Heritage Field School

Blackwater Castle as an historic building with a rich heritage is happy to open the Castle to history and heritage enthusiasts and will be running further courses in 2014.  Here are details of our  Heritage Field School scheduled for October 2013.

Heritage Field School

“Medieval Ireland” & “Ireland: Queen Elizabeth I to the Great Famine” 

Tuesday & Wednesday 15 & 16 October 2013

Blackwater Castle is delighted to announce details of our inaugural Heritage Field School which will take place on 15 and 16 October 2013 in the splendid surroundings of the ancient inland promontory fort of Dún Cruadha where the Cambro-Norman Roche family erected Roche Castle in the early 13th century.  Lectures will be delivered by leading academics, medieval historian and genealogist Dr. Paul MacCotter and archaeologist Eamonn Cotter, both of whom are widely published and acknowledged experts in their fields.

Heritage Field School Blackwater Castle
Dr. Paul MacCotter

The course will offer a “Medieval Ireland theme on day one of the school, with morning presentations exploring the medieval history and archaeology of Ireland, and afternoon field trips to various exemplary sites of interest in the immediate vicinity.  Day two will cover aspects of the theme “Ireland: Queen Elizabeth I to the Great Famine” again following the presentation and field trip format.

History and Archaelogy

Heritage Field School Eamonn Cotter
Eamonn Cotter

The emphasis of the course will be on bringing history and archaeology to life in an Autumn School setting in a genuine medieval Castle where attendees are actively encouraged to participate in presentations and workshops.  This participation will continue in more convivial surroundings during the evening banquet in the Dining Hall and Nautical Bar of Blackwater Castle when the themes explored during the day can be discussed in more detail with the lecturers and Castle owners.   The course will offer a stimulating and informative learning opportunity but the social interaction and dialogue between the course leaders and participants will be an important element in the process. Course attendees will be entertained, enlightened, and invigorated by the experience.

Medieval Entertainment

The course culminates in a medieval style banquet in the Castle Dining Hall where we will have some fun with medieval themes and hold an inauguration ceremony involving early medieval pagan rituals, a hazel rod, and eulogies extolling the virtues of the new chief (to be appointed on the night).  Attendees are invited to dress in medieval attire to add some further authenticity to the proceedings and general merriment.

Accomodation Options

Limited accommodation is available within the Castle and Courtyard so early booking is advised. There are further accommodation options available in the village of Castletownroche and the nearby towns of Mallow and Fermoy.   Day participants are welcome.


Course attendance fees are €100 per day or €185 for the two day course which includes transport, teas, coffees, lunches and a 3 course banquet on both evenings.  (Students and Senior Citizens can avail of concession rates of €95 per day or €175 for both days).

For those who just wish to attend lectures and field trips while making their own lunch and dinner arrangements the rate is €50 per day. Hot lunches and sandwiches will be available at special group rates at The Spinning Wheel pub in the village of Castletownroche.

Further information

Full details of this stimulating programme are set out below and all queries and bookings can be directed to Sheila on 087 971 0854 or to info@blackwatercastle.com.

Programme of Events

Heritage Field School

“Medieval Ireland” & “Ireland: Queen Elizabeth I to the Great Famine” 

Tuesday October 15 2013

8.30 - 9.30 Registration
9.30 - 10.20‘Ireland before the Normans - Part 1 History’ Medieval Gaelic Ireland: Kingdoms, churches, and Vikings
Dr. Paul MacCotter
10.20 - 11.00‘Ireland before the Normans – Part 2 Archaeology’
Settlement, economy and society
Eamonn Cotter
11.00 - 11.30 Tea & Coffee
11.30 - 12.20‘Anglo-Norman County Cork – Part 1 History’
Knights, Crusaders, Clans and the Plague: Norman conquest, Gaelic resurgence
Dr. Paul MacCotter
12.20 - 1.00'Anglo-Norman County Cork – Part 2 Archaeology’ .
Towns, castles and churches.
Eamonn Cotter
1.00 - 2.15Lunch
2.15 - 6.00Field Trip, sites to include the pre-Norman church at Brigown, Bridgetown Augustinian priory, Glanworth castle and abbey.
Dr. Paul MacCotter & Eamonn Cotter
6.00 - 8.00Aperitifs in The Nautical Bar
8.00 - 10.00 3 course Banquet in Castle Dining Hall
10.00 - Coffee & digestifs in the Nautical Bar


Wednesday October 16 2013 

9.30 - 10.20‘From Elizabeth Tudor to the curse of Cromwell’
A policy of genocide?
Dr. Paul MacCotter
10.20 - 11.00‘From Tower House to Big House’
Post-Medieval Ireland
Eamonn Cotter
11.00 - 11.30 Tea & coffee
11.30 - 12.20‘The Tithe Wars and the Famine’
Agrarian unrest and a government indifferent to starvation
Dr. Paul MacCotter
12.20 - 1.00‘Early Modern Ireland’ (Eamonn Cotter)
Agriculture, industry and society in 18th and 19th century Ireland
Eamonn Cotter
1.00 - 2.15Lunch
2.15 - 6.00Field Trip, sites to include the Knights Hospitaller preceptory at Mourneabbey, Mallow Castle, Castletownroche Mill, Blackwater Castle (Dún Cruadh and Roche Castle).Dr. Paul MacCotter, Eamonn Cotter,
Patrick Nordstrom
6.00 - 8.00 Aperitifs in The Nautical Bar
8.00 - 10.00 3 course Banquet in Castle Dining Hall with Medieval pageantry and tales - Medieval Dress optional
10.00 - Coffee & digestifs in the Nautical Bar with live music


Blackwater Castle Heritage Field School
The ancient site of Dún Cruadha and medieval stronghold of the Roche family, Viscounts of Fermoy and Lords of the Barony of Fermoy, now known as Blackwater Castle.


HEritage Field School dining room
Dining Hall at Blackwater Castle
Heritage Field School bar
The Nautical Bar at Blackwater Castle


Heritage Field School Mallow Castle
Mallow Castle – part of our field trip itinerary.


Heritage Field School
Archaeologist Eamonn Cotter working on a dig.


heritage field school castletownroche mill


Heritage Field School Glanworth Castle
Glanworth Castle


Heritage Field School keep
Keep of Blackwater Castle











Dr. Paul MacCotter

Dr. MacCotter has worked as an independent scholar, professional academic and genealogist in Ireland since the early 1990s. He obtained his Masters degree in history in University College Cork in 1994 and was awarded his Ph.D in 2006, in UCC, for a thesis researched under Prof. Donnchadha Ó Corráin.  Since then Dr. MacCotter has worked as a professional historian in the departments of History and Archaeology in UCC, and won a prestigious Government of Ireland post-doctoral research fellowship in 2010 for a research project into the lands of the medieval Irish Church. In addition to offering this research service he has lectured on medieval history and genealogy at university level. He is a research associate with the Irish Ancestry Research Centre of the University of Limerick, and a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APGEN). He has published extensively in the fields of medieval and early modern history, Irish surname history, general and specialised Irish genealogy, place-name studies, and ecclesiology and a full list of his published works can be found here.

 Eamonn Cotter

Eamonn Cotter is a self-employed Archaeologist/Heritage Consultant. He attended University College Cork as a mature student, where he studied History and Archaeology. He graduated in 1994 with a Master’s degree being one of the few students awarded a Masters degree jointly by both Departments.  Since graduating Mr. Cotter has worked continuously as a professional archaeologist, mainly on a free-lance contract basis in Ireland but has also worked further afield in Germany, Russia and Egypt and has published several academic papers in archaeological journals and books.  Mr. Cotter has lectured extensively both to academic audiences and to local field clubs and historical societies and has led numerous guided tours to sites of historical/archaeological interest.  Further details on the archaelogical projects he has worked on and a list of his published works can be viewed here.