de thraidisiún liteartha Chúige Uladh i gcuimhne ar Dhiarmaid Ó Doibhlin, Sraith Adhamhnáin1, Derry: Éigse Cholm Cille; Guildhall Press,, 2018. 23–41.
Simms, Katharine, “O’Friel’s ghost”, in: Carey, John, Kevin Murray, and Caitríona Ó Dochartaigh (eds), Sacred histories: a Festschrift for Máire Herbert, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2015. 401–408.
Simms, Katharine, “The selection of poems for inclusion in the Book of the O'Conor Don”, in: Ó Macháin, Pádraig [ed.], The Book of the O'Conor Don: essays on an Irish manuscript, Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 2010. 32–60.
Simms, Katharine, “Muireadhach Albanach Ó Dálaigh and the classical revolution”, in: Clancy, Thomas Owen, and Murray Pittock (eds.), The Edinburgh history of Scottish literature, 3 vols, vol. 1: From Columba to the Union (until 1707), Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007. 83–90.
Simms, Katharine, “Ó Dálaigh family (per. c.1100–c.1620)”, Oxford dictionary of national biography, Online: Oxford University Press.
Simms, Katharine, “Lynegar, Charles; ...; Ua Duinn, Gilla na Náemh [Various contributions]”, Oxford dictionary of national biography, Online: Oxford University Press. URL: <http://www.oxforddnb.com/search/results/contributors.jsp?contributorId=31884>.
Simms, Katharine, “The dating of two poems on Ulster chieftains”, in: Smyth, Alfred P. [ed.], Seanchas. Studies in early and medieval Irish archaeology, history and literature in honour of Francis J. Byrne, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000. 381–386.
Simms, Katharine, “Literacy and the Irish bards”, in: Pryce, Huw [ed.], Literacy in medieval Celtic societies, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature33, Cambridge, New York, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 238–258.
Simms, Katharine, “Charles Lynegar, the Ó Luinín family and the study of seanchas”, in: Barnard, Toby, Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, and Katharine Simms (eds.), ‘A miracle of learning’: studies in manuscripts and Irish learning. Essays in honour of William O’Sullivan, Aldershot: Ashgate, 1998. 266–283.
Simms, Katharine, “Literary sources for the history of Gaelic Ireland in the post-Norman period”, in: McCone, Kim R., and Katharine Simms (eds.), Progress in medieval Irish studies, Maynooth: Department of Old Irish, St. Patrick's College, 1996. 207–215.
Simms, Katharine, “Frontiers in the Irish church: regional and cultural”, in: Barry, T. B., Robin Frame, and Katharine Simms (eds), Colony and frontier in medieval Ireland: essays presented to J. F. Lydon, London, Rio Grande, Ohio: Hambledon Press, 1995. 177–200.
Simms, Katharine, “The poet as a chieftain’s widow: bardic elegies”, in: Ó Corráin, Donnchadh, Liam Breatnach, and Kim R. McCone (eds.), Sages, saints and storytellers: Celtic studies in honour of Professor James Carney, Maynooth Monographs 2, Maynooth: An Sagart, 1989. 400–411.

As honouree

Duffy, Seán [ed.], Princes, prelates and poets in medieval Ireland: essays in honour of Katharine Simms, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2013.

As honouree

Duffy, Seán [ed.], Princes, prelates and poets in medieval Ireland: essays in honour of Katharine Simms, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2013.