Skip Trinity Banner Navigation

Skip to main content »

Trinity College Dublin

Personal Information
College Photo Name Simms, Mary Katharine
Main Department History
College Title Fellow Emeritus
College Tel  
Fax +353 1 896 1790
Born Dublin 1946; B.A. Mod. (Dubl.) History and Political Science 1969, Ph.D. (Dubl.) in Medieval History 1976, thesis title 'Gaelic lordships in Ulster in the later middle ages'. Spent six years at Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, School of Celtic Studies, as Research Scholar (1972-5), and as Junior Research Assistant surveying the extant corpus of Irish bardic poetry (1977-80). Lecturer in medieval Irish History at University College Cork 1971-2, in history departments of St Mary's College of Education, Belfast, and Carysfort College of Education, Blackrock, Co. Dublin 1975-7. Appointed as lecturer in the former Medieval History Department, Trinity College Dublin 1980, made Fellow 1990 and Senior Lecturer 1993. Elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2008. Retired 31st May 2010. Now Research Associate, Centre for Research in Medieval History, School of Histories and Humanities, Trinity College Dublin.
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
Basque Basic Basic Basic
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
French Fluent Medium Basic
German Fluent Medium Basic
Irish Fluent Medium Basic
Spanish Medium Basic Basic
Description of Research Interests
Social history of Gaelic Ireland 1200-1500 A.D. Historical sources in the Irish language (annals, genealogies, bardic poetry, later legal commentaries). Military and ecclesiastical history of medieval Ireland.
Research Interests
Family, Church history Gaelic lordships in Ireland and Scotland, social and political development Medieval Ireland The literary sources
Research Projects
Project title The Irish Chancery Project
Summary Member of the international steering committee for this IRCHSS-funded project (Principal Investigator Dr David Ditchburn, Associate investigators Dr Peter Crooks and Prof. Sean Duffy) which seeks to advance our understanding of the ‘making of Ireland’ between the high Middle Ages and the dawn of the modern era—one of the most formative periods in Ireland’s past—by publishing on the web and in print an English calendar of the rolls of the medieval Irish chancery, c. 1216–1509. The chancery was a key organ of English government in medieval Ireland. Access to its records is, however, severely restricted. The original chancery rolls suffered a series of calamities from the 13th century, culminating in 1922 with the destruction of the last 123 original rolls. A Latin calendar produced by the Irish Record Commission (1828) does not compensate for their destruction: it was poorly edited and lacks an adequate critical apparatus. Moreover, it offers no English translations and the text is printed in ‘record type’, reflecting abbreviations in the original manuscripts. This project will remedy these deficiencies by reconstructing the chancery rolls from transcripts and calendars dating from 14th–19th centuries located in Ireland and England. The outcome will be a web-based English calendar, to be followed by a multi-volume printed edition. This project will revolutionise medieval Irish studies by providing both specialists and the general public with access to an unparalleled source of information. More generally, the project will generate interest from scholars working on administrative history in a Europe-wide context and on the ‘Anglicization’ of the British Isles in Middle Ages. It will also stimulate exciting comparative work across the medieval–modern divide on the adaptation (or ‘creolisation’) of metropolitan governing practices and values in a colonial context, and on the processes of state formation and cultural exchange in the British Isles and the early modern Atlantic world.
Funding Agency Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Type of Project Thematic Project
Date from 1/7/08
Date to 30/6/11
Person Months

Publications and Other Research Outputs
Peer Reviewed
Katharine Simms, Medieval Gaelic Sources, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2009, 1-128pp
Changing patterns of regnal succession in later medieval Ireland in, editor(s)Frederique Lachaud, Michael Penman , Making and breaking the rules: succession in medieval Europe c. 1000-c. 1600/Etablir et abolir les normes: la succession dans l'Europe medievale vers 1000-vers 1600, Turnhout, Belgium, Brepols, 2008, pp161 - 172, [Katharine Simms]
Katharine Simms, The Donegal poems in the Book of Fenagh, Ériu, 58, 2008, p37 - 53
Images of the galloglass in poems to the MacSweeneys in, editor(s)Seán Duffy , The World of the Galloglass, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2007, pp106 - 123, [M. Katharine Simms]
Katharine Simms, The Poetic Brehon Lawyers of early sixteenth-century Ireland, Eriu, 57, 2007, p121 - 132
More Publications and Other Research Outputs >>>

Log in to the TCD Portal
Last Updated:01-OCT-2014