Overview Audience, Features and Method

This website is intended for students, researchers and the general public alike. It focuses on the castle compound at Kilcolman, including contemporary and historical views of the castle and its environs.

A Site Map for the website outlines its contents.

Spenser’s life and writings are explored in relation to broader themes pertaining to the Munster settlement. These are, primarily, 1) Writing (with a focus on Spenser’s creative work), 2) Settlement (with a focus on Kilcolman Castle), 3) Conflict (with a focus on the Desmond Rebellion and the destruction of Kilcolman) and 4) Trade and Travel (with a focus on roads and rivers, including those described by Spenser). At its present stage of development, the website focuses predominantly on Settlement, with the other three subject areas related to it.

The centerpiece of the website is a three-dimensional computerized recreation of the castle complex.  It is speculative but based on extant ruins at Kilcolman and on archaeological evidence from recent excavations there. Some of the castle recreation follows period reconstructions of similar castle interiors (particularly at Barryscourt, County Cork). Our recreation features a Virtual Reality tour, a slide show of the current castle ruins, a gallery of historic images, a gallery of reconstruction images, labeled cross-sections and selected fly-through tours of the tower house and adjacent buildings, as they may have looked while Spenser was in residence there. The website also features contemporary and modern maps (including archaeological) and descriptions pertaining to Spenser’s occupation of Kilcolman.

The website includes many descriptions of objects inside the castle complex (Object Descriptions), as well as discussion of larger features, such as an Elizabethan knotted garden within the “bawn“ (or perimeter wall) enclosure. These descriptions connect objects and features to related subjects in Spenser’s poetry and prose. The purpose here is not to give an encyclopedic treatment of domestic objects in Spenser’s poetry, nor of those in a conventional Irish tower house, but rather to suggest ways that knowledge of Spenser’s material world might help inform our understanding of his creative work, and vice-versa.

Likewise, this website does not fully discuss or summarize Spenser’s interest in and use of native Irish myths, objects, landscape features, etc. Rather, it discusses some of them as they relate to his occupation at Kilcolman in particular.

Included also are various resources, including sample teaching assignments for use in literature courses, as well as scholarly bibliographies and weblinks.

Thomas Herron
1/9/2014 (revised 12/1/2021)