Monday, 25 April 2016

Sketching at UCD Experimental Archaeology Centre

Mesolithic House in UCD

Early Medieval Beehive house

My pen and marker sketches done while at the UCD experimental archaeological centre on Saturday

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Visiting to UCD Centre of Experimental Archaeology

Guided tour of the centre by Prof Aidan O'Sullivan

The early medieval beehive hut

sketching the Mesolithic hut 

They lit a fire inside the beehive hut so we could chill out and soak up the vibe 
I spent the day yesterday sketching in the UCD Experimental Archaeology Centre, sketching there with Sceitse, was one of the coolest places I have sketched in. More about the UCD Experimental Archaeology Centre here:

More about Sceitse here:

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Inside a Medieval Parish Church

Continuing on from my post a few days ago of the outside of a Medieval parish church and its environs, here is a cutaway of the interior of that same church. It is mostly based on evidence from the eastern side of Ireland, so would be firmly within the anglo-Norman area. Since most medieval churches in Ireland were left go to ruin after the reformation, very little evidence of the interior of medieval churches survives in Ireland, besides the walls and structure itself, essentially everything made of stone. Because of this, the layout and walls etc are based on Irish evidence but the rest mostly comes from Britain, i.e. everything that isnt stone.  So the interior of the church structure is mainly a combination of Wells, Co. Carlow, Kilfane, Co. Kilkenny and Faithlegg, Co. Waterford. There are two main parts in a parish church, the nave and the chancel, ill deal with both individually


The nave is where the parishioners were situated in a church during mass, everyone who wasnt clergy essentially. Probably the first thing that would grab most peoples attention is the wall painting and its colour.We are so used to the drab and plain interiors of churches these days, it would quite surprise us just how vibrantly colourful medieval churches were. Most people were illiterate so wall paintings served the dual purpose of beautifying an interior and helping illustrate some of the biblical stories. Its the same with the houses, most were many vibrant colours, it seems the people of the middle ages were quite colourful lot! The interior wall painting here is mostly based off Kempley with elements from other churches in Britain like St. Johns the Baptists church in Clayton, Attleborough church in Norfolk, Broughton in Cambs, and copford church in Essex.

 Most people would have stood in the nave but from excavations there has often been found a small number of seating, most likely for the rich or better off in the community. The seating here is loosely based off ones found in AllSaints, Incklingham, UK. The stoup beside the door is based off one in St. Mullins co. Carlow, this would have been used to baptise babies, these are often found by door, essentially so children were baptised before they entered into the church proper. The statue recess is based off such a recess in Kilfane but could have been a wall press too. Separating the nave from the chancel is the Rood or chancel screen, a partitition that divided the interior space of all churches, this one is based off Barton Turf Church, UK. The roof is Kempleys' roof and it is theorised in England that alot of their churches had ceilings created by the tie beam or bottom collar, instead of open to the roof, which would have been plastered over. The reason for this is that ceilings would have been easier to keep clean, could be even painted on, as the upper parts of the roofs often could be very dirty, full of cobwebs and even bats, so keeping them out of view from below, made alot of sense.


The crowning glory of a medieval church was often its chancel window, the one here is a lovely tracery window  in the east gable of Killeen, Co. Meath. Many windows in churches would have had glazing or stained glass but others would have just remained open, only to be closed by wooden shutters that could slid into place from the inside. The altar itself is based on one in St. Caimins church, Inis Cealtra, co, Clare. Illustrations from the time show a cross and two candles ontop of a table cloth as alter decorations, as well as wooden board around the base of the alter. Altars are usually found in Ireland to be either against the gable wall or almost abutting it.

On either side of the altar are two statue recesses, found in Kilfane church in Kilkenny. The statues throughout the church are loosely based on ones from the middle ages found in Fethard. co. Tipperary and others from Medieval Waterford city. Just above the altar in Kilfane there was a slight rectangular recess, here I inserted alabaster carvings, which have been found in churchyards in Ireland and were probably imported from Nottingham and elsewhere in England.

To the left of the altar is the sedilla and the piscina. The piscina is from St. Mullins in Carlow, piscinas were used to wash the holy vessels after the mass. This is the recess closest to the chancel gable on the left wall. Usually besides them were priest seats or sedillas, which are kind of self explanatory, the priests or deacons could rest here in various parts of the mass, this particular double seat is from Kilfane.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Medieval Parish Church at twilight

An illustration of a medieval parish church based on several parish churches I have visited around Ireland but also with evidence from Britain. Parish churches were one of the most important structures ever built in Ireland, as with parish churches came the division of land into parishes. This division seems likely to have begun before the arrival of Normans but it was with the Anglo Normans where it reached its zenith and continues even to this day as one of the ways of dividing the land.

Its hard for us to imagine these days, the power that the church had in the middle ages. It was a power so complete and utter that there was no escaping it. They were the most powerful institution in the middle ages, often in some places, more wealthy than the King himself. Like a local lord, peasants and serfs, had to work some of the year, for free, on their lands. They didnt pay any taxes and they also received tithes from peasants and serfs, that is one tenth of everything they made. You can imagine this made them extremely rich. Also in every important stage of life, there was the church, when you were born, when you died, when you got married, when you gave birth and after, it was always there. And if you shirked your duties to them or didn't pay your tithes, you could be spend time in the stocks or flogging and you may not get your place in heaven in the end. Im sure sometimes they resented this but at the same time, these were extremely devout people and probably believed by doing these things for the church, they were doing it for god too and their place in the after life.

The Church here shows some typical features of parish churches in the middle ages. For instance an embankment is often found to surround an old church, which would have had Lychgate entrance, none survive in Ireland, as with many religious artifices here could be a result of the destruction brought on by the reformation, so this based on British examples. The graves themselves have been found in excavations not to align to east-west, but rather are more often aligned to the element that they are closest to, e.g. aligned to the paths or the church itself. Also a common feature of medieval church graveyards would have been the yew tree, as it was was in prehistory and still to this day, its probably because the yew trees needles sterilize the ground around them, so prohibiting other plants to grow. Also notice the house within the graveyard, this is the priests house, which would have been a common feature within many medieval churches areas.

The Parish church here is the typical of a high medieval church with both chancel and nave. The nave was the part where the parishioners would sit, or more often stand, while the chancel is where the alter was and was the holiest of holy in a church. The nave was the responsibility of the community itself to take care of with their time and money, while the chancel was the responsibility of the clergy. The church also has a double bellcote, the feature with the bells, which is often found in medieval churches in Ireland, this specific one is based on the one in Dalkeys medieval church, in Co. Dublin.

The door is based on one I visited recently in Kilsheelan in Co. Tipperary, which is probably a Romanesque doorway from an earlier church moved to Kilsheelan when the Normans built the church there. The windows are based on ones found in Wells, Co. Carlow, which are high medieval windows, note the sandstone, which is Dundry stone. Dundry stone is often found in churches in the east of Ireland, its an imported stone from Dundry in south west England and is one of the signs of an early or high medieval church. Also note the roof is covered in clay tiles, there has been some found in Dublin during excavations very similar to the ones shown here.

Im nearly finished a cutaway of the interior and shall post it in the next few days or week, we can continue the exploration of medieval parish churches there so stay tuned!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

People of the Easter Rising Illustration

There were three major forces that fought in the Easter Rising on the Irish side; the Irish Citizen Army, the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan. I had only had time for two illustrations of the groups in the 1916 Easter Rising, the latter two. Two of these forces were quite closely related, the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan, kind of male and female sides of the same coin. While the Irish Citizen army were a socialist armed force, originally created to protect workers from police after the Dublin Lockout of 1913. 

Irish Volunteers

After the Ulster Volunteer Force was created in the north to protect the Ulster Protestants from Home Rule (which they believed Home Rule was Rome Rule), the rest of Ireland took a leaf from their book and created the Irish Volunteers. In the case of the Volunteers though they were created to defend Home Rule from possible British aggression rather than oppose. They were started in 1913, originally just training with sticks, they eventually became armed when they smuggled guns into the country in 1914 from Germany, shortly before the breakout of World War I. They were a huge organisation, with close to 200,000 members at their peak. When WWI started, the irish Home Rule party in Westminster supported Britain in the War in return for a promise of Home Rule when the war ended, so most of the 200K Volunteers went to fight for Britain because of it.

But a section of it decided to stay home and not fight for Britain. It was part of that element that made up the bulk of the forces on the  Irish side in 1916, probably only around 1,000 or so members, though there was only about 1,400 in total on the rebel side. They were involved in alot of the key fighting, the most bloody of the battles in Mount Street Bridge, where a handful of Volunteers (17 I think) held off thousands of British soldiers for a day in a tiny area. It was this battle that was to have half of the total of British dead in the Rising, as the British command used the same idiotic tactics as they did in the trenches, sending wave after wave of soldier at the enemy, in highly exposed positions as the rebels fired down on them from the protection of the houses.

Cumann na mBan

Setup in 1914, they were very much the female side of the Irish Volunteers, and played a key part in the Easter Rising.  For many women, they saw the rising as an opportunity to win equal rights in a new country, away from the oppression of women in the British Empire. During the rising the Cumann na mBan mostly didnt take part in any of the direct fighting, instead played a supporting role like running messages, tending the wounded etc.

It was in the Irish Citizen Army, that women actually fought in the Rising, mostly under Countess Markievicz in St Stephens green, with Connolly (leader of the Irish Citizen Army) believing alot more in the equality of women than many others. Here women as well as men took up positions in the park, showing the lack of military know how of the leaders of the Rising, as the park was dreadfully exposed and allowed the British to take over buildings around the park and fire directly down on their exposed positions, kind of the opposite of Mount Street Bridge battle. Eventually they had to retreat to the College of Surgeons nearby and stuck it out there for a few days.  It was Countess Markievicz who was to take over Cumann na mBan after the Rising and revitalise it a new in the following years.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Battle that awoke a Nation

Easter Monday, Dublin GPO 1916

"All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born."

The well known above quote by WB Yeats about the Easter Rising of 1916  hits the nail on the head. On Easter Monday, 100 years ago, everything was about to change when Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the 1916 rising, stepped out before the GPO in Dublin and read aloud the proclamation of the Irish Republic:

"IRISHMAN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom."

It was to be one of the seminal moments in Irish history and one that marked the beginning of the war of independence in Ireland. In other words, something worth commemorating with an Easter Rising 1916 Illustration!

To give a very brief account of the Rising (I mean super brief!), it mostly occurred in Dublin city where a group of idealistic Irish men and women took over key parts of Dublin city. Their aim, to inspire the rest of the country to rise and from the rising to create an ideal country for all, one where both men and women were equal as well as all those of every religion.  Unfortunately for them, they were more idealists than military men, some being poets, teachers etc. After 6 days of intense fighting on the streets of Dublin, there was no hope of victory as the British had shipped in thousands of reinforcements from Britain to quell the rebellion, I believe something in the region of 16,000 soldiers, which massively outnumbered the small band of Irish Rebels, something around 1,500.  Also only parts of the rest of the country ever rose (as another part of the rebellions leadership, specifically Eoin MacNeill, disagreed with the rebellion happening then and countermanded the order to rise, so many did not come out) and so they were eventually defeated.

Its ironic but it was the British heavy handed reaction to the rising that cemented into an inspiration it was to become. With General Lowe, the general in charge of British forces giving the order to take no prisoners, which encouraged some angry English soldiers to shoot civilians and surrendered combatants. And the general shipped in to deal with the defeated rebels, Maxwell, blundered and executed the leaders, turning the leaders into the inspiration they had aimed for, those martyrs who died for their ideal Ireland. In fairness to the British army though, these were men more used and trained to fight in WWI France than an urban rebellion, which required more delicate handling.

In summary though, these events turned the rising into a shinning symbol of national herocism for many, a sacrifice to awake a nation.  Which it helped to achieve, as soon after public opinion sharply turned away from home rule through peaceful means to that of complete independence through the use of force, and so the rising was the first real steps of the Irish war of Independence.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

From Laois to Caher Castle

Early medieval Aghaboe Abbey, with later additions

St. Ruadáns church, Lorrha, from early medieval to modern

Lorrha Priory, late medieval

17th Century Portumna castle

Caher castle: My Abode for the night! Had the top two floors to ourselves! 

Inside Caher castle

Inside Caher castle

Athenry castle

Much of Athenrys Medieval wall is still there

The mindblowing Clonfert Cathedral

On Saturday last, I took the long route and stopped in a few places between where I live in Waterford to Caher castle in Galway. Stopping in Aghaboe in Laois, then Lorrha, North Tipperary, Portumna, Galway before staying the night in Caher castle for my birthday.  The next day we went to see the amazing Clonfert cathedral arch and see Athenry

Monday, 14 March 2016

Exploring Southern Kilkenny

St. Mullins early medieval monastic site 
Graiguenamagh with the famous Duiske abbey beyond

Kilfane church

Cantwell fada

Gowran Collegiate Church

Tullaherin early medieval ecclesiastical site
Spent a full day exploring southern Kilkenny and a bit of Carlow for a day last week, looking for reference for future illustrations. Doing this sort of thing, is one of the nice parts of the job, especially on a nice day!

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Sunrises and Sunsets

Just because this time of year is the best for sunrises and sunsets, here are some I have had the pleasure of witnessing over the last few months

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A Morning by the lake- the Mesolithic life

A bit more serious than the last Mesolithic image, a Mesolithic lake scene

Monday, 22 February 2016

The Storyteller

Just messing about with the Mesolithic really, having fun!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Mesolithic/Hunter-Gather Dwelling Concepts

Over the last few weeks I did about 250 Mesolithic dwelling concepts, here is a selection of my favourites, from the weird to the impractical back to the practical. The images were inspired either by looking at other hunter-gatherer societies or at what may have been possible or practical concerns they may have had or the materials available to them in this side of the world or a combination of all those. 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Slievenamon Sceitse

The Cairn ontop of Slievenamon

What is probably a fake standing stone

Myself and other intrepid sketchers who walked Slievenamon in the snow

The sun occasionally popped out to say hey

Kilcash castle

Kilcash church romanesque early medieval door

High medieval door at Kilsheelan 
Myself and a few other intrepid sketchers climbed Slievenamon last Sunday. It was snowing ontop, talk about an amazing experience, I love walking on snowy mountains, its like being in another world!

After the mountain, we visited the nearby Kilcash castle and church and finished up in Kilsheelan

Friday, 12 February 2016

Inside a Tower House Illustration

Over the last while I have been working on finishing the interior of my tower house image. This is going to be quite a long post so Im going to have to do this in parts, look to each image to see explainations about the internal features of a tower house in detail.
For those of ye who dont know much about tower houses, they are a type of castle found in Ireland, more than a thousand examples of tower houses survive in Ireland to this day, some estimate that up to 7,000 were originally here, if this is true, this would have made Ireland the most heavily castellated parts of Europe.  There is evidence in some areas that you could see the next tower house from each tower house, almost a stone throw from each other, I have seen this myself in parts of east and north Cork. This is said to have been a form of power reinforcement, as there was a constant reminder of the tower houses everywhere. It is for this reason I added some tower houses off in the distance in the illustrations. 

Most of the interior is based off Kilcrea castle in Cork, there are some changes, for instance the addition of a fireplace in the 2nd floor, also the machicolation parapet and box machicolation (ill explain these later) at battlement level are additions. The reason I added these is that these features were typical of tower houses as a whole, so made this image more representative. But besides these the structure is nearly exactly the same as Kilcrea tower house. Ill deal with each floor and feature separately, there is alot to go through, so bear with me.

Ground floor- here is a cellar, as Stanihurst "house and castle" account of Mallow castle, 1584 "lower rooms whereof ar sellors vaulted over". Here various food and drink would have been kept, perhaps not just for the castle itself but for the wider community, acting as a safe house for everyones goods in case of raids.  The floor surface here is very basic and is just beaten earth.

1st floor- I have made into a sleeping quarters,. There is mention in the historical recorded accounts of tower houses that they were used for sleeping and that there were beds without curtains, and you could sometimes fit three people into them. So here i have shown some rudimentary beds, not just for guests, but also for the guards and servants.  The 2nd & 1st floors are also covered with reeds, this would have often been what medieval floors were covered with according to medieval accounts, which then on occasion  would have been swept out and replaced. This room also doubles up as a guardsroom, as this floor was probably the last line of defence before the attackers get into the rest of the castle, so id imagine weapons would have been kept here for ease of access

Murder hole room & Lobby- you will notice small rooms off both ground and 1st floors. In the ground floor this was the lobby, where for defense purposes, once you were passed the main front door, you were greeted by two other strongdoors, one to the rest of the tower house, another to the ground floor. Above this was the murder hole room, essentially a room with a hole in it, the reason for the dramatic name is that while u were trapped in the lobby between the two strong doors, you would be fired apon from above by muskets (apparently unlike what movies would have us believe, hot oil was rarely used). But in the day to day, these were probably used as a kind of door eye hole, since there was no such thing in the main door, so before you got access to the rest of the house, someone would inspect you from above, before you were allowed in. In Kilcrea there was also a second one of these murder holes above the stairs just after the lobby, probably another line of defence if you were to break down the lobby doors.

Stairs- in a tower house usually started as a mural stairs to the left of the lobby entrance, these were then carried on by spiral staircases from the first floor up to the 4th floor, which then had another set of straight stairs leading to a small spiral stairs to the wallwalk area. This was probably defensive in nature, so it was harder for the attackers to take the spiral stairs and wall walk. This last set of stairs was usually hidden within one of the window embrasures at the top floor, this was a common feature in southern Ireland. In Kilcrea opposite this door was the door to the top garderobe chamber, more on this in another image.

2nd Floor- shows a kitchen with some sleeping quarters off in the mural chambers around the main room, these were L shaped rooms and could be accessed via the window embrasures of the main room, you can see one person leaning out of one such a door, having a word, while another person is sleeping inside another L shaped room. Kilcrea's main room  was probably more sleeping quaters, but in some other tower houses which had fireplaces at this level I have visited there was a guesses in some reports in that these were the kitchen, most kitchens would  probably have been external though

3rd Floor- Here I created as the lords room, caught between two floors with fireplaces, this would have been quite a warm room. It shows a typical late medieval bed, chests used for storage and a Savonarola chair, or X chair, in front of the bed, these were quite common throughout europe at the time, made in Italy. The third floor has its floor boards shown rather than covered, with the ocassional fur. Also note the paintings on the wall, there is mention in some written sources that the Irish decorated their walls with branches, and I found a piece of metalwork from late medieval Ireland with this very design (those many reference books come in handy sometimes!), the Clogán Óir Bronze Bell shrine of St. Senan, which was early medieval with later alterations in the late middle ages, one side of this had a pair of dragons with floreated tails and above, branch and leaf ornament along the top, so I used that here, while the knotwork is based off of other metalwork at the time.

4th floor- This was the dinning room, in the earlier periods there was always a large external hall to the tower house, made of non stone material, so doesnt survive (I actually didnt know this before I made the originaly illustration, hence why no hall, only so much one can do, too late now!) and there probably still was in the later period, but as time moved on, as in Britain and some parts of Europe at the same time, more and more the hall activities were taking place within the tower house. Probably smaller guest parties or lordly activities and personal meals were being taken within the tower house. Some tower houses always had an internal hall though like Bunratty and Barryscourt but these were the exception. Then the larger entertainments, with big crowds would have taken place in the external hall.  This dinning room floor in Kilcrea had lovely large windows, not all of them surviving, some with double lights with ogee heads, as shown, and some were missing, so I added a transomed triple ogee headed light as shown in the window on the left. These windows must have created quite a bright room. Rooms of this stature were probably decorated with ornate wood pannelling like shown, no such pannelling survives in Ireland, so these are inspired by ones in Britain. Generally tables at the time were long with benches and only really the lord would have had a seperate chair. People ate with their hands, there was no forks yet and everyone had a personal knife in which to cut their food with. The food shown is a pig roasted in its skin,, as described by Luke Gernon- "pig cooked in its skin like bacon, roasted by the joints on a skyn and served on the table". Also mentioned was herring, bread, leeks and salt/other food, a variety of meat, no sauce, a communal drinking mug, as well as tobacco on the table. The floor is of flagstones, showing the importance of this room, this floor is based off a ballynahow castle's floor in Tipperary. Note also the harper standing by as well, as Luke Gernons account says- "a harper plays in the middle of the super playing a tune and singeth Irish rymes of auncient making. if he a good rymer, he will make one song to the present occasion". The seating arrangement is based of Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh's biography of Red Hugh O'Donnell with the "Banquet hall arranged according to their dignity, O Domhnaill face to face with O Néill, the men in their due order also". Also Ludolf von Munchenhausen account, in 1591 "at mealtime the nobleman and his wife sat at the top end of the table or high end, with servants arranged around them according to rank." He also notes that  "At the end of the meal, water was distributed for washing feet" (Sounds biblical!)

Roof- the 4th floor in Kilcrea had very thin walls, in comares to the rest of the tower house, most likely to give it more space and air. The roof itself wasnt gabled but hipped, resting on cornices as shown above the wood pannelling. The roof itself is based off the only surviving tower house roof in Ireland, Dunsoghly Castle outside Dublin, sadly just a building in someones farm at the moment. The roof was often covered with tiles but many were probably thatched too. On the wall walk level, in the front, you can see there was holes at the bottom of the parapets (the stepped thingys), in Kilcrea some of the wall walk flagstones had chutes carved into them to leave off the rain. On the other side (the shadow side) shows wall walk machicolation, which were extended floors with holes in the ground, these are based of Blarney castles' with its pointed corbels. Shown here one of the guards looking down the gap in the floor at the scene below, which was probably its use most of the time, to see what was going on below, obviously it could also be used to fire down below when needed . Chimneys were also on the wallwalk level and were to become display features in their own right, rising to great heights to carry smoke away but also show everyone around how well the castle was heated - (in later periods castellated houses had lots of chimneys as an extra form of bling)

Usually tower houses had 2 garderobes, as did Kilcrea, one for public and another for private, in the case of Kilcrea both were probably public, but the upper one accessed from the dinning hall had 3 holes in it, so probably had wooden seats with three holes for 3 peope to use at the same time. This also gives further evidence that the 4th floor was a dinning hall of some sort, meant for the use of several people. This upper Garderobe chamber also had a window with a slop stone, which were small drainage basins underneath windows, which were essentially urinals. Often found on stairs, as there is mention in some English Historical accounts of laws forbidding people there from peeing on the stairs, which was obviously oft the case in the middle ages, so its probably no acident that the slop stone in Kilcrea was found on a stairs.

The garderobe on the 2nd floor, is one of the 3 L shaped chambers off the main room, which I made into a kitchen. Even though the account I used as reference on Tower houses in Cork, made no mention of it as a garderobe, after visiting the site the third time, I spotted it, and I almost sure that this is another garderobe, just a single use one, as there was a hole in the ground and I believe this had a tunnel leading off into the main garderobe chute. Each of these garderobes had wall recesses, these were probably for the toilet paper, though at the time they didnt use toilet paper. It used to believed they used moss, grass or leaves, but now people believe that moss would not have been in adequate numbers to provide daily use pf the toilet and leaves werent in season all year. So its probable that they had some kind of cloth that they re-used, mostly likely each person had their own and would wash it out. Maybe in a castle like this though, they had single use ones made from old clothes, which people would wash and bring back for further use. Nice eh?

Garderobes were normally at the ends of passages in both Anglo-Norman castles and tower houses, the reason for this is to give more distance between the rest of the house and the stench of the toilets. When not in use they would have been covered with clothes, as I did in the bottom garderobe here (tho I had to keep it fairly see thro in order for ye to see the toilet hole), this would have been used to keep the flies out. In Norman castles the chute from the garderobe was external and sometimes quite high up, you can imagine that on the castle wall, which would have been painted with white shiny harling, that you would have these long horrid streaks of excretion, which could be seen from miles, not pleasant! In the late middle ages though these chutes were in the thickness of the walls, which carried the excretion from above into a exit below, alot more discrete and modest! Garderobes were normally quite high up, this is because the long chutes would have meant less draughty toilets but also with the force of gravity, the excretion would pushed down to the bottom.

Note also here in this image the cutaway of the box machicolation at wall walk level. The box machicolation was usually just above the dor, allowing the defenders to shoot down at the attackers at the door, but also, like the internal murder box, in normal use, this would have allowed guards to check who was knocking, before letting them in. As you can see it was just a box with a chute in the middle to allow things to be dropped or to shoot from. Also note the sheela-na-gig on the shadow side of the wall, near the chute, this is based off the castle in Ballynacarriga, these were vulgar statues of a woman holding open her genitalia, they may have been some kind of reference to birthing. There is many many theories about these, too much for me to go into here, but worth a search online if you are interested

The scene shown here is the Luke Gernon account of what when you arrive at a tower house- "the lady of the house meets you with her trayne" when you arrive "you shall be presented with all the drinkes in the house, first the ordinary beere, then aquavite (thats whiskey by the way!), then sacke, then olde-ale". Some of the clothing of the arrivals, specially the one still on the horse is based off some scottish Gaelic clothing, also note the types of sadles are based off illustrations of Irish sadles at the time, which lacked stirrups. The horses would have been kept in probably a stable or billeted with the locals as mentioned in Luke Gernons account. You were presented with these same drinks as you leave, they knew how to party!

The front door shows the main strong door, which would have been surruounded by nice limestone dressing. Sometimes these were done series of dots and also also hammer and chisel dressing on the walls arround it, as shown here. This front door often had a yett infront, which was a reinforced iron external door, which acted as a defensive messure against attackers. Also note how white the castle is, this is because the castles at the time were painted with crushed pebbels and limestone, which when hit by the sun, would have gleemed white, as mentioned from contemporary castles at the time. You can imagine it would have made an impressive mark from afar!

Note also the many kinds of windows, some were cross shaped which were used for crossbows, others had a loop at the bottom, these were used for muskets, while the long narrow ones were used by archers, some had all three, as shown by the bottom cross window in the shadow side of the castle. As you can see the top floor had the largiest and most ornate of the windows, this was to allow the maximimum amount of light in. One of the windows has a transom, which was later than just double lights. Also there is hood moulding along the tops of these windows to run off rainwater. In Kilcrea the large window embrasure at top floor in the shadow side of the image, was re-purposed as a fireplace, and a chimney placed above, obviously originally the top floor was heated by a central fire but changed with the fashions to a fireplace instead. They kept the original ornate window though, so as to keep that impressive exterbak look

If you want to read more about the environs of the tower house and its bawn, I originally made this image months ago and here is the accompanying writeup: