Tara Shields

Having completed my undergraduate degree in History at QUB in 2016, and my MPhil in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic Studies at the University of Cambridge in 2017, I took a four year break before embarking on my current PhD journey! I was always passionate about history at school, being lucky enough to study it alongside Latin, and it really was all I ever wanted to study at university. Here at Queen’s my interest in medieval history – particularly Irish medieval history – really took off. Prior to my current research, I had been interested primarily in the early medieval period, with a focus on the early Irish saints and Hiberno-Latin hagiography. Now I find myself studying a much later period, but one equally as interesting! My research involves a re-assessment of the late medieval (and early modern) source material regarding the pilgrimage to St Patrick’s Purgatory at Lough Derg in Donegal, in order to establish a more full and nuanced understanding of the site’s function and significance in late medieval Irish society. By examining a corpus of Irish Bardic poetry which deals with the Purgatory, and by tracing the poets and patrons of these poems, I hope to shed light on contemporary Irish attitudes to the site. Similarly, the Registers of the Archbishops of Armagh and the Irish annals can be uses to inform our understanding of the day-to-day administration and personnel involved. I am also looking at the accounts left by a number of continental pilgrims who visited Lough Derg, to see how they can be utilised to further illuminate the function of the pilgrimage in late medieval Ireland.