Dr Margaret Murphy

Economic and Social history of Medieval Ireland and Britain; Urban-Rural Interactions; Medieval Diet, Food and Provisioning; Medieval Material Culture; History of Carlow Town and County


I am a medieval historian specialising in the economic and social history of Ireland and Britain, 1200-1500 AD. I have worked on a number of research projects exploring aspects of urban-rural interaction including the landmark Feeding the City Projects, which explored medieval London’s food supply before and after the Black Death.  I have also worked alongside archaeologists in the Discovery Programme, Dublin on the Medieval Rural Settlement project. I particularly enjoy interdisciplinary collaboration with archaeologists and historical geographers. Over the years I have built up expertise in documentary sources written in medieval Latin, especially manorial accounts and various court and inquisition documents.

At present, I am pursuing a number of different research objectives. I am completing papers on objects and possessions as indicators of identity in late-medieval Ireland and the medieval urban network of Kildare/Carlow. I am co-editing a volume of papers arising out of the 50th Anniversary Conference of the Group for the Study of Irish History Settlement on Past, Present and Future of Irish Settlement Studies. I am also co-writing two papers for a forthcoming volume on Medieval Foodways. Closer to home, I am preparing the Royal Irish Academy’s Historic Towns Atlas for Carlow and contributing to forthcoming volumes on Carlow Castle and the manor of Castlemore. I will also be speaking at a number of local history society meetings and national conferences over the next 12 months. In the longer term, I would like to bring together a number of different strands of my research in a monograph on Town and Country in Medieval Ireland.


I have been the Honorary Secretary of the Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement for six years and in that capacity have organised five annual conferences and two thematic conferences.

I am an active member of the Oxford Diet Group. This is an interdisciplinary group of academics and professionals interested in aspects of diet and nutrition, which meets biannually in Oxford and promotes study by means of presentations, workshops and publications.

I have been on the committee of the Irish Committee of Historical Sciences since 2015. This is the national committee for history in Ireland, representing historians in Irish universities, schools, archives and societies.

I have reviewed papers and book proposals for a number of academic journals and publishers.

I have reviewed books for various academic journals.

I have worked with and prepared publicity material for Carlow Museum, Town Council and Tourist office on a number of initiatives including Carlow 800 and Carlow Trails of the Saints

I have provided historical background and context documentation for a number of organisations, including OPW, Heritage Council and various private archaeological consultancies.



The Dublin Region in the Middle Ages: Settlement, Land-Use and Economy (Four Courts Press, Dublin: 2010) [with Michael Potterton]. <https://www.fourcourtspress.ie/books/archives/the-dublin-region-in-the-middle-ages/reviews>

A Medieval Capital and its Grain Supply: Agrarian Production and Distribution in the London Region c.1300 (Historical Geography Research Group, Research Series Monograph no. 30, 1993) [with B. Campbell, J. Galloway & D. Keene].


Edited Collections

Agriculture and Settlement in Ireland (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2015) [edited volume with Matthew Stout]. <https://www.fourcourtspress.ie/books/2015/agriculture-and-settlement-in-ireland/reviews>.


Peer-reviewed articles

‘The Fuel Supply of Medieval London 1300-1400’, Franco-British Studies, 20 (1995), 84-96.

‘Ecclesiastical Censures: an aspect of their Use in Thirteenth Century Dublin’, Archivium Hibernicum, xliv (1989), 89-97.

‘The High Cost of Dying: an Analysis of pro anima bequests in Medieval Dublin’, Studies in Church History, 24 (1987), 111-123.

‘Castles and Deer parks in Anglo-Norman Ireland’, Eolas: The Journal of the American Society for Irish Medieval Studies, Vol. 1, (2006,) 53-72 [with Kieran O’Connor].

‘Investigating living standards in medieval Dublin and its region’ in Sean Duffy (ed.), Medieval Dublin VI (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2005), pp. 224-256 [with Michael Potterton].

‘Fuelling the city: production and distribution of firewood and fuel in London’s region 1290-1400’, Economic History Review xlix (1996), 447-72, [with J. Galloway & D. Keene].

‘Rural Land-use in the Metropolitan Hinterland, 1270-1339: The Evidence of Inquisitiones Post Mortem’, Agricultural History Review, 40, pt. 1 (1992), 1-22 [with B.M.S. Campbell & J. Galloway].

‘Marketing animals and animal products in London’s hinterland circa 1300’, Anthropozoologica, 16 (1992), 93-99 [with J. Galloway].

‘Rotulus clauses de anno 48 Edward III – a reconstruction’, Analecta Hibernica, 35 (1992), 89-154 [with E. Dowse].

‘Feeding the City: Medieval London and its Agrarian Hinterland’, The London Journal, 16, no. 1 (1991), 3-14 [with J. Galloway].


Book chapters

‘The Economy of medieval Ireland’ in Brendan Smith (ed), The Cambridge History of Ireland. Volume One: Ireland, 600-1550 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), pp. 385-414. <https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/the-cambridge-history-of-ireland-a-mammoth-inspiring-work-1.3505790>.

‘Anglo-Norman towns based on castles’ in H.B. Clarke and Sarah Gearty (eds) More Maps and Texts. Sources and the Irish Historic Towns Atlas (Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 2018), pp.134-146. <https://www.ria.ie/more-maps-and-texts-sources-and-irish-historic-towns-atlas>.

‘Death and remembrance in medieval Dublin’, in Salvador Ryan (ed), Death and the Irish: a Miscellany (Dublin: Wordwell Books, 2016), pp. 50-53.

‘From swords to ploughshares: evidence for Templar agriculture in medieval Ireland’, in Martin Browne and Colman O Clabaigh (eds), Soldiers of Christ. The Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar in Medieval Ireland (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2015), pp. 167-83.

‘Manor centres, settlement and agricultural systems in medieval Ireland, 1250-1350’, in M. Murphy and M. Stout (eds),Agriculture and Settlement in Ireland (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2015), pp. 69-100.

‘Introduction’ in M. Murphy and M. Stout (eds), Agriculture and Settlement in Ireland (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2015), pp xvi-xxx [with Matthew Stout].

‘The Archdeacon’s Tale’, in S. Booker and C.N. Peters (eds), Tales of Medieval Dublin. (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2014), pp. 83-91.

‘Agriculture in the Tara/Skreen region, c. AD 1170-1660’, in Muiris O’Sullivan, Chris Scarre & Maureen Doyle (eds), Tara – from the past to the future. Towards a new research agenda (Bray: Wordwell, 2013), pp. 391-400 [with Michael Potterton].

‘The ‘key of the county’: Saggart and the manorial economy of the Dublin March c. 1200-1540’ in Jennifer Ni Gradaigh and Emmett O’Byrne (eds), The March in the Islands of the Medieval West (Brill: Leiden, 2012), pp. 53-78.

‘The later medieval period’, in Paul Stevens and John Channing (eds), Settlement and community in the Fir Tulach Kingdom. Archaeological Excavation on the M6 and N52 Road Schemes (NRA, Dublin, 2012), pp. 49-56.

‘Feeding another city: Dublin and its region in the later middle ages’, in Matthew Davies and James A. Galloway (eds), London and Beyond. Essays in Honour of Derek Keene (London: IHR, 2012), pp. 3-24.

‘Rural settlement in Meath, 1170-1660: the documentary evidence’, in Mary Deevy and Donald Murphy (eds), Places Along the Way: first findings on the M3 (Bray: Wordwell, 2009), pp. 153-68.

‘Mapping a medieval landscape? The Civil Survey and land use in County Dublin’, in John Bradley, Alan Fletcher and Anngret Simms (eds), Dublin in the Medieval World. Studies in honour of Howard B. Clarke (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2009), pp. 316-344 [with Michael Potterton].

‘Tullow, from medieval manor to market town’ in Thomas McGrath (ed), Carlow History and Society (Dublin: Geography Publications, 2008), pp. 235-258.

‘Contribution to the introduction of Shipwreck Inventory of Ireland.  Louth, Meath, Dublin and Wicklow’, compiled by Karl Brady (Stationary Office, Dublin, 2008).

‘Digging with documents: late medieval historical research on the M3 in County Meath’, in Jerry O’Sullivan and Michael Stanley (eds), Roads, Rediscovery and Research (NRA, Dublin, 2008), pp. 117-127.

‘The profits of lordship: Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk and the lordship of Carlow, 1270-1306’ in Linda Doran and James Lyttleton (eds.), Lordship in medieval Ireland: image and reality (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), pp. 75-98.

Contributions to Routledge Encyclopedia of Medieval Ireland, (ed), Sean Duffy (London: Routledge, 2005). Articles on Central Government, Chief Governor, John Cumin, Henry of London, Lordship of Ireland and Parliaments.

Contributions to Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004). New articles on John Cumin, Walter Jorz,Henry de Loundres, David Maccarwell, Fulk of Sandford, John of Sandford and Philip of Slane. Revised articles on: William Bermingham, Ralph of Bristol, Richard de Ferings, Malachy Macaedh, MatthewO’Heney.

‘Archbishops and Anglicisation: Dublin, 1181-1271’, in James Kelly & Daire Keogh (eds), History of the Catholic Diocese of Dublin (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2000), pp. 72-91.

‘Feeding Medieval Cities: Some Historical Approaches’, in Martha Carlin & Joel T. Rosenthal (eds), Food and Eating in Medieval Europe (London: The Hambledon Press, 1998), pp. 117-132.

‘Balancing the Concerns of Church and State, the Archbishops of Dublin, 1181-1228’, in T.B. Barry, R. Frame & K. Simms (eds), Colony and Frontier in Medieval Ireland: Essays presented to J. F. Lydon (London: The Hambledon Press, 1995), pp. 41-56.

Further Research Outputs

Conference papers

October 2019: St Martin’s Fair. A conference celebrating medieval Limerick and its people. King’s Island, Limerick.

Paper: English and Welsh Women in Post-Conquest Ireland. 

October 2019: Irish Agriculture Through the Ages: Fourth Annual John Bradley Memorial Conference, Kilkenny Castle.

Keynote Paper: Agricultural products and marketing in Medieval Kilkenny.

September 2017: American Society for Irish Medieval Studies Conference, Glenstal Abbey,          Paper: Objects and Identity. A consideration of ‘things’ in late medieval Ireland.

May 2017: Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement Annual Conference on ‘Historic Settlement in South Kildare’, Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow

Paper: Towns and boroughs in South Kildare 1200-1500.

April 2017: Conference on ‘Objects and Possessions: Material Goods in a Changing World 1200-1800’, University of Southampton

Paper: Thirty-three furs and eleven pairs of silken shoes’ – possession of the elite in late-medieval Ireland.

November 2016: Diet Group Symposium on ‘Food security’, Rewley House, Oxford.

Paper: Food security and insecurity in medieval Irish towns.

July 2016: Twenty third International Medieval Congress, Leeds University.

Paper: Diet, status, and ethnicity in medieval Ireland: the documentary evidence.

July 2015: Magna Carta and the Making of the Metropolis symposium. Wood Quay Civic Offices, Dublin

Paper: Dublin’s Witness to Magna Carta: Henry of London, Archbishop of Dublin.

July 2015: 29th Irish Conference of Medievalists, UCD, Dublin.

Paper: Medieval Carlow: origins, growth and decline.

May 2015: Diet Group Symposium on ‘Dairy Foods’ Rewley House, Oxford.

Paper: Dairy products in early medieval Ireland: the evidence of Aisling Meic Conglinne. 

March 2015: Town and Country in late medieval Ireland. A conference in memory of John Bradley. Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.

Paper: ‘Going to town’: rural consumers in urban markets in medieval Ireland.

September 2014: Third Glenstal History Conference. Soldiers of Christ: The Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar in Medieval Ireland. Glenstal Abbey.

Paper: From swords to ploughshares. Templar agriculture in medieval Ireland

September 2014: European Urban History Association’s 12th International Conference, Lisbon, Portugal

Paper: The water supply of medieval and early modern Dublin: municipal benevolence or

instrument of power?


Keynote speeches

October 2019: Irish Agriculture Through the Ages: Fourth Annual John Bradley Memorial Conference, Kilkenny Castle.

Keynote Paper: Agricultural products and marketing in Medieval Kilkenny


Conference organisation

I have organised the following conferences for the Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement:

March 2019: City Assembly House, Dublin, GSIHS@50. Past, Present and Future of Irish Settlement Studies

May 2018: Lawlors Hotel, Dungarvan,  Historic Settlement: Dungarvan and West Waterford.

May 2017: Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow, Historic Settlement: South Kildare

May 2016: Twin Trees Hotel, Ballina, Historic Settlement in Co Mayo.

May 2015: Malone Lodge Hotel, Belfast, Historic Settlement: Belfast and Region

March 2015: All Hallows College, Dublin, Church and Settlement in Ireland: Landscape, Life and Legacy

May 2014: Maritime Hotel, Bantry, Historic Settlement: Bantry and West Cork.


I have also co-organised the following conferences:

February 2016: Carlow College, Under the protection of the Most High God’? Ethical and Theological Perspectives on the 1916 Rising

August 2013: Carlow College, Through the years. Carlow 800 History Conference


Newspaper and other publications

‘Growth and decline: the changing fortunes of Carlow town in the later medieval period’ in Carloviana, 64 (2016), 161-66.

Carlow Castle. Medieval Fortress on the Barrow. Pictorial guide produced for Carlow 800 (2014).

‘Agriculture and Rural Settlement in Medieval Wexford – revisiting the sources’ in Áitreabh. The newsletter of the Society for Irish Historic Settlement, No 13 (2008), pp. 1-6.

‘Feeding Dublin: investigating the hinterland of Dublin in the medieval period’, Heritage Outlook, Winter 2005/Spring 2006 [with Michael Potterton].


Media interactions

I appeared in the 2006 TG4 Documentary Cailleach Cill Cheannaigh about Alice Kyteler and the Kilkenny Witchcraft Trial

I have been interviewed on RTE’s The History Show and Newstalk’s Talking history and on KCLR


Other research related activity

October 2018: Old Athlone Society, Sheraton hotel, Athlone

Paper: From Farm to Table: Agriculture and Diet in Medieval Ireland.

October 2017: Athy Local History Group, Inaugural Lecture.

Paper: The Urban Network in South Kildare in the Later Medieval Period.

November 2015: North Wexford Historical Society, Third Dr Aidan Breen Memorial lecture, Gorey Library.

Paper: From farm to table: agriculture and diet in medieval Ireland.

October 2015: Carlow College Public Lecture Series, Cobden Hall.

Paper: Agriculture and settlement in Ireland.

April 2015: Ros Tapestry/Heritage Ireland lecture series. The Library, New Ross.

Paper: The Norman impact on the Irish countryside: farming for the market.

Awards & Funding