Blarney Castle, the medieval home of the MacCarthy lords of Muskerry, is one of Ireland’s best-known castles. Many visitors to Ireland include a trip to the castle in their itinerary, often queuing to kiss the Blarney Stone in hope of acquiring the ‘gift of the gab’. Yet, despite the castle’s ubiquitous image on postcards and tourist promotional literature, the building’s historical and archaeological significance as a native lordly residence are not widely appreciated. Illustrated in full colour, this book brings the castle’s architecture to the fore, placing it in the context of an expansive native lordship in late medieval Munster, and showing how changes in the layout and appearance of the building can be attributed to the castle’s occupants, who continued to redefine their social standing and cultural identity through the Tudor reconquest and beyond. The book includes a timeline to help situate developments at Blarney in a wider context, as well as a walking guide that will add an extra dimension to any tour of the castle. A handy glossary explains technical terms and phrases.
‘Each section of the Castle is clearly discussed in a logical format supplemented by detailed drawings and photographs … the final section of the book provides a clear, detailed, walking guide to the castle for visitors … those who understand and appreciate the fact that this is one of the finest and most interesting of Irish tower houses will appreciate and be rewarded by this valuable and impressive study', Seán Ó Murchú, North Munster Antiquarian Journal (2013).
‘This is a book that should appeal to scholars and a wider audience. It is written in a clear and accessible manner, is beautifully illustrated with some striking photographs, and its focus is on one of Ireland’s iconic buildings. Its five chapters include full scholarly apparatus but there is, in addition, a walking guide to the castle included at the back … The author and publisher are to be warmly commended for producing such a fine book … this book is to be welcomed very much indeed … The writing is very clear and is supported with an array of colour photographs, line drawings and floor-plans of the castle provided by the Blarney estate. The tone is authoritative, its conclusions are convincing. Lyttleton’s work is so well executed in this chapter that it should serve as an exemplar for others contemplating the study of a tower house. I would go so far as to propose that university archaeology departments might use this book as a required text for undergraduates, in tandem with field-work training on a different tower house every year … this is a book that offers so very much. Dr Lyttleton offers many new insights and vistas of Blarney Castle, and his careful descriptions will facilitate comparative studies by scholars in this shamefully neglected field', Henry Jefferies, Irish Economic and Social History (2012).
‘Blarney Castle has acquired iconic status but by the same token it can be overlooked that it is a genuine medieval building with a significant history. Lyttleton sets out to correct this by providing a serious look at the castle’s architecture and history, but he does so in a book far from dull or off-putting for the interested tourist or amateur, with its excellent colour illustrations both modern and ancient throughout, as well as plans and diagrams. Sadly it is seldom we see books that are at once both so academically respectable and attractive to the intelligent layman', Books Ireland (December 2011).